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Alcohol Abuse and What It Looks Like

Updated on August 12, 2014
Happier times before the illness struck with full force
Happier times before the illness struck with full force | Source
Before the fall.
Before the fall. | Source
I didn't plan on being an alcoholic when I was twelve
I didn't plan on being an alcoholic when I was twelve | Source

Is there an alcoholic in your family?

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This is the second draft of this article. I was asked by the hubpages leadership to re-write it because they believed it too closely resembled other hubs already written. I spent a couple days in a snit over that review, mainly because there have literally been thousands of articles written on the subject and it is impossible to write about it without regurgitating something that has already been written.

Then I took a step back and read the comments that had already been written about the hub. Some 244 people had already read it before it was suspended and many of them took the time to write the most beautiful comments about their own experiences with alcoholism. They were incredibly personal comments, deeply appreciative and they touched my heart. That was when I decided that it was selfish of me to not rewrite it, that too many people had been affected by it in its original form and it was a disservice to them if I chose to walk away in a snit.

So I will give it another go. The title tells you that this hub is about the things you should and should not do when dealing with an active alcoholic, and I stand by them. However, I will not spend much time going over them but rather will devote the remainder of this hub discussing my personal experiences with the list.

THE DO’S AND DON’T’S

A simple list will suffice and then we will move on.

1. Admit that there is a problem

2. Seek as much information as possible about this disease

3. Never enable the alcoholic that you are dealing with

4. Never lose your temper with the alcoholic

5. Above all, take care of yourself

6. Live your life for your health and benefit

7. Seek intervention for the alcoholic

8. Establish consequences for the alcoholic behavior

9. If necessary, leave the alcoholic or force them to leave if they will not seek help

MY STORY

Some of my followers have been amazed that I am willing to open up and talk about such a personal subject and they have expressed surprise that I would take the chance considering the possible negative reactions. I will tell you now my own thoughts on that subject: nobody can hurt me as much as I have hurt myself over the years. If there are those out there who would condemn me for my illness and my actions because of it, then I welcome their comments and we will begin a discourse about it. I stand by my life story and I make no excuses concerning it.

I have been an alcoholic all my life; this is a disease you are born with and it just lies in wait until that time when the moment is right for it to strike. For me that moment did not come until I was twenty-six years old. The taste of that first dark German ale was like meeting someone you instantly know is going to be your best friend. Your new friend makes you feel good about yourself, gives you self-confidence you never knew existed, and gives you the freedom to express yourself in ways you never would have believed prior to meeting them. Alcohol was a wonderful friend for me the first few years and I loved those times when we would get together and share enlightenment and freedom. I had no way of knowing what was to come; since I am adopted there was no family history to warn me, no relatives who could serve notice by example. I just knew that I enjoyed being with my best friend and enjoyed his company immensely.

THE TURNING POINT WAS HARD TO DEFINE

Slowly my best friend and I began to bicker. He and I would begin an evening in a great mood but by evening’s end we were bickering, and I could see at times that he did not have my best interests in mind. He allowed me to go beyond accepted social behavior on many occasions; he urged me on to be louder and funnier and less concerned with the outcome of my behaviors. I would wake up the next morning feeling bad about my time with my best friend and that concerned me because I thought we had a wonderful relationship, one that could withstand the test of time.

I still did not realize that my buddy planned all along to turn on me; while I was living in some delusional Utopia, believing that all was well, he was doing push-ups in preparation for the day he would kick my ass….and kick my ass he did.

THE SLOW GLIDE DOWN THE STEEP, STEEP HILL

Have you ever gone sledding? I remember as a kid anxiously awaiting the first snowfall; we would rush out once the snow had built up and we would tackle the neighborhood hill, whooping and hollering as we navigated the freshly-covered slope. After a few times, though, the slope seemed pretty tame so we would head out in search of a steeper hill. Eventually we would find one that was sure to present a challenge and the thrill of a lifetime. I clearly recall starting out on the hill, thrilled beyond belief as I looked ahead down that hill, but then suddenly realizing that what appeared to be mildly challenging was in fact the mother of all hills and there was a real chance I was going to get hurt before I reached the bottom.

Welcome to my life in the 80’s! I was heading down that steep hill and I knew I was out of control but I had no idea how to stop or get help. I simply held on for dear life and hoped I would survive…and then I exhibited classic alcoholic behavior…I got up, grabbed my sled and went right back to the top to ride that monster again. They tell us in Alcoholics Anonymous that the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over again but to expect different results, and so it was with me and my best friend. He was leading me into some serious trouble and I knew he was bad for me but a bond had been formed, a bond so strong that I couldn’t….wouldn’t, break it. He was, in truth, kicking my ass and I kept calling him up the next day hoping that it would be different the next time, that he and I could somehow salvage our friendship.

NO SALVATION IN SIGHT

There would be no salvation; that steep hill chewed me up and spit me out; my best friend tossed me to the curb like so much useless garbage. My family pleaded with me to no avail. My employers pleaded with me to no avail. My friends pleaded with me to no avail. Marriage, job, possessions, all gone, and I found myself quite literally on the street wondering how it all could have gone so badly. I was morally bankrupt, physically depleted and without hope. Or so it seemed!

ONE SMALL GLIMMER

I was one of the lucky ones! How can I say that you ask? Simply because somewhere in that darkness there was a tiny ray of light, so dim that it could not be seen by anyone other than me. Somewhere in that darkness there was the desire to live and the willingness to do anything necessary to live.

It has been thirty years now since I began that journey. I have stumbled, risen, stumbled and risen again, always keeping my eye on that ray of light, but now that ray of light shines brightly and the darkness is gone.

I have no degree in psychology, no degree in alcohol abuse, no shingle above my door proclaiming to the world that I am an expert in this field. Others far more qualified than I have written numerous articles about this disease and how to deal with it. I am just a wanderer trying to traverse a road less-travelled. I can tell you this, though, and know that it is accurate: nobody can overcome alcoholism unless they want to, and until that day arrives life is for the living. The list above recognizes that truth and is meant to give you some insider information that might help you when a loved one is struggling with alcoholism. The bottom line is this: if they are not willing to get help then you need to live your life independent of them and if necessary separated from them. There is no reason for this disease to claim more victims than it already has.

I LOVE HAPPY ENDINGS, DON’T YOU?

Nobody can hurt me as much as I hurt myself. My loved ones recognize that fact; they have loved me unconditionally until I was able to love myself I have no regrets at this point in my life; to regret is to invite shame and there is no shame in being sick. I have the rest of my life to live free of shame and I plan on living it to the fullest, full-speed ahead and damn the torpedoes. Life is good today and will remain good as long as I am willing.

2013 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • Mark Pitts profile image

      Mark Pitts 5 years ago from United States

      I most respectfully disagree that nobody can get better until they want to. My monster wasn't alcohol, but an addiction is an addiction, and when I speak now I tell my guys that they want to not be alcoholics or addicts, even if they still want the feel good they get from their use they don't want to be a junkie. I use the term "junkie" for all of my guys regardless of their addiction, so one addict doesn't think they are better than another. But your story is inspiring, and I always tell people not to admire me or tell me to be proud I stopped, because I was an idiot for starting, and you don't tell someone they are so smart for dropping a hot coal, you're just glad they did. I have a couple of Hubs telling part of my story, and will have more. I'm glad for both of us. Yay You!

    • angela martinez67 profile image

      Angela Martinez 5 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Great battle won! Life is never all rosy and perfect till we all realize things and make up for lost grounds. I understand the feelings and struggles u had gone thru why u ended up being an "A", but nothing is impossible for those who believe it can be changed. Proud of u and all the others who have battled thru the same.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 5 years ago

      I read your first post and passed it onto some of my students who had parents suffering from alcoholism. Your story is a great testimony and one that will help many.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Mark, I respect your disagreement. The most important thing is that we are both survivor and thrivers in this new life. Best of luck to you and thank you so much for reading and commenting.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Angela, that was a lovely comment from someone who I am growing to appreciate greatly. Bless you and thank you so much for following me.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Teaches, thank you as always. If my story helps someone else then I say HOORAY! This truly is a happy ending and I am honored to have you following along.

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 5 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      It is an honor to know you Billy, your story will help others I have no doubt! I can't say I totally know what you went through, but your writing brings out the emotions very well. My stepfather, the man that took me for my first airplane ride and set the aviation bug that has directed my life was an alcoholic. He went through all the things you depicted but in his case, lost the war. He fell down a flight of stairs and broke his neck. He lived as a vegetable in the VA hospital six months before he died. God bless you for sharing this very personal part of yourself!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Curiad, your words mean a great deal to me and I thank you for them. I'm sorry for your loss...and your step father's loss. It is an ugly disease and if my words help anyone then my experience was all worth it.

    • lucybell21 profile image

      Bonny OBrien 5 years ago from Troy, N.Y.

      We never know what life will bring to us, or what will happen in our lives. We may have to go through many things for many reasons. We all deal in our own way. Addiction is a hard thing to deal with, and now in this day and age it is even harder, because there is so much pressure. I commend what you have done for yourself. Everyone has a vice, though they may not admit it. I have my own. I smoke, terrible habit, not that it is anything like what you had to go through.

    • profile image

      KatrineDalMonte 5 years ago

      Billy, I think your story surely must be an inspiration to many out there dealing with the same problem.

      Alcohol addiction is an escape from the reality, from problems in our life etc.

      It's a disease that destroys the life of not only the person suffering, but lives of the loved ones around.

      It's like a battle that can only be either won, or lost.

      Only the person who is fighting it must decide. If you are able to recognize that there is something in this life that is worth living for than that's already half the battle won.

      But often it doesn't come easily, and help from someone around us is needed.

      Someone to show us the way, the direction.

      In either case it can be a long process of trying to find yourself through self-searching and self-discovery.

      Well done to you, and good luck.

    • picklesandrufus profile image

      picklesandrufus 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Va

      I always enjoy your clarity on this topic. It is a personal truth that can help many people.Everyone wins when we understand addiction better. Vote up

    • BakingBread-101 profile image

      BakingBread-101 5 years ago from Nevada

      I thoroughly understand the snit you were in regarding your hub having to be rewritten. I am going through the same darn deal. It is truly a wonder how hubs can be published at all some times because all subjects have been written about at some point. I am currently awaiting republishing of mine. Out of curiousity--will the comments get republished that other Hubbers have already made?

      Love your honesty in your writing. I am a fan.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 5 years ago from Planet Earth

      I admire your strength in fighting your demons - and I admire anyone who tackles addictions. Thanks for sharing and for encouraging others through your words. Voted up and awesome.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      lucybell, I have no doubt that smoking is incredibly difficult to give up and you are right, we all have vices. Thank you for reading and the lovely comment.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Katrine, your words make me smile and as usual even your comments have a poetic style to them. Thank you for your kindness and following.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      pickles, you are appreciated so much. I finish my 30/30 Challenge today and then I will be able to read more of your hubs and we can talk about your writing abilities instead of mine.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Baking, I have no idea regarding your question; I asked similar questions and never got an answer, nor did I get clarification on what they wanted changed. I finally gave up and wrote a completely new hub. Thank you for following along on my journey.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      March, it is I who thank you; without people reading my words my message would be lost. I appreciate your following and look forward to reading some of your hubs.

    • vespawoolf profile image

      vespawoolf 5 years ago from Peru, South America

      Hurray for opening up about this issue! As the child of an alcoholic, I know how much damage it does to the family. I wish everyone with this disease could take up the fight, but it's a widespread and pervasive issue. Congratulations for a great hub!

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 5 years ago from Isle of Man

      You have written a great hub and on many levels this hub will find its way into the hearts of those who are ready to hear what you have to say. Your life is your message and you should feel proud of the work you are now doing which is ironically as a result of your destructive friendship. Thank you. I will share this hub on Twitter and Facebook as well.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      vespawoolf, I thank you! The decision to go public about this issue was a tough one but in the end I had to consider whether my words could help others...when I found the answer to be yes it was an easy decision.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Spirit, thank you for your kindness and for following me. If this hub helps someone then my experience will be well-worth it. I appreciate you greatly.

    • jenntyl99 profile image

      jenntyl99 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I am glad you continued to revise and republish! This is a very well written and personal account of the struggles people with addictions face, and yet it is written from a perspective of personifying your addiction. Great job! This really helps bring the reader in. You are also absolutely right, people must be willing to seek and accept help and that cna be difficult for many. Thanks for sharing your story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jenny, you are very welcome and thank you for reading and spending the time to give a meaningful, and touching, response.

    • smzclark profile image

      smzclark 5 years ago from cheshire

      I had to leave an alcoholic (my baby's biological father) behind. This article reassured me somewhat that I made the right move. I still wonder sometimes if I could have done more. Thank you! I am very much enjoying reading through your hubs. I can relate to a good number of them.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      smzclark...trust me, you couldn't do more. The work was his to do and his alone. In the end all you can do is love an alcoholic and help them if they want help. Thank you for reading and I appreciate you following along.

    • smzclark profile image

      smzclark 5 years ago from cheshire

      Thank you. And you're very welcome :-)

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      The best way to do this is just one day, just one day at a time. I am serious. If you think about it for the rest of your life it makes you crazy. But if you think about it, just for today, it works. It really works. Great hub. Really great. Thumbs up.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I have no concept of future; I just enjoy each day as the gift it truly is and go from there. Thank you for your wise words and generous praise. I appreciate your loyal following.

    • Rolly A Chabot profile image

      Rolly A Chabot 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      Hi Billy... we have much in common... been down that road and clear for 36 years now...

      Blessings

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      That is a remarkable achievement; I would ask how you did it but I already know the answer...one day at a time..thanks for dropping by and I appreciate your support.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      This is beautiful, Billy. I appreciate your candor!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you sir! Your comment means a great deal to me. The time was right for me to "come out of the closet" and the reaction has been heartwarming.

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

      My brother is a recovering alcoholic. It very nearly killed him. I think personal stories like this one can indeed help others who are alcoholic themselves or who are related to one not yet in recovery or in early recovery.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well, flora, that is my hope, that somehow my words will help others. I love to write but I am passionate when it comes to writing things that are meaningful and can affect others. Thank you for dropping by and taking the time to comment.

    • tammyswallow profile image

      Tammy 5 years ago from North Carolina

      Congratulations to you Billybuc. You are brave and gracious in your hubs and I pray you will be an inspiration to many. My own life was touched by alcoholism. Both of my parents have been alcoholics before I was born. I always wished they had the courage and desire to recover like you have but they never did. You are a very strong man and I am proud to be your friend.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tammy, you are sweet and the feeling is mutual. It has not been an easy road but I finally figured it all out. In the end it was all worth it. Thank you for your friendship and for mentoring me while I stumble along.

    • PDXKaraokeGuy profile image

      Justin W Price 5 years ago from Juneau, Alaska

      Billy... your story is inspiring. I'm glad you chose to come out of the closet

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      PDX, so am I my friend. It was dark in there for sure; thank you for dropping by. Your support is much appreciated.

    • raciniwa profile image

      raciniwa 5 years ago from Naga City, Cebu

      I've written about addiction in general but a personal story is quite touching, there's no better way to write but writing one's account and personal battle to it...and you are so brave coming out in the open...i have my demons too but some of it i refuse to air, i've confronted it silently, and with my silent partner too as living witness to it...

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Raciniwa, that is everybody's personal decision and as long as you are dealing with the demons it makes no difference how you do it...it was just time for me to go public so I could possibly help others. Thannk you for dropping by and following my journey.

    • Tams R profile image

      Tams R 5 years ago from Missouri

      You have stamped out the dragon of being an alcoholic. I understand addiction though mine was not alcohol. Mini-thins instead at a young age and I always blamed it on growing up with someone who was more in love with alcohol than me.

      It helps to see it is all part of the same thinking and while that person still makes that choice to be an alcoholic, I somehow feel closer to him to know he too is in some sort of hell that I cannot change.

      I usually steer clear of this subject when it comes from the point of the person who does it, apparently I have some growing to do, even at my age.

      Are you getting tired of my comments on your hubs yet?

      You have taught me much in a single day of reading. Thank you.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Tams, if these are helping you then it is I who is grateful. My life needs to be an example that there is hope and that's what I want part of my legacy to be. This is a horrible disease but it is not hopeless. Luckily I had some people stand by me until I could stand alone...thank you and you can comment as much as you like...I hope you and I have a very long internet friendship. Your life story has won my admiration.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thank you for sharing this -- it will help others struggling with this problem. I'm so glad you were able to see the light. Voting this Up and Beautiful.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Aurelio, thank you my friend. It's been a long journey but because of the lessons I have learned it has all been worth it.

    • ChristyWrites profile image

      Christy Birmingham 5 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank-you for sharing your personal story and triumphs with us. I vote up and will remember your story.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      You are very welcome Christy; I appreciate your words greatly.

    • Rusti Mccollum profile image

      Ruth McCollum 5 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

      I am very familiar with alcohol.More than I like to admit. I am so happy you rewrote it. It seems like the hub page lords that be are picking on me lately. Another hubber is my Sister in law, she couldn't understand it either. My story about trouble traing her human , was picked apart.Anyway I found this interesting so glad you wrote it.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Rusti; I still don't know what they found objectionable and I was pissed for awhile but eventually the need to write it and possibly help others was stronger than my need to be pissy. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi billybuc,

      I too fought the same battle, about 8 years ago. I already had health issues, and was getting depressed because I felt I was able to do less and less. My Mother was an alcoholic, my Father borderline, and my brother is a bipolar drug addict. I didn't like myself too much when I was drinking, and didn't want my son to remember me at my worst. That was my biggest motivation. But I was bored in my life, and when I began getting new interests, and making different friends, I realized life was fun again. I started taking good care of myself, I lost 60 lbs. and kept 50 off. I never missed the hangovers or the drinking. I did crave sugar for a while, but I always had a sweet tooth. My husband is having similar problems now, and I do what I can to help. But I agree that the person has to want to help themselves. I don't know why HP gave you a hard time. Sure, many people drink too much, but not so many overcome it. Thanks for sharing.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jean, thank you for sharing your story! And congratulations! There is a wonderful life once the drinking stops; I have never been happier. I hope your comment will help someone else to see the light.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

      I hope so too! When you learn you can overcome such a hard thing, it makes you feel on top of the world! Maybe other people can take strength from knowing others fought the same battles.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jean, I have seen some great miracles in recovery...and I am one of them. Stay strong and keep loving.

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 4 years ago from New Jersey

      Great advice Billy. I'll keep loving, and am glad your story has a happy ending too! It's so hard to try to help others who aren't ready yet. I think they need to feel like they need a reason.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Jean, that may be the hardest part of this disease....loved ones having to stand by and not help....but love is help and always remember that.

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