Alcoholism: a family scourge

By Klaus Döring

“Who was woe? Who has sorrow? Who has contentions? Who has complaints? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who linger long on the wine, those who go in search of mixed wines? Do not look at the wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it swirls around smoothly; at the last it bites like a serpent, and stings like a viper. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart will utter perverse words. Yes, you will be like one who lies down in the midst of the sea, or like one, who lies on top of the mast, saying: ‘They have struck me, but I wasn’t hurt; they have beaten me, but I didn’t feel it. When I shall awake, that I may seek another drink!'” (Proverbs 23:29-35).
When I recopied this part from my Bible, I got the idea to write about this topic. The writer of these proverbs expressed very well the effect of alcohol.

Why is alcoholism such a scourge to society? When compared to many other common diseases such as heart disease, alcoholism has a much more devastating social effect — not just on that person, but also their family, who painfully watch for years, helplessly, as their loved one slides into decline. Yes, many diseases are terrible and affect others; smoking can cause secondhand smoke diseases to family members. But alcoholism is a sad disease, and it’s those bad memories that really haunt families of alcoholics — memories of being afraid as we weave across wintry roads as dad drives home tipsy; memories of mom crying as dad refuses to hand over the car keys; memories of watching his belly get bigger and his memory weakening as his liver starts to fail.
Alcohol is, as we all know, a depressant. It slows down the function of all the body’s parts. Vital functions can be slowed down to the point of death. Under its influence people choke to death at family picnics, drown at the beach, fall asleep while driving a car, hurt and even kill other people.

The devil’s alcohol creates a feeling of freedom without worries and euphoria. Our feelings are really free flowing, everyday worries are replaced with a carefree spirit. Wow, I really feel on top of the world today.

I joined the circle of many other fellows around, more or less regular social drinking, and/or habitual drinking with meals (beer or wine!). When I stayed in France, I couldn’t believe that for many Frenchmen a breakfast consists of bread (baguette), cheese, coffee – and red wine! Anyway, social drinking also means occasional drinks to relieve stress or boredom.
Once we reach the addictive stage we are already in danger. Gulping drinks and secret drinking daily to relieve stress makes one lose control, and being unable to stop drinking creates drinking habits, Danger is with us, if we lose control over when, where and how much we drink. The memory blackouts don’t let us remember any more, where we had been or how we got home. We lose our self-respect, and the performance of our work is seriously affected. Loss of interest in everything (except in drinking) means loss of jobs, conflicts with the law, mental deterioration, and even death. The sad consequences should let us tremble with fear.

A few people who decide to stop drinking find it easy. Having made the decision, they simply never drink again. And honestly, every time I enjoy a drink in really acceptable measurements, I am trying to ask myself, if I could stop drinking right now. And I am pretty sure, the answer is YES. That’s how I quit smoking almost 35 years ago.

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