Hi. My name’s Moyra and I am not now nor have I ever been an alcoholic.
Which may be why some people wonder, unsurprisingly perhaps, why I am so heavily involved with C3 Foundation Europe.
Part of the reason is that there have been too many times in my life when I have seen, at first hand, what Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) can do to people. And not just what it can do to the person doing the drinking, but what it can do to those around them.
I watched a documentary called Drugged – High On Alcohol recently, where the mother of a young man with AUD who died from his disorder said, ”Alcoholism is not an individual disease. It’s a family disease. It affects every single person in the family.”
And that is, I think, a key point and one that is often overlooked in the perfectly understandable focus on helping the person who is drinking. And I don’t just mean helping them regain control over their drinking, by whatever method (whether, for them, that means controlled drinking or total sobriety). I mean helping them manage their everyday lives, because serious AUD and binge drinking makes everyday practicalities like eating, dressing, or physical cleanliness difficult or impossible to handle. Helping them by arranging for their bills to be paid, because frankly, in the midst of a binge, they don’t give a damn about that. Helping them stay out of trouble in terms of their health or the law, because serious AUD and binge drinking kills the drinker’s judgement about what is safe, sane or legal.
When was the last time you had to hide your car keys or keep them on you at all times in case the drinker, in the midst of a binge, decided to take your car and go somewhere where they could get a drink? Or the last time you woke up and found that someone you care about has gone walkabout in the wee small hours, desperate to find somewhere that sells alcohol, and you have no idea where they are or if they’ve had an accident and are lying somewhere by the side of a road, badly injured or worse?
And then, because they’re not ready or willing to try and regain control over their drinking, helping them by making sure they get just enough alcohol to stop them starting to get withdrawal symptoms or to detox. Because withdrawal and detox, while it’s certainly a hellish experience for the drinker, is not exactly a fun experience for friends and family members, either.
If you’ve never seen someone go through it, trust me, it’s not nice. People tend to think that if you’ve had too much to drink, you throw up and pass out and when you wake up, you’re OK, albeit hungover.
With withdrawal and detox, the inevitable throwing up is the least of your worries. Because the body of a person with AUD is literally physically dependent on alcohol and the irony is that the very substance that is slowly killing them, destroying their brain and their internal organs, is also the substance they need for their body to get through another day without going into massive and, potentially, terminal shock and shutdown. When they are deprived of alcohol and start going into withdrawal – and that can happen within just a few hours of not having a drink – their body’s temperature regulation starts to fail, and they can start running a massive fever and/or suffer from cold sweats. And yes, there will be vomiting and, if the lining of the gut or the throat has been damaged by the alcohol, there may well be bright red blood in the vomit, too. Their nervous system, which has been compromised by the alcohol’s toxicity, goes into shock, which leads to shakes, tremors, uncontrollable twitches and whole body spasms.
The cramps that these symptoms cause are intensely painful and the person in withdrawal – the person you love or care about, remember – will moan, sob and whimper like a little child. They may also, again like a little child, temporarily lose the ability to control their bowel or bladder movements, so you have to clean that up.
In a worst case scenario, they will suffer seizures that may cause permanent brain damage, and/or paralyse their lungs and windpipe so they suffocate or choke on their own vomit. Assuming, of course, that their possibly already weakened heart doesn’t stop through the shock that alcohol deprivation causes to the addicted system and simply stop beating.
All of the above is why ”just stop drinking” is not an option. ”Just stopping drinking” could, quite literally, kill you. Traditional treatment centres use medications to alleviate and manage the above symptoms, but according to people I know who’ve been through it, it is still an absolutely horrendous experience and something they want to avoid at all costs.
But that’s just the physical side of it. The emotional and mental side can be even more appalling for those around the person with AUD (as if seeing someone you love go through all of the above wasn’t devastating enough). If their AUD was sufficiently advanced that they were suffering from hallucinations, that is likely to continue and even intensify – and some of the things they see or hear inside their heads are truly horrific and will scare the living daylights out of them and you.
And then there’s the fact that someone suffering from withdrawal has no conscience, and I mean NONE. They will literally beg you for a drink – just one little drink to ease the pain, please?! They will lie, deceive, attempt emotional blackmail and say or do absolutely anything, however unreasonable, unfair or hurtful, that will, in their minds, help them get a drink. Because their sole focus – absolutely the only thing in their minds at that point to the exclusion of anything or anyone else – is on getting another drink. It can turn very nasty, very fast. Trust me on this – I’ve seen it, first hand.
In the Drugged – High On Alcohol documentary that I mentioned at the start of this piece, one of the things that struck me was the anguish, pain and despair of the young man’s family and friends. And their feelings of helplessness and frustration at having to watch someone they loved slowly destroy themselves and being unable to stop it. At being able to do nothing more than moderate the symptoms of their loved one’s slow but inevitable demise by providing him with the very thing that was killing him.
Think about that for a while.
Think about going through all that emotional strain and then knowing, on top of that, that getting this person well again could involve putting them through the horrors of withdrawal and detox that I’ve described above. Talk about having to be cruel to be kind…
So if you’re wondering why I, as someone who is lucky enough not to suffer from AUD, am so involved in C3 Foundation Europe, it’s because there is an alternative.
Over the years, I’ve seen everything I described above. I know the toll it takes and the scars it leaves. Not just on the drinker, but on their friends and family. And having experienced that, how could I not help to raise awareness of The Sinclair Method – a method that can put a stop to all that? That can help stop people binge drinking. That can help them gradually wean themselves off alcohol without going through the nightmare of detox. And that can help put an end to the hell that an out of control drinker’s family go through every single day of their lives.
Think about what I’ve written, and you’ll know exactly why I’m doing anything and everything I can to spread the message that Options Save Lives. Not just the lives of the drinkers, but the lives and sanity of everyone around them.