It may be that these alcoholics view death as the ultimate escape from the pain and shame they desperately try to drown with each drink. Some have made the conscious decision to kill themselves -- slowly, deliberately, legally committing suicide -- one drink at a time, hour after hour, day after day.
Sadly, there is nothing that we can do or say that will make them change their minds and stay. I have already seen far too many of these types of alcoholics in my life. I hope and pray my friend David is not one of them.
Chemically DependentAs mentioned in the first article in this series, David is at the stage of being chemically dependent upon alcohol -- getting up in the morning, every morning, and popping open a beer. Even if he attempted to quit drinking on his own, at this point the withdrawal symptoms would overwhelm his resolve. He would probably require medically supervised detoxification in order to have a chance at abstinence.
I don't know exactly what pain caused David to compulsively seek mood-altering substances, but it began early in his life. By age 15 he was obsessively smoking pot, drinking, and "sniffing" inhalants. If you could get a buzz from it, he tried it. Before he turned 21, he had tried all the psychedelic drugs the 60's had to offer, bragging about hundreds of LSD trips.
By the 1980's he was heavily abusing cocaine, and then graduated to the harder stuff -- heroin -- in the '90's. And throughout his substance abuse journey, he always drank.
Money was never a factor for David. His dad operated a successful construction-related business and brought David into the company during his teens. While the rest of us were working 40 hours for a wage, David was making three or four times as much on commissions.
A Dream Come True?He never really knew what it was like to struggle to make ends meet. He always had the money to do whatever he wanted, including plenty of cash to finance his various forays into illegal drugs, imported beer, and fine liquors.
His idea was that when his father passed away he would sell the business and use the money to open a bar on the beach. It was his life-long dream. That is exactly what he did. Ironically, the fulfillment of his dream would be the beginning of his downfall.
Life as a bar owner became a full-time party. David was able to drink and drug all day, everyday. He no longer had time for his family, after all he was at work! His substance abuse began to spiral out of control. He was quickly in over his head and he knew it. In a desperate attempt to regain control over the insanity of his life, he sold the bar -- at a loss.
He had sold the business that was his father's lifetime work. He had squandered away his own lifetime dream. He sunk into deep depression. He refused to get a job, living off the cash from the sale of the bar. When that money ran out, he began to sell off his possessions to continue his daily drinking. It was during this period Julia, the mother of his only child, frustrated that he refused to act responsibly, decided to divorce him.
The Cheapest BeerToday, he has lost everything -- careers, families, dreams, and everything he owned. All is gone for the price of a six-pack. For the first time in his life, money is a problem. Month-to-month he browbeat his mother into giving him survival money. After two years, even that well has run dry. Now his goal is to try to move in with another enabler, his first wife Glenda.
He is a broken man. Yet he continues to drink. It's not the 12-year-old Scotch anymore, but the cheapest beer they sell. David is not in denial about having a drinking problem. He even admits he is an alcoholic. What he denies is that his behavior has any affect on anyone else.
"I'm not hurting anyone but myself!" he screams.
Next: A Family Disease
Part 1: A Family in Crisis
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