The disease of alcoholism is a gradual deteriorative affliction that devastates entire families and will continue to do so unless the alcoholic member takes action to live a life of sobriety, physically and mentally. It affects the person who is addicted to alcohol, that person’s family and everyone who interacts with that person.
Consider the following:
• Alcohol dependence and abuse cost the US approximately $220 billion in 2005. For the sake of comparison, this was greater than the amount of money spent to combat cancer ($196 billion) and obesity ($133 billion).
• An estimated 43% of US adults have had someone related to them who is presently, or was, an alcoholic.
• 6.6 million Minors in the US live with an alcoholic mother or father.
• About 14 million US residents battle an alcohol addiction.
• Greater than 50% of grownups in the US have had knowledge of someone in their immediate family with an alcohol problem.
• Around a quarter of all children experience some form of alcoholism in their families before they turn 18
• 40% of alcoholism is passed down through the gene pool, while the other 60% stems from unknown circumstances.
• 500,000 US Children ages 9-12 are addicted to alcohol.
• Studies show that the offspring of alcoholics have a greater chance of becoming alcoholics themselves than those whose parents are clean.
In the book Alcoholics Anonymous Chapter 2, There Is A Solution, It says:
“But the ex-problem drinker who has found this solu¬tion, who is properly armed with facts about himself, can generally win the entire confidence of another al¬coholic in a few hours. Until such an understanding is reached, little or nothing can be accomplished.”
Furthermore it says,” helping others is the foundation of our recovery.” And in the 12 Steps of recovery it says “… we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics and practice these principles in all of our affairs.”
If our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety. Then I believe it is incumbent on me to carry the message of hope in writing as well as in meetings. From the depths of my heart there is an intuitiveness that inspires me to share what I have to come to believe as the result of the 12 Steps and our book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
The enormity of the problems alcoholics experience, both physically and mentally, and the quantity of human beings who have this disease has grown significantly over the last decade. As we understand more about it and learn the devastating long-term effect on the family as well, it is more urgent to get the message to as many as possible. Not only, that “There Is A Solution”, but that no one is better suited the help an alcoholic with recovery than another alcoholic. If we are to arrest this disease and prevent it from further debilitation of our families we must take action. We can stop the spread of alcoholism within our own families. It can end with us. What greater gift could we give our children?
The story of my life and my 45 years of alcohol and drug abuse, how I recovered and what my life is like now is intended to help others recover. It is an illustration that we can end this debilitating disease’s devastation of our families. We have a choice and an opportunity to ensure that our children are healthy and that they and their children can live happy, free and joyous lives.
The solution is multi-faceted and starts with carrying this message to the sick and suffering alcoholic no matter where he/she is, nothing has a more profound affect than one alcoholic talking to another about our problems with this disease. Family members, law enforcement persons, doctors, clergy and counselors can appeal to us and try to reason with us about the devastating consequences of our actions, but with little success. The experience, strength and hope of another alcoholic can start a path to recovery better than any other means.
My story is one of hope. It starts with how my defects of character developed within me, how I used alcohol and drugs to numb the pain, how my life was unmanageable and my powerlessness of addiction. The solution I found in the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous is a story that anyone who wants to change their life and become useful productive members of their community can follow and succeed.
The elimination of my drinking has only been a beginning; the relationship and partnership with my spouse, the participating in my children’s lives and my contributions to my community has changed my life.
It is my belief that the retelling of our experiences, what we have leaned from them and how we have changed our lives in recovery is key to helping others. What I am about to do is share “how I became what I used to be like, what I used to be like, what happened, and what I am like now”
As Allen Reid McGinnis said, “I can tell you things that I have come to believe with every fiber of my being, and you can dis¬agree with every syllable I utter, and yet both of us can be sober…both of us can be useful, productive mem¬bers, not only of Alcoholics Anonymous, but of society. So, if anything I say bothers you, just dismiss it. If any¬thing I say you disagree with, you’re entitled to disagree. “Nobody speaks officially for the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, not even the founders.”