All people with alcohol-related problems spend a period of denying they have a problem to begin with which can be years or even decades.
You are generally the last person to know you have a problem or you drink alone at home and pretend no one else knows – but they do because you look, smell, sound and even perform poorly.
Alcohol use causes liver, heart, kidney and brain damage to name but a few of its adverse effects.
It advances aging by years because it creates massive oxidative stress in your blood and tissues so your body doesn’t get enough oxygen.
The term ‘functioning alcoholic’ is a delusion because if you were functional, you would not have an alcohol problem. You would not have to hide your drinking or make excuses to yourself and others.
In an interview with the rock star David Bowie he was asked if he took drugs anymore to which he replied “No”. Then he was asked “Not even one single drink?”. He explained that after decades of use he was now clean and sober and had good relationships with family and friends and he could not risk that by ever taking those substances again. “I’m an alcoholic” he said.
Of course, like all people with abuse issues he needed professional help to get him to that place.
Admitting you have alcohol issues is the biggest step and then reaching out for help is the smartest move.
You also cannot cheat recovery. It’s not something you can do a little of or be part-time recovered because that is still addiction. You are still deluding yourself that you do not have a problem and the problems that come with being an active alcoholic will follow you around like a bad smell.
The film star Judy Garland did not get the help she needed for her addictions, lost her children, career and eventually her life. One of the most successful movies starts of the 20th century, she ended up heavily indebted to the IRS.
Women are less likely to get help for alcoholism because of the social stigma attached to being a woman who drinks heavily.
Men drinking heavily can be seen as macho, hanging out with the guys or a rite of passage, whereas a woman being drunk can be seen as her being of low moral character.
There is no place where alcohol problems cannot reach or do not occur, from Betty Ford the wife of a US President to to R.D Laing, one of the most famous psychiatrists who revolutionised mental healthcare as we know it today.
Help is available and possible for everyone, no matter who, what or where you are. You do however have to truly want help and be prepared to get honest with yourself.
You need to listen to the professionals you chose to help you and be prepared to follow a program that takes you towards sobriety and then do the work in your life to maintain that sobriety.
Therapy is not about what the therapist does to you but what you learn to do for yourself.
As a recovery therapist, I am here to help and guide you, but not to do the work for you, because only you can do that since it’s your body, mind and life.
Recovering from a drink problem will change your life and give you back power over your destiny. Life typically becomes rewarding and more worth living.
Real recovery from alcohol requires you to change who you are, not just what you do because who you were was not working.
For an alcoholic, life begins again at sobriety.
Dr Tracie O’Keefe DCH, BSc, ND is a specialist in addiction and alcohol recovery who consults with thousands of patients in her clinic in Sydney, Australia and via the internet for patients all over the world. She uses the 6 step Drugs and Alcohol Hypnosis recovery program she devised over decades of research that also teaches to therapists.
She is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist. Counsellor, PACFA registered Mental Health Professional and Naturopath.
You can get help by booking an appointment at the Australian Health & Education Centre.