Death From Alcohol Abuse – Not a Pretty Way to Die
I have watched people I love struggle with alcohol abuse. The help offered seemed so useless. Go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and get a grip seemed to be the only advice. I attended meetings and as a registered marriage and family therapist did more than I ever thought possible to help. So many doctors and health professionals think AA is the single treatment option. It is definitely not the only way. It is also not a very effective way to treat alcohol abuse. AA's success rate is approximately 3 percent. (Brown, Treatment Doesn't Work, 1991). The premise of Alcoholics Anonymous involves blaming the victim and relinquishing power. It also has a spiritual component that many people dislike. It is repetitive, the meetings can become addictive and guilt inducing. Melanie Solomon has written AA - Not the Only Way; Your One Stop Resource Guide to 12-Step Alternatives with many options that are available listed and explained. Her clear writing style and explanation of the different approaches is a great assistance in knowing which option might best suit any given situation. It is also a comprehensive directory of licensed professionals and treatment programs throughout the US and internationally that offer solutions beyond just the traditional AA 12-step approach. I wish this book had been available when I was struggling to help. Apparently 4 percent of the people who attend AA meetings never return after their first time. After all the effort to get one's self or loved one to attend, that is a shocking figure. How very sad! Melanie proclaims she is in no way affiliated with any of the treatment programs, philosophies, methods, etc. and she makes no claim to their success. She couldn't possibly. There are so many. She does however offer self-help options and gives contact information for the resources she lists. She happily accepts new resources to add to her list. If 95 percent of people never return to AA after the first year and most people are unaware of other resources, enough of the problems are not getting solved. The word needs to spread far and wide so people know that there are many options to help deal with addictions. Brian injury due to Wernicke's Syndrome/Korsakoff's Syndrome is a brain disorder resulting in the loss of short term memory and is associated with heavy drinking over a long time period. Because other brain functioning can remain intact this loss of ability to make reasonable decisions because facts cannot be stored can result in inappropriate treatment decisions. I believe many street people are living in appalling conditions because they sound reasonable in short conversations but in fact are making up stories to cover what they cannot recall. Their ability to take care of themselves is poor but caregivers and doctors are fooled by their ability to cover their problems with confabulations. A confabulation is a fantasy that has replaced reality and may be based partly on fact or be a complete creation of the imagination. The loss of self respect, hope and belief in a positive future are part of the problem. AA tries to convince them they are hopeless, can never fully recover and will always be an alcoholic. I know this makes the guilt and desire to escape more intense for many. Help can be more effective when the individual feels empowered by the ability to make their own choices and knowing there are choices is the first step. Accepting that the person is suffering and that they really do believe their lies because they cannot remember their truth, is also a compassionate part of helping. Confronting and humiliating isn't the answer. Protecting, engaging and offering options is much more likely to assist in a way that prevents the inevitability of self destruction.