Alcoholism Essay, Research Paper
CUNNING, BAFFLING, POWERFUL, PATIENT AND DEADLY
Today’s substance abuse, whether alcohol or drugs, continues to be a major social problem. Common
patterns occur in all forms of substance abuse. While some types of substance abuse problems are slightly
different in terms of causes and cures, experts agree that there are some do’s and don’ts which relate to
kicking the abuse habit. If you or a loved one have a substance abuse problem, this article can give you
sound advice on understanding what substance abuse is, and what to do about it.
In this article, we will refer to alcohol, although the word drug may be used synonymously in place of
What is Alcoholism? Alcoholism is a primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and
environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and
fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the
drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.
The rational for continued use of alcohol is centered on,
Common addiction distortions.
MENTAL FILTER:Magnify the negative details and eliminate the positive.E.g. – using
alcohol is so incredible. It is the most pleasurable thing I know. (filter out the negative effects)
Things are black and white, good or bad. You are perfect or a complete failure.E.g. – My life
would be void of pleasure with out alcohol.
OVERGENERAL- ZATIONTo come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of
evidence.E.g. – Alcohol has made for some great times with friends. I must have alcohol in order to
capitalize on the potential for fun.
MIND READINGYou think you are able to define how people are thinking about you.E.g. –
People will not like me if I give up alcohol. There is a side that come out that is very attractive.
CATASTROPHIC EXAGGERATIONYou expect disaster, and disaster means the end of the world.
E.g. – I won’t be able to tolerate the discomfort of sobriety
I AM CONTROLLEDYou feel externally controlled, you see yourself as helpless and a victim of fate.
E.g. – The alcohol makes my days tolerable, without it, I’ll not be able to function.
I MUST CONTROLYou feel that control is an all or nothing thing. Any ease on the reins will result
in a fall so disastrous you will never regain control.E.g. – Without alcohol I may get depressed, and I will
never be able to come out of it.
BLAMINGYou hold other people responsible for your pain.E.g. – If I give up my drinking, I
will be a bare wire, forced to face my abuse riddled past.
These are common patterns of substance addiction, keeping in mind that most alcoholics are unwilling to
admit they are real alcoholics and fit into one or more of these categories.
No person likes to think he is bodily and mentally different from other people. Therefore, it is not
surprising that their drinking careers have been characterized by countless vain attempts to prove they
could drink like other people. The idea that somehow, someday they will control and enjoy their drinking
is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many
pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.
The John Hopkins University Hospital in Baltimore uses the following questions as a test for alcoholism.
1Do you loose time from work due to drinking?
2Is drinking making your home life unhappy?
3Do you drink because you are shy with other people?
4Is drinking affecting you reputation?
5Have you ever felt remorse after drinking?
6Have you gotten into financial difficulties as a result of drinking?
7Do you turn to lower companions and an inferior environment when drinking?
8Does your drinking make you careless of your family’s welfare?
9Has your ambition decreased since drinking?
10Do you crave a drink at a definite time daily?
11Do you want a drink the next morning?
12Does drinking cause you to have difficulty in sleeping?
13Has your efficiency decreased since drinking?
14Is drinking jeopardizing your job or business?
15Do you drink to escape from worries or troubles?
16Do you drink alone?
17Have you ever had a complete loss of memory because of drinking?
18Has your physician ever treated you for drinking?
19Do you drink to build your self-confidence?
20Have you ever been to a hospital or institution on account of drinking?
If you have answered yes to any one of the questions, there is a definite warning you may be alcoholic. For
those of you that answered with more than one yes, despite all we can say, many of you who are real
alcoholics are not going to believe you are in that class. Past addictive behavior has shown that by every
form of self-deception and experimentation, you will try to prove yourselves exceptions to the rule,
therefore nonalcoholic. If any one who is showing inability to control his drinking can do the right-about-
face and drink like a gentleman, our hats are off to you. Heavens knows, you have probably tried hard
enough to drink like other people.
Those readers that are still with me, and may have acknowledged that alcohol is a major contributing factor
to problems that have developed in your lives, and have an inkling that you need to start changing the
direction your life has been going, we will give you some direction on how to cope with kicking the abuse
How do I Cope with Addiction
Lets assume that you have decided, at least for the time being, to stop your addictive behavior.
You are now faced with several problems:
1. How to maintain your motivation through what could be a gradual and at times difficult process of self-
2. How to cope with urges.
3. How to cope with problems using methods other than the addiction.
4. How to get the benefits of addiction, or as much of them as possible, without giving up the benefits of
5. How to interrupt unconscious habit patterns if they exist.
6. How to resolve problems brought on by previous addictive behavior. (relationship, legal, debts,
7. How to develop a new life style that is not centered on the addiction.
Here are some guidelines for each of these problems:
1. Motivation is fundamental, because if you maintain motivation you can persist past any temporary
obstacles. The simplest way to establish and maintain motivation is to have an accurate and complete
Benefits of Stopping list. The list of benefits is the primary reasons you are stopping. As in learning any
new skill, setbacks and rough spots should be expected. Do not allow setbacks to become distorted
evidence for incorrect beliefs.
2. For many individuals the crucial problem is coping with urges. In actuality urges can be uncomfortable
but they are not unbearable unless you blow them out of proportion, they do not force you to do anything,
they have not driven you crazy yet (and will not), each urge will go away if you simply wait long enough,
and the periods between urges which become increasingly longer if you stop. How long it will take for
urges to peak, and how rapidly they will subside, depends on many factors, including the specific addiction,
the length of the addiction, how successful the program of abstinence has been, and the strength of the
developing alternative lifestyle. Because all habits have unconscious components, of which the urge is one,
it will take time for these to die away. What is within your control, however, is how you respond to the
3. Another key issue for most recovering addicts is coping with problems previously coped with by the
addiction. A useful way to identify what these problems may be is to identify your high risk situations.
These are the situations, places, persons, moods, activities, or conflicts that you suspect will give you
difficulty in your plan to abstain. Most addicts are very able to specify what these are. Rather than using
this information in a pessimistic fashion, use this information as an opportunity to develop the additional
coping skills you need to get through the difficulty. It is also important to remember as you work on
developing these coping skills that even though they are not yet fully developed, you can use your urge
coping techniques nevertheless.
4. For many individuals, getting the benefits of an addiction even though stopping it, is synonymous with
learning the coping skills as described in #3 above. Experience has shown that the common addiction
distortions may be a significant factor in these perceived benefits of addiction, which, once no longer
experienced, are often perceived to have had only the appearance of what was desired, without much of the
actuality. The recovered user recognizes what the addict may not, that rituals, companionship, a rush of
good feeling, self-confidence, and other addiction benefits that are enjoyed for their own sake can also be
experience from a number of other sources and activities. Even if the intensity of these benefits is at first
less than what was experienced with the help of the addiction, with practice these benefits well exceed the
intensity of the addiction benefit, because they are the “real thing”, not a deceptive substitute with major
5. Interrupting unconscious habit patterns is typically not difficult, and can usually be accomplished by
putting a barrier between oneself and whatever one uses for the addiction. In the process of overcoming a
big enough barrier there is enough time to experience an urge, which can then be coped with using one of
the methods already described.
6. The problems that have arisen from the addiction may not go away immediately just because the
addiction is stopped. These problems take time to correct, family adjustment, financial matters, legal, a
cleaning up of the wreckage of the past. Some of these old problems may also be a legitimate focus of
attention in psychotherapy.
7. Ultimately the development of a lifestyle filled with positive addictions is the best safeguard against a
return to strong negative addictions. There is no better time than now to begin moving toward what is most
important. As you take small steps toward your ultimate goals – and there is rarely any other way than by
small steps – you will also be building positive addictions, and safeguarding against the return of negative
addictions. How could a negative addiction again take hold if I am actually pursuing what is most
important to me?
There are two main components to accomplishing any task: knowing what to do, and being motivated to do
it. Reviewing the benefits of stopping will remind you of your motivation. However being motivated is not
enough. No matter how motivated you are, you cannot perform a skill you have not learned. Practicing the
techniques suggested here, and by getting coaching, will eventually get you skilled enough to be able to
cope with urges and with any other problems relevant to your addiction.
You have reached the end of the article, and no doubt, have developed a better understanding of
addictions and the need for your own recovery. Substance abuse can have a happy ending. John
Barleycorn, CUNNING, BAFFLING, POWERFUL, PATIENT AND DEADLY can be defeated.
Coping with Addictions
Arthur T. Horvath, Ph.D. A.B.P.P.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc.
New Your City
Are you an Alcoholic?
John Hopkins University Hospital,
American Society of Addiction Medicine
4601 North Park Ave, Arcade Suite 101, Chevy Chase, M.D. 20815, Fax 301/656-3815
Addiction Research Foundation
33 Russell Street
Toronto, Ontario M5S 2S1, Tel: (416) 595-6981