Finally there is a shift in thinking around alcoholism. For far too long a diagnosis of alcohol dependency has been the ‘bench mark’ for professional’s diagnosing this terrible illness. What this has meant in reality is people don’t seek help until the situation is dire.
I have always felt that we need to do more to educate people about the nuances of alcoholic thinking and behavior. With better understanding more people can get help at earlier stages.
Joseph Nowinsky and Robert Doyle have written a book called ‘Almost Alcoholic’ which explores the notion that alcoholism is not easily defined and is in fact something better diagnosed on a spectrum rather than in the categorical ways it has been done up to now.
I have argued for a long time that alcoholism exists in the thinking and feelings of a potential alcoholic long before it shows up in their behavior. It is in my opinion, primarily a disease of the spirit that left untreated will always manifest itself in self-destructive ways. So when someone turns up for rehab having lost everything this is not a situation that occurred overnight. Alcoholism, or even just a problem with alcohol is something that has been building for some time. The earlier we are able to recognize and offer treatment then the better it is for everyone.
I knew something was wrong with me from a very early age, I never felt right and alcohol always eased those feelings of discomfort. It proved to be a very effective anesthetic to the pain I was feeling inside. I was nowhere near physical dependence but I was already thinking like an alcoholic. I wish I could have been given some insight into how I was feeling. It is a desperately lonely illness and I had no idea how to articulate what was going on inside of me. Hopefully this book and others like it will begin to bring more awareness and lead people out of the darkness.