Alcohol breeds around us, regardless of whether you drink or not. It has become a part of what we see, understand, accept, and relate to. From a shoulder to cry on to a medium to celebrate, alcohol promises to provide and care for you, to the best of its abilities. It’s not alarming that so many people turn into alcoholics, because when the going gets tough, the tough get going; but the tough can only go so far, and that’s when alcohol steps forth.
Sometimes reality becomes far worse than nightmares because you cannot wake up from it. The victim of such realities become desperate for an escape, any kind of an escape…even for a few hours. Some turn to God, others to therapy, a few turn to drugs and the rest turn to alcohol. What do all of these have in common? They have a solution – a solution to all your worries and strife. They bring to you relief from your life, your reality, and just for those few hours – just that much period – you are away from it. You are away from your daily stress, from the pile of problems, the burden of all the bills you can’t pay and the life you can no longer afford. You are away and into a world where everything is alright; there is just numbness and liberation.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease that includes uncontrolled drinking and preoccupation with alcohol. Sounds like trouble, doesn’t it? We see tons of stories on the internet and on television all the time, of direct and second-hand victims of alcoholism – direct being the alcoholic, the latter being the other people suffering along. You see them and wonder why would anybody do such a thing to themselves and their loved ones? We shame them, blame them, and banish them from our lives never wanting to see them again for the horrendous habit they’ve developed at the cost of several lives.
But maybe we should take a second and ask ourselves (or them) – why do they do so? Obviously, they know the health hazards related to alcohol. They are aware of the physical and emotional damage that comes along with it.
Nobody can understand alcoholism unless they’ve been a victim of the addiction themselves. It is IMPOSSIBLE to stop after just one drink; yes, even one. Addiction makes the brain find the smallest reasons to justify the abuse. “I can quit whenever I want”- that’s the lie they believe and live with. It is extremely obscure and there are various psychological and physical elements faced by the alcoholic that most people don’t understand. For example:
Without the drink, it feels like the brain has stopped working, like your heart is going to stop and you can’t breathe and it just feels like you might be dying. The only way you will feel alright is if you take a few sips of wine. Once you’re addicted, your brain gets wired differently. You can’t have just a few drinks with your friends. You have to drink until you black out and when you wake up with severe anxiety and depression, it can only be countered with a bottle of vodka. It is a pain and relief cycle – the anxiety and depression being the pain; the bottle of alcohol being the reliever.
The addiction makes you hurt people you love, neglect your health and carry all the shame and guilt from all the decisions you regret. You lose your friends and family because you don’t think straight. You lose everybody and everybody loses you. It’s a vicious cycle, and everybody gets swallowed into the giant blizzard of stress and sorrow which alcoholism creates. Before you know it, everybody hates you and think you deserve your suffering; thus more pain followed by your drinking.
So, you wait. You wait for life to get better, something nicer to come along, someone pleasant to meet, somewhere prettier to live; and all of that happens! A better life gets handed over to you, and yet, it isn’t enough; you feel unsatisfied, incomplete and discontent. You could have everything dropped into your hands, and you would still feel unfulfilled. There is always that thirst, that strong mania to get a drink. You try to run away from the demons inside you, and alcohol paves your way away from those demons. The longer you black out for, or are drunk, the longer you can stall facing the demons. But the biggest demon, which you do realise, is the same poison that shows you the light at the end of the tunnel. The reason why a non-alcoholic can’t understand these “outcasts”, is that they’re lucky enough to never have to face these demons or struggle for them to stay away. Nobody really sees that you’re so desperate for an escape from them – your thoughts, problems, conscience and your reality.
Biologically speaking, the brain releases natural ‘reinforcers’ that raise the circulation of dopamine levels and create a feeling of satisfaction. Therefore, consumption of alcohol gives you that pleasurable feeling, a feeling of being rewarded. So you drink more, thirst for more pleasure, and as your tolerance increases, so does your desperation.
Then comes a moment of sudden realisation, an urge to transform, a plea for a miracle. This is when the alcoholic hits rock bottom – the place where you realise how alcohol has cost you your entire life. And at this very moment, you, the victim, make the decision to put an end to it all.