Alyssa is an active RN and teaches Nursing and Leadership university courses. She also has a Doctorate in Nursing Practice and a Master's in Business Administration.
What Is Alcoholism?
Jane is a successful lawyer who works very hard to please her clients. Her saying has always been, 'Work hard, play hard' and she enjoys going out to celebrate her accomplishments with colleagues. Over the past few years, Jane has changed her lifestyle to going out every night after work for drinks, even with nothing to celebrate. She has been coming into work late after partying all night, and her work isn't as good as it used to be. Last Sunday, she was charged with a DUI (Driving Under the Influence) after driving home from a lunch date with her friends. Her colleagues are concerned, and they hold a meeting to talk to her about her changes in behavior and performance. They suspect that Jane may be dealing with alcoholism.
Alcoholism is the dangerous addiction to the substance alcohol. Addiction, or dependency, is more than simply enjoying a particular thing or activity. Addiction occurs when the item or activity impacts daily life to the point where it interferes with work, responsibilities, and overall health.
Alcohol is most often consumed in wine, beer, and liquor, but can also be ingested through cough medicine, cleaning agents, and other dangerous and harmful substances. Individuals who suffer from alcoholism may build a tolerance to the substance, meaning that they require more and more alcohol to get the same effect as someone who does not drink. Unfortunately, alcoholism can lead to the body's physical and chemical dependency as the addiction progresses.
When Jane's colleagues confront her on their suspicions and concerns for her well-being, Jane is overwhelmed. It is difficult for her to accept, but she confides to the group that she has been scared to ask for help to make the changes necessary to help get her life back on track.
This is when her colleagues tell Jane about the Alcoholics Anonymous program. They explain that Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is a confidential group that exists to provide support to people trying to overcome their battle with alcohol addiction. This organization provides group support, a system of accountability, as well as a Twelve Step Program designed to help people like Jane work through their struggles and maintain a healthy physical, psychological, and social lifestyle.
Jane is worried about the changes she must make, but is excited to get started in the program. Her colleagues took the liberty of contacting a local AA group to provide Jane with a schedule of group meetings to attend.
The AA Program
Jane arrives to her first meeting and picks up a brochure about the history of the AA Program. She learns that AA was first started in 1935 with the primary goal to help alcoholics achieve sobriety, the act of abstaining from alcohol. She finds that the brochure also outlines several integral aspects of the program designed to help its participants achieve sober lifestyles.
The Twelve Steps
A list of items designed to reset the individual struggling with alcoholism, the Twelve Steps guides the person on a journey towards spiritual and mental recovery from their addiction. The Steps begin with the admission that life has become unmanageable as a result of alcohol, and continues with assignments like:
- Creating a moral inventory of wrong-doings committed as a result of alcohol
- Confiding in God and another person about the nature of the wrong-doings
- Making a list of all people hurt as a result of addiction and then apologizing to them
- Developing a relationship with God or a higher power to establish spiritual accountability
Open meetings, like the one Jane is currently attending, are held for anyone who struggles with alcohol addiction or is close to someone with alcohol addiction. During these meetings participants are encouraged to share their experiences related to alcoholism and talk about how the program has changed their lives.
At the end of the open meeting, Jane is approached by a senior member who invites her to a closed meeting. Closed meetings have the same objective as open meetings, however, only people who struggle with alcohol themselves may attend and participate. Family members, friends, and significant others who do not have issues with sobriety are not allowed to participate. These meetings allow for deeper exploration and more personal stories to be expressed amongst a group of people who can closely relate to one another.
The Road to Sobriety
Now that Jane has attended a few meetings and learned about some of the devastating effects of alcoholism, she is ready to commit herself to working towards sobriety. She establishes a sponsor, or a mentor, to help keep her accountable to her new commitment. She frequently reads the Twelve Step book and begins the difficult journey of conquering each step, despite the emotional challenges she may face in doing so.
The term alcoholism indicates an addiction, or dependency, to the substance alcohol. Over time, regular ingestion of alcohol can cause tolerance, requiring the person to drink more to achieve the same effect. Many people who struggle with alcoholism seek help through the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) program, which provides a step system and meetings to help individuals overcome their struggles to achieve sobriety. While maintaining a sober lifestyle is a challenge for alcoholics, establishment of a sponsor to mentor and counsel an individual can help make the AA program more successful.
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