As a person who has had M.S. since 1976, I do indeed believe all worthwhile things are possible.
I’ve been over 45 years in Alcoholics Anonymous without relapse and over 39 years in Al-Anon, the organization for the family of alcoholics.
In those five decades I have seen any number of wonderful success stories unfold…and I have also seen many terrible tragedies take place, brought on by misuse of alcohol. Those tragedies need not have happened.
For the last 18 years I’ve been working at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the substance abuse field as a volunteer counselor.
My overriding worry and effort has centered on the innocent family members who have been traumatized by their problem drinker.
When family members ask how they should deal with their situation, I emphasize that they must learn to think of themselves first of all. I sometimes ask them who do they think the drinking alcoholic is thinking of first of all.
The acoholic is an insecure, self-centered individual who is primarily concerned with the satisfaction of what he perceives to be his (or her) own wants and needs to the utter disregard of the wants and needs of anyone else.
The drinker does not think of his own drinking as a disease and of course does not think of the trauma inflicted on his wife and children.
I cannot tell the difference between a sociopath/psychopath and the drinking alcoholic.
The 1994 edition of the “Textbook of Psychiatry” of the Psychiatric Press says the central characteristic of the sociopathic or psychopathic personality is a long-standing pattern of socially irresponsible behavior showing disregard for the rights of others. This is coupled with deceitfulness and a lack of any remorse for the harm they cause others.
In AA I have seen genuine miracles such as the transformation of a helpless drunk lying face down in the gutter of a foreign city. I have seen him changed into a functioning, constributing member of society who is looked up to by others and no longer looked down upon. I was that drunk.
Equally, I have seen family members who came to Al-Anon with no hope for a better life. I have seen them blossom into individuals who are able to laugh and have fun!
I tell them that Al-Anon may not open the Gates of Heaven and let them in but Al-Anon
will certainly open the gates of Hell and let them out
I ask them to light a candle and no just curse the darkness.
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