"An addict is a person with a problem, not a problem person," explains Allan McDougall in a raw and honest piece in the Huffington Post that details his own struggle with alcohol addiction.
McDougall speaks bluntly and accurately by saying, "Addiction is misunderstood, and it leaves those suffering from the condition stigmatized. Society makes the assumption that an addict has a personal problem, not a medical one. This leaves nearly 23 million Americans struggling with this disorder on their own, and that's an enormous human toll to pay for not getting our facts straight." He goes on to say, "Addiction is an illness made worse by our fear to talk about it. Admittedly, people don't like to -- or don't know how to -- confront someone with an addiction. And addicts themselves, shielding themselves from their pain through their drug or alcohol-induced stupor, are unable to seek help on their own."
McDougall looks at his own battle with addiction, sighting his childhood as playing a part in why he turned to alcohol for comfort. "I'd grown up with parents who were emotionally missing and a poor self-image. I was a wimpy kid who stuttered and was told by everyone that I wouldn't amount to anything. As a teenager, I learned to find comfort from my own self-loathing in a bottle."
A "functional alcoholic," he would show up to work and then turn to his addiction each night. But that is a cycle that can only last for so long. Eventually, the addiction wore him down and his own body began to give out. Add in his marriage had fallen apart, his bank account was on empty and he was alone after lying to everyone around him.
With his body betraying him he realized, "I had three choices: 1) continue drinking and end up dead or institutionalized; 2) commit suicide; or 3) find a way to stop drinking. Fortunately, my union, the United Steelworkers, had an Employee Assistance Program and the staff guided me into the treatment I needed."
McDougall urges you to sit down with someone you love, maybe even yourself, and ask these four CAGE questions if you think they, too, are struggling with an addiction to alcohol:
- Are you concerned about your drinking?
- Do you get Angry when someone brings up the subject?
- Do you feel Guilty the next morning?
- Have you ever had an Eye-opener in the morning to get you going?
He admits it's not an easy conversation to have with anyone, but recovery is not an easy road either and you have to start somewhere. At least here, it shows you care enough to ask the tough questions.
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