Thursday, May 28, 2009

The alcoholic as abuser

I am reading "Alaska" by James Michener written in 1988 and what has shocked me is how big of destructive role alcohol has played in Alaska's history and is no doubt still affecting its native people, especially, just as it does our native-American population in the southwest.
Unscrupulous American ship captains and traders introduced barrels of rum to the natives with a disastrous effect. I just read about two villages in particular that depended on the sea for food, but when the men should have been going out to sea to bring in the sea animal food supply needed for winter, two villages, men and women, too, stayed drunk until they were wiped out with hunger, and starved to death. When people went back to these villages they found them all dead.
Missionaries and some ship captains who were more scrupulous attempted to run these sea captains out of the territory. Of course when the natives were tempted with barrels of rum they would give up their valuable fur collection to them, with nobody benefiting but the trader. Alcohol was a problem when the Russians controlled Alaska, but after they sold it to the Americans, their ship traders came north and wrecked even more havoc on the natives than the Russians had done. I about quit reading this novel when I got to this part, I was so disheartened.
I saw a documentary on doctors not long ago and this one doctor who worked in emergency all the time said that the biggest problem there is in medicine, the one that causes the most damage to the most people is alcohol. I believe it.
Doc pushed me into making another DVD yesterday which ended up being a rant on alcoholic abuse. I was surprised at how much anger I still retain over a childhood filled with worry and strain because of my dad's drinking, and the cousins, children of his brothers, had to suffer the same upsets.
Every once in a while I tackle the problem of alcohol because it takes such a huge toll, is always with us, always doing more damage, taking more lives, crippling others. It is a subject that haunts me, you might say.
I try to interact with alcoholics because I am familiar with the problem and what it does to people. Doc was perfectly willing to play the self destructive drunk in this home made movie about the toll of alcohol on my life and on his. I said I wish I could put this in all the theaters. I am sure many people whose lives have been devastated by alcoholic abusers would like to put their stories out there. Countless women have been killed by mates who were abusing alcohol. Countless automobile accident victims have been literally crippled for life by alcoholics. To say nothing of all thoses who have been killed outright.
I used to feel growing up that people did not tackle it enough, but if they didn't they were in danger of being one of the 'innocent' victims of drunk strangers who careened into their lives with the impact of a bullet or a bomb.
Children born into the homes of alcoholics cannot escape, so I think the least adults can do is tackle the horrors of living with alcohol once in a while in an honest attempt to do something about the problem, rather than just ignore it.
If you drive on the highways there is no place to hide that you will not encounter it, that you will not risk being forever impacted by it. A drunk man goes down a freeway road the wrong way and causes a giant crash. That's a possibility we are up against on our highways constantly.
My dad never hesitated to drive blind drunk down a highway, and at one point in his life he hit a car head on on the wrong side of the road. Only by the grace of god did those people in that car escape with their lives. Both cars were totaled.
So I am sorry to give you this bad medicine today, the subject of alcohol and the toll it takes on people's lives. But if we grapple with it together, sharing ideas, we just might come up with something that will affect somebody.
Doc asked for this rant so I gave it to him. He is the best judge of what might help him. If you have spent years of 'social drinking' what is it going to take to affect you? Just remember you as an adult without the problem might get tired of talking about drunks, but a child cannot get 'tired' of a father who drinks. That's the hell of it. You are sick to death of it, and he is still going to come home drunk and upset the household. I used to pray for him to go to sleep, but I knew from experience he was going to have to rant and try to continue the 'party' with my protesting mother. She just as well not have been so impatient, because here was her chance to tell him what she thought, if she did not lose her temper too badly, which she often did and then the fights would start. To her mind, it did no good whatsoever to 'talk' to a drunk because he was drunk.
Well, he was still trying to function as a human being, and when he sobered up she sure couldn't talk to him. He would be short tempered and defensive and would be rushing off to catch up the work he had neglected while on his binge. So I talk to Doc while he is drinking, because he is always drinking, but I try to do it before noon, even though everyone is always expressing impatience at my still trying to affect this drunk.
I say it is a privilege not to have to interact with a drunk. My kids have got very little patience when it comes to interacting with Doc. They feel they will be indulging him by even exchanging a few words with him. I say bah! Try having a father as a drunk. I wanted my kids to be spared that as much as possible, but now they are a little too determined never to rub shoulders at all with these problem alcoholics of the world.
What better thing have I got to do, stay in my apartment and watch TV? No, I have to do what I can to affect the drunks of the world, too. I know Doc will not sober up with no intervention. To me this is called intervention. I find that my kids don't know what to do with ME, so they are not prone to spend a lot of time interacting with me either. And I am not a drunk. You see, sometimes if you try to save yourself from all these unpleasant experiences perhaps you will lose the ability or not develop it to interact with anybody, drunk or sober.
My dad was a hard working man when sober who accomplished a prodiguous amount of work, so when he was drunk, I found out he could still work hard analyzing and arguing and so on. Later on, I felt we daughters were keeping him sober only by interacting with him. Some of these big arguments we had were unpleasant, but they were a lot better than coping with him drunk. My mother was not nearly as hard a worker when it came to analyzing problems as he was. He could have taught her what keeping on the job could do had she been able to think of him as still a man inside the slcoholic who could teach her a thing or two, even if drunk! It's a complicated thing trying to intervene. That's what I am talking about.

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