25 May 2008

I am not alone

In one of today's Sunday newspaper magazines is an article about how alcohol has wrecked people's lives, taken from the viewpoint of a widowed wife, a daughter and several recovering alcoholics themselves. It helps me to read these articles and know that what I am going through is about typical for the "illness". Sometimes when I am in the middle of this nightmare, I feel as if I am the only one going through this, that Greg's behaviour or the illness itself is atypical. I sometimes get so angry with him that he does not seem to want to stop drinking and save his life. I cannot even understand simple things like him not wanting to wash or groom himself, or to even change his clothes for days and weeks on end. But in those articles, others have done the same, so it reassures me. I hope too that someone reading this blog will be equally reassured that their relative/friend is going through similar phases and that they are not alone. It also helps me to read that excessive drinking destroys relationships, as I have been feeling guilty that maybe I am wrong to throw in the towel and think about leaving him. It is not easy to know that the probable outcome will result in his early death, although I am sorry to say that sometimes I wish he would die quickly to put the family out of our misery. I hate myself for thinking that unspeakable thought, but, if I am honest, I often see it as the only way out of this mess.

One hears so much in the media about binge drinking. That conjures up in my mind teenagers or twenty-somethings who just go out on the town maybe once a week and get plastered. They meet at clubs, drink excessively, vomit and then go home. They can take it or leave it for the rest of the week. It is almost a social thing, like cavemen collectively clubbing a wild animal, then taking it home for supper. But how many of those binge drinkers will go on to be a true alcoholic?

A true alcoholic drinks alone, often without any close family or friends even knowing. They drink to excess because their body is dependent on the alcohol and will undergo physical changes if they try to abstain. Far from just drinking to relax in the evening, they start to drink as soon as they wake, to avoid the awful withdrawal symptoms such as the shakes or hallucinations. Empty bottles are hidden in overlooked nooks and crannies. They neglect their appearance and hygiene. They cannot be bothered with any of the day-to-day intrusions of life such as bills and relationships. Their sole concern is where the next bottle is coming from. Those are the tell-tale signs of an alcoholic. There have been a few articles recently about alcoholics and together with the six cases quoted in this article today, it got me wondering just how many more cases there are out there. It is a disease on a truly large scale which is costing and will cost the health system a lot of money, if more of the young binge-drinkers turn into the older alcoholic. How will our taxes cope with the rising costs of the NHS treatment and how will the local taxes cover the costs of detox and rehab, particularly when most alcoholics go on to re-offend and will need several detoxes and rehabs in their lifetime?

Curbing smoking and obesity is very much in the forefront of the nanny state's attempt to make us healthier, but what is being done to stop alcoholism? It not only affects the health of the alcoholic, but their families too - physically and mentally. How could we stop it? Would we want to stop it? Surely, there is nothing nicer than an occasional drink in the evening with a meal or on a hot summers' day with friends at a pub.... by the sea.....in the countryside? Surely we do not want to go down the route of prohibition American-style? The majority of us know when they have had enough and can stop. So how do you go about stopping those people who don't know when to stop?


aims said...

I think sitting down and making a list of the pros and cons that relate to your marriage might be very beneficial.

Do you feel the need to try and save this person? Do you think you really can? Do you think that destroying your daughter's life is worth it? Can you make it on your own? Do you have someone who will help you if you leave?

I have known many alcoholics. My uncle died from it and it was just plain ugly at the end. Fortunately he was a happy alcoholic - but his wife and son still wouldn't live with him.

My cousin is an alcoholic - and I have thrown in the towel with him. I had to - for me.

My nephew's wife is an alcoholic at the age of 30. They have three young children - 2 still in diapers. He has stayed - so far. I don't know if he will always though.

You are not alone! But - you really need to evaluate your life and your daughters.

Thinking of you.

Eurodog said...

It's difficult.
Talking about it helps a great deal I'm sure. Writing about it too.

lady thinker said...

Roserio - I am sorry - so very difficult for you.

this sounds as if it has been going on for a long while? Does your husband have a job? Is there any specific event which started his drink problem?
Have you tried to talk it over with your him - before his first drink of the day? is he aware of how he is when he's in the drink stages of shouting etc? Is he too far down the track to be aware of how bad he is if you were able to play back a recording of his shouting? Does he just shout or does he get physical as well?

so many questions - I am sorry but I feel that this is a problem you have been dealing with alone for a long time ...

Have you talked to your family doctor? This doesn't sound as if it's something you can handle alone without professional support - your family doctor should be able to pass you onto other agencies for help if you want/need it. Or the Samaritans are very good listeners and you don't have to be suicidal to talk confidentially with one of their counsellors.

Blogging does help to get out the fears and frustrations that we can't release to friends and family.

Stinking Billy said...

rosiero, congratulations, a baptism of fire for you already, but if you give all you have got, as you are doing, people will know that and respond. A brilliant appraisal of your husband's case and your own situation, bringing forth some intelligent and sympathetic responses from two of my best blogging friends, so I will throw in my own two-penn'orth for what it is worth.

I have been drinking between a third and a half-pint of whisky, nightly, with a can of lager on the side, for almost 30 years now, and getting away with it - so far.

I wouldn't thank you for a drink before 8-30pm and, yes, I am a binge drinker and usually in bed before 11. I'm not proud of myself and am currently (just this past week) cutting right down on my frequency of drinking - only having some on Saturday night but back on the wagon last night again.

I don't know that I won't weaken and revert to type but I will give it my best shot. I don't get any cravings for it but it does help me to sleep better. Without my nightly whisky I have an uncomfortable time in bed with an ache across the back and shoulders, but I am now asking myself whether I shouldn't be able to get some painkiller alternative from my G.P.?

I am grateful not to be in the same category as your husband, but I find it difficult to sympathise with him when he is being so damaging to the life of his wife and children. Ditch the bum!

rosiero said...

Aims - I am sorry you have many alcoholics in your circle. It can't be easy. I have asked myself the same questions as you raise and have mixed answers, but I think at the moment walking away wins over staying.

eurodog - you are so right. The opportunity to vent my feelings is therapy enough, otherwise I think I would go insane.

ladythinker - I hope to answer some of your questions as I write more over the coming weeks. He is not violent,thankfully, just verbally abusive, disruptive and angry. I have involved the family doctor and other organisations, but there is only so much they can do and not without the alcoholic's consent, which is not forthcoming!!

Billy -do be careful. That is how my husband started and the habit grew and grew. I think the quantity you are drinking is far more than the 2 or 3 units per day that is recommended for your health. After that there is bound to be some damage to internal organs. You are right to try to cut back while you still can, before the habit takes hold. I am certain too that there are drugs on the market that can help you with you pain and sleeplessness.

Stinking Billy said...

rosiero, you must have missed the bit where I confessed that I had been drinking that amount for 30 years now. But overall you are right, of course. That much doesn't do anybody any good.

rosiero said...

Sorry, Billy, I had forgotten that bit - it came from speed-reading the second time of reading it. ;-)

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

you write so well about a harrowing and invasive problem. i read recently that on account of the smoking ban 4 pubs a day are closing in the UK. I think that's tragic; i think it drives the problem of alcoholism further underground - perhaps even exacerbate it; i know smoking is hardly the elixir of health and youth but i think its effects are far less immediately harrowing for those who love others who indulge - too many drinks changes a person in a matter of hours, too many smokes and it only makes them cough. i think you're very brave and i'm thinking of you

Suetaylor said...

How to contact Roserio? I'm living
the same nightmare

Suetaylor said...

I'd like to contact Roserio

DarkTeckno said...

Disease my bottom. The usual 12 step crap. Read the orange papers. Your blog is full of brainwashed cult speak!