Heavy Drinking: Why is it Difficult for the Alcoholic to Ask For Help To Quit Drinking?
Posted Nov 20 2009 10:04pm
I was saddened this week to hear of the death of someone I knew who died from an alcohol related death. He was drinking to the point he developed cirrhosis. This person was aware of his drinking problem, but was not open to getting help. He left his wife and children behind when he died. I wondered to myself how many other people had died an alcohol related death on that same day all around the world. Alcohol abuse is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Think of all the thousands of people who are impacted by this terrible disease.
If you think you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol abuse, please click here to read my free guide outlining thecriteria used by doctors to assess the likelihood that alcoholism is present (note:this guide does not substitute for seeking professional help).
Addiction has many victims. The victims are not only the addicts themselves, but those who care about them. The non addicted family members feel the brunt of every bad decision the addict makes. Relatives, friends, and coworkers are affected too. Addiction and alcoholism does not spare people. Most people know someone who suffers from this disease.
As a psychiatrist specializing in addiction, I have noticed three personality traits of addicts and alcoholics that prevent the person from getting the help he/she needs:
Each alcoholic/addict insists on doing things his/her way which often translates to “cutting down on the number of drinks”, not attending AA, not taking the medication as prescribed, and not following through with different doctors to address important health issues. Many do not seek treatment because he/she insists that he/she knows what is best despite all the evidence to the contrary.
Often, at the end of a psychiatric evaluation, if I mention to my patient that he/she is drinking too much (or using marijuana or pain pills to “self medicate”), I hear the statement, “I have it under control”. I have learned, over the years, that many alcoholics/addicts need a “crisis” (a relationship ending, job loss, or health problem) to break through his/her denial. In the person’s mind that is abusing alcohol or drugs, it is much easier to put everything off- even facing the truth about being hooked on drugs or alcohol. Therefore, sobriety gets delayed.
Procrastination. Most addicts/alcoholics I treat tend to be procrastinators. Everything in his/her mind can be “put off” whether it is deadline at work, getting a sponsor at AA, making things right with his/her spouse, sending off job or college applications, changing his/her lifestyle etc. The list is endless.
Bottom line: If you suffer from addiction/alcoholism, you are may already be aware that you are your own worst enemy. If you work on being less stubborn, more aware, and more proactive, your recovery has a much greater chance of success.