“I Can Quit Any Time”

Who’s Alcoholic?

The stereotyped picture of the drunken, skid-row bum is a myth. 95% of all alcoholics are employed.  45% of them hold management positions; 50% have college degrees.

Alcoholism may be defines as a disease, an addiction, or dependency, but the symptoms are the same:

  • an overwhelming desire to drink
  • ever-increasing tolerance for alcohol
  • personality changes caused by drinking
  • impaired judgment due to drinking
  • concealed drinking
  • emotional and/or physical isolation from friends and family
  • difficulty in daily functioning
  • physical problems
  • blackouts from drinking

The alcoholic drinks compulsively to the point of intoxication, over and over again, and continues to do so despite the concern of family and friends, physicians’ warning and that little voice inside that says “You’re killing yourself.”

How It Develops

Alcoholism is a chronic, progressive disease, just like Alzheimer’s or diabetes.  It begins with the discovery that drinking can produce a temporary mild euphoria, and progresses to looking forward to that feeling and then to seeking it out.  The need becomes an obsession, which becomes an addiction.

Social drinking leads to psychological addiction for the alcoholic, and at some point, the body’s metabolic processes are altered to include and depend upon alcohol.  This is where physical dependence – true addiction – begins.

Alcoholic Personality

Alcoholism may be caused by an inherited vulnerability to alcohol or may be passed from parent to child as a learned way of coping with discomfort and stress.

In either case, these traits characterize addiction personalities:

  • anxiety about personal relationships
  • emotional immaturity
  • excessive dependency
  • tendency to be smokers and/or heavy coffee drinkers
  • low tolerance for frustration feelings of loneliness & isolation
  • low self-confidence & self-esteem
  • impulsiveness
  • perfectionism
  • ambivalence towards authority
  • inability to express emotions
  • excessive guilt

Denial is the chief symptom of alcoholism.  “I can quit any time” is a typical statement.  This is not the same as lying – it is self-deception, a defense against unpleasant realities.  The alcoholic may be the only one who believes his denial, but his is often so vehement that friends and families remain silent.

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