Slow Suicide: When Addicts Don’t Want To Recover

Slow Suicide: When Addicts Don’t Want To Recover For those who want to recover from alcoholism, there is no shortage of resources to help make it happen. Alcoholics Anonymous meetings take place every day of the week across the globe. Detox programs and inpatient rehab centers are found in every state. Alcoholism and its effects can be healed and mitigated, and these community and professional resources stand ready to bring hope and healing back into the lives of those who have been brutalized by alcohol addiction.

There is only one requirement for sobriety and healing from alcoholism: desire. Though the court may mandate treatment or A.A. meetings, though spouses may multiply ultimatums, though the doctor may dole out frightening prognoses, if the alcoholic does not desire to live sober, there is no chance of recovery.

This outlook sounds grim-especially for the alcoholic’s loved ones who so deeply desire the addict’s restoration. They beg, they plead, and they threaten, but it seems their cries fall on deaf ears. If the alcoholic is still at a point of having the capacity to care what others think of him or her, or of being able to have empathy for the pain he is causing, he may respond with a string of empty promises. He may say that he wants to quit or cut back, and he may promise to do so. He will raise the hopes of his family, but he will fail. Alcohol is a progressive, chronic disease. Though the alcoholic may say just what the people around him want to hear, if the desire is not there, sobriety won’t be either.

This forces alcoholics into a difficult spot. Some are painfully aware that they are hurting their families, jeopardizing their professional lives, and putting their own health at risk. They see these as compelling reasons to turn their alcoholic behavior around. But then they are faced with the hard reality of total abstinence and their resolve vaporizes.

For normal drinkers or non-drinkers, the idea that a person would not desire to recover-that they would willingly choose personal destruction-seems absurd. But individuals who have become alcohol dependent do not view the situation in these terms. They have, in a sense, become insane when it comes to alcohol. For them, alcohol abuse is no longer a choice. They are drinking to combat anxiety, depression, loneliness, mental illness, an unsettled conscience, and any number of other personal demons. In time, the body becomes so dependent on the chemical that they cannot physically function without it. In the gamble with alcoholism, the threats of losing job, health, family, friends, and even life itself are chips that have lost their value. Alcohol holds the cards now.

For many, drinking is more than a pastime or a stress reliever; for those who are truly alcohol-dependent, alcohol is a means of slow suicide. They may not want to take the drastic steps of buying a gun and pulling the trigger, they are afraid to string up the rope in the closet, or they reject the prospect of suicide on the basis of religious convictions. But they are, in effect, feeding themselves a poison that will kill them slowly and painfully over time. Though if asked, they may not say they are bent on personal obliteration, their actions scream the truth.

Can you stop a person in the process of committing suicide? Is it possible to help them see the deadly path they persist on following? The answer is complicated and every situation is different. Many alcoholics do awaken to see the danger ahead and they get off the train before it crashes. Others remain hell-bent on drinking themselves to death. Ultimately the alcoholic’s fate is in his or her own hands. If the alcoholic in your life has, in a sense, become committed to wasting away, there may be nothing you can do to stop it.

This is a humbling and painful realization. We believe that by force of will we can accomplish whatever we set out to do-that we can move the universe in our direction if our motives are good. But alcohol will show you differently. Though your motives pure, though you desire the best for the alcoholic in your life, you cannot coerce him or her to want the best. These are choices and actions we cannot make or take for other people, no matter how much we love them or how close to them we may be.