Talk in a Whisper or Scream Louder! – Addiction to the Big Bottle and the Little Bottle
By Lawrence Traynor
Jacksonville Beach, Florida
I never thought my personal addiction struggles may one day be of value in helping others suffering from addiction to the Big Bottle, alcohol and the Little Bottle, pills. I just loved escaping through drinking and as my drinking progressed, I felt like it had just started raining and I was the third monkey running to get aboard the Ark.
I am not a licensed medical doctor or member of the medical community, but I am not, as we say in Boston, “just another guy in the diner,” either when it comes to alcohol addiction. I am a recovering alcoholic with twenty-eight years (10,220 days) of continuous sobriety making me uniquely qualified to offer insight into this family tragedy.
Alcohol is a legal, controlled substance and today one of the most common addictions in America. Alcohol addiction, also known as alcoholism, is marked by an emotional and physical craving for alcohol and an inability to stop drinking — even when it causes extreme personal or social harm. Unfortunately, 47% of men and 41% of women do not receive the substance abuse treatment they need from the Big Bottle and or the Little Bottle.
Not everyone who drinks is an alcoholic, but anyone whose life is negatively impacted by alcohol on a consistent basis is usually considered to have a problem with alcohol. Even people who drink only during social activities or only drink beer or wine on the weekends are susceptible to an alcohol use disorder. Alcoholism is hereditary and oftentimes referred to as a family disease.
In the extreme, those with severe alcohol dependency may feel they simply cannot start their day without a quick, harmless swig or two of vodka, or finish their day without a glass or four of whiskey, gin or vodka straight or on the rocks.
Alcoholism has been described not only as a disease but as an “allergy’ as well. Can you imagine someone being allergic to nuts or certain seafood thinking that just this once it will be OK to eat them knowing for certain how violently ill, they will become upon consumption? This is the insidious, insane behavior of the afflicted mind of an alcoholic and addict.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease. It is imperative we remember our loved ones and their families, that are slowly losing their addiction battle with the Big Bottle and or the Little Bottle, are sick and suffering from a disease and not a simple lack of willpower. In an alcoholic’s mind, there is no such thing as one when it comes to a bottle of beer or a glass of wine.
The disease of addiction is described in Twelve Step literature as being “cunning and baffling’ for a reason. Why?
Alcoholism is the only disease that tells the person suffering that they really don’t have a problem with their alcohol consumption and if their friends and family members would just leave them alone to simply drink in peace then everything would be fine. This is the power of the denial so often associated with this disease.
What men and women must do when caught in the vortex of addiction and denial is to reach out and ask for help. Anyone reading this who is battling addiction knows that reaching out for help is what logically you should do, but don’t or can’t. Surrender does not come easy. An alcoholic and addict will resort to seeking help only when their addiction leads them to hit their “bottom”, allowing them to become ready and willing to finally give up being sick and tired of being sick and tired.
There are only two “bottoms” an alcoholic will experience. These are what are referred to as high bottoms and low bottoms. Examples of an alcohol addict’s low bottom oftentimes include DWI’s, divorce, bankruptcy, job loss, house arrest, and jail.
Fortunately, in my case, it was a high bottom. I remember it had snowed earlier in the day on January 22nd, 1992. It was a cold, wintry afternoon. I was living with my wife and children on the outskirts of Boston. It was Super Bowl Sunday and the refrigerator was stocked with beer, planned well in advance for watching the big game on television. The life-changing conversation between my wife and myself took place in our kitchen. I was unaware and not prepared for her ultimatum of either immediately stopping my drinking and getting help or losing my marriage and children. That was it. That was my bottom.
I proceeded to open the kitchen refrigerator door, took out the last bottle of beer I had and threw it as hard as I could into the woods of our backyard. The bottle made a violent, smashing sound as it hit and splattered off a nearby tree. I have not had a drop of alcohol since.
If a loved one, family member or maybe “just another guy in the diner” is struggling and losing their battle with alcohol (Big Bottle) or (Little Bottle) pills, remember it is not a question of their willpower or self-control. They are sick and have a disease. Pray for them of course, let them know you love them and care about them, but most importantly tell them they are not weak-willed, that they have a treatable disease and that there is help. In order to get them to realize they need help and surrender you must either talk in a whisper or scream louder!
Lawrence (Laurie) Traynor lives in Jacksonville Beach, Florida. He is a member of the recovery community and volunteers his time free of charge in helping addicts and alcoholics, their loved ones and their families locate drug and alcohol assistance resources. He can be reached at (904) 553-1600.