Thursday, June 9, 2016

“Buzz Kill: Looking at Life through a Pair of Beer Goggles”

We are going to be discussing addicts, alcoholics in particular, and not in an adorable Disney style fairytale kind of way either, but more of a “Dateline: To Catch an Alcoholic” kind of way. Needless to say it’s going to get a little messy in here and some feelings are bound to be hurt.

With that said, if you don’t currently have a problem with the magic elixir that can take cares away like Tylenol does headaches, then feel free to crack one open and sit back and enjoy. However, if you suffer from what I like to call “Beauty and the Beast” syndrome (a beauty of a person when your tank is on empty, but once full you become a beast, all thanks to the newly found liquid courage the great and powerful Oz. [ounces of alcohol that is] has granted you) or regardless of whether you’re sober or drunk you’re a dick, then maybe you should drink a cup of coffee and chill, because a sober dick is a lot easier to tolerate than a drunk dick any day.

Many American families are infested with them as if they were roaches, but unfortunately they don’t disappear when the lights come on or go “crunch” under your feet. The Hughes Brothers’ movie, “Menace to Society” could have very well been written about them. Am I being unfair to the alcoholic, ask anyone who has had to endure their crazy antics and dysfunctional behavior how they feel about the whole situation and you’ll have your answer.

You have those who do nothing more than cry in their beer, stay to themselves and keep the Budweiser’s Clydesdales galloping all the way to the bank, and for the most part harmless and not confrontational. Although they have a twin, an annoying doppelganger if you will, and those are the individuals who deserve a swift kick in the ass and who this piece is dedicated to. 

They don’t care who they hurt in the process, and the only twelve steps they are willing to follow are only the ones that lead to more alcohol. 

For the record, I don’t believe that all alcoholics are monsters, things that go bump in the night if you will, but unfortunately there are many who belong in a padded cell. They don’t care about anything or anyone, all they’re concern with is where their next drink is coming from and how soon can they get it, that’s the grim reality of it.

“It’s a disease! They have no control over it!”…

We classify many different conditions and addictions as diseases in this country, which I can only assume is to make people feel better about overindulging, physically, mentally and of course financially. This rule however seems to only apply to vices that are legal and that are making sizeable donations (aka taxes) to the pockets of good old Uncle Sam. One of the reasons marijuana isn’t legal is because people can easily grow it themselves, thus cutting out the middleman and avoid paying taxes on it, and we all know that our government doesn’t like it when they (undeservingly) don’t get their fair share of the pie.

Regardless how many “doctors” say it is. Doctors are not gods, they are fallible and not without personal bias, if they weren’t there would be no need for a second opinion. When it comes to doctors the good guys don’t always wear white, the stereotypical drug dealer has been replaced by a man in a white coat armed with a pen and a prescription pad and the crack house, replaced by the pharmacy. Prescription pill epidemic anyone? Medicine is a business and doctors are businessmen, you’d be wise to remember that.

I know that not all doctors are irresponsibly writing prescriptions and/or consciously contributing to the demise of our civilization, however, there are a good percentage of them who are and I tell you this to hopefully open your eyes to what’s really going on in this world of ours. The X-Files said it best, “The truth is out there”!

If alcoholism is indeed a disease, shouldn't the alcoholic who is pulled over for drinking and driving be taken away in an ambulance instead of a cop car, brought to a hospital instead of a jail? Society's double standard?

It is a conscious decision made from a sound mind, not a birth defect or a little beer bottle sitting on their shoulder talking them into getting down with the drink. We all have the propensity to be addicted to something, we like something we want more of it, that’s how it is. So I guess we’re all diseased, right? Now off course these addictions vary from person to person, some can partake in their personal pleasures every now and then without letting them overtake their lives, while others just can’t let go of the dragon and do everything in their power to continuously peruse it.

The whole “disease” mentality is a way for alcoholics (and sympathizers) to justify their unhealthy behavior and as a means to help family/friends keep the facade intact of a loving and caring family member/friend, because it’s more comfortable to believe that it’s not their loved ones performing these destructive acts but rather the disease making them do it. We are lead to believe from a very young age that anyone born under our family crest loves us unconditionally and only have our best interests at heart, but “family” is only a word and not a contract. Because someone shares our bloodline doesn’t mean that they share our commitment and feelings towards one and another. That may sound dark and bleak, but it’s reality whether we want to accept it or not.

Classifying it as such is a slap in the face to those who are truly battling legitimate diseases, in the same way that an individual who never served this great country of ours, but claimed to, only for the praise and accolades such a position would warrant, would.

"Forget alcoholism, the real dreaded disease that is sweeping the nation is gulliblism, it's where the poor unfortunate victims believe everything that they are told without question!"

“Alcoholics and other drug addicts aren’t one in the same. You’re comparing Apples to oranges here!”…

You’re an alcoholic you’re sick, overcome by a dreadful disease that controls you as if you were Achmed and it Jeff Dunham. Alternatively though, if your preferred poison happens to be that of an illegal street drug you’re considered a no-good addict, plain and simple. There are no heroinaholics! 

Some people will lead you to believe that an addiction is an addiction, and that one is not treated any differently than another, but I can guarantee that if you ask someone who hits the crack pipe instead of sips from a can for a good time how they are treated and viewed by the masses you will get the real story.

When you’re an alcoholic you go to AA, but at the same time if you’re an addict of any other drug the only letters you see are DEA. An alcoholic gets off with a slap on the wrist and a brief stint in rehab, the addict gets thrown in the joint and is traded like a baseball card for packs of cigarettes. You’ll never see the property values drop because there’s a bar close by, but a crack house on the other hand, you might as well be living in the projects. 

I’m not trying to proudly waive the banner of illegal street drugs as an overzealous fanatic who is cheering for their favorite sports team as they go in for the win, would, nor am I saying that I think they should be legalized, I just don’t see why we treat alcoholics differently than any other addict in this country. Are alcoholics as bad as other drug addicts, absolutely!

“You don’t understand, they’ve had a rough life. They’re tortured souls”…

There are many out there who use alcohol as a means of coping, a way to escape from some terrible wrong and/or personal hardship that life has bestowed upon them, and to them I say welcome to the human race! You would be hard pressed to find one individual out there who didn’t experience their fair share of heartache and sorrow throughout their lifetime, but not everyone runs to their local liquor store/bar when the going gets tough and tries to drown their pain. You will never find solace in an empty bottle, just a temporary fix, and if anything your predicament will only get worse.

I hear the word, “selfish” thrown around a lot when discussing the suicidal, but the truth of the matter is that the word is more fitting when talking about alcoholics. When someone feels lonely and abandoned, which is the case with many suicidal people, who exactly are they being selfish to; at least that’s how they see it. Now a drunk on the other hand they knowingly, with a sound mind, decide to partake in a drug that not only harms themselves but also those around them. Whatever the reason, they feel their needs out weight the needs of the many, including those of their so-called loved ones.

There are healthier and less destructive ways to overcome the travesties we have faced. I’m not trying to sound heartless or uncompassionate to their plights, but we’ve all have been there, and most of us have survived to see another day without the aid of alcohol.

“What? You mean we should be responsible for our own actions and stop blaming them on something else? That’s sacrilegious and totally not how we do things here. Get out of here you witch!”… 

To paraphrase the great poet Shaggy (Mr. Boombastic if you’re nasty), “It wasn’t them”…or at least that’s what they want you to believe. We need an exorcism, they are all possessed by an evil alcoholic spirit…a spirit they bought from the liquor store nonetheless.

We treat alcoholics as if they are the victims, but they are far from it. They are not the victim, we are. We need to stop having pity on the abuser. We wouldn’t have sympathy for the man who beat his wife, so why do we for the people who destroy the lives of many around them and all those in their destructive paths?  This fact amazes and leaves me scratching my head in utter confusion. They are the aggressors, the ones behind a good portion of the unnecessary madness that covers this country like a tent around the home with termites, yet we are told that we should have pity on them and turn the other cheek to their wrong-doings.

We are too soft, we coddle those who don’t deserve it and if there’s money to be made, more than willing to look the other way and act like we didn’t see anything at all. 

I can guarantee that there are some who are reading this that think I’m crazy, that having a drink or two isn’t a bad thing, and to them I say you are correct. The problem isn’t the alcohol but rather the alcoholic. I’m sure this next statement is going to get me into hot water, but it’s the same thing when it comes to guns, it’s not the gun that’s the problem it’s the person behind the trigger that is.

“Hello! May I HELP you?”…

I’m all for someone getting help, but what I don’t understand is why they want to be anonymous while they are getting it? While they are out getting their drunk on and running amok they are as loud and obnoxious as can be. One would think they would be happy to let the world know they are getting help, that's a good thing, and get their drunk on in private, because that's embarrassing. 

You want to do something about being out of shape you go to a “public” gym and workout, or go to a “public” park and go for a run or even to a “public” restaurant and order a salad while everyone else is pigging out on pizza. You’re proud to show people that you’re concerned about your health and wellbeing. You want to stop drinking you go a private meeting, which is closed off to the public and totally secret, like you’re in the mob. I’m not trying to knock anyone for getting help with a drinking problem; I just don’t understand why some people feel shameful about it, but if it works for them then that is all that matters.

I can’t stand those pretend quitters though, the ones who only say it because it’s the right thing to say and/or because they are looking for that, “awww poor alcoholic” pseudo-love crap. Telling someone that you want to go to rehab/detox when you have a load on, is the same thing as telling someone you’re worried about your heart as you’re scarfing down a Big Mac, large fries and a diet soda…because you’re watching your weight. Stop the madness, if you don’t want help and plan on drinking until the day you die, man up and hit the bricks, never to return. Do something worthwhile for those who are unfortunately (dis)graced by your presence, it’s the least you could do. You already, “screwed the hooch (pooch)” with your life, don’t make the same mistake with someone else’s.

I'm not saying that alcoholism isn't difficult to overcome, but it's possible and for those who have, they should be commended and admired for their strength and the courage it took to conquer their demons, very admirable.

The recovering alcoholic is fine; it’s the repeat offenders we don’t like.

“How do you know what it’s like? You’re not an alcoholic!”…

What makes me an expert on the topic, how long do you have? I’m just kidding; I’ll give you the condensed version, which is a privilege I was never awarded when I was forced to sit through all those inane ramblings by some intoxicated booze hound when I was a child.

I have almost forty years of experience dealing with the walking drunks, both as close family and family friends who seem to come free with the purchase of every case of beer, and unlike my fathers (yes that is correct, plural), they never left. I drink, and yes I have my favorites, but I do so in moderation and continue to maintain a functional life…even with the alcoholic gene in my DNA.

I’ve heard all the excuses, blaming everyone and everything (except for themselves of course) on why it is that they drink like a fish. I’ve witnessed the unapologetic thievery, the ridiculous brawls and the complete lack of respect for all involved. When the well ran dry these people drank just about anything that contained alcohol, mouthwash, cold medicine and even aftershave, trust me I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve had occasions, regardless of the setting, ruined by their unremorseful antics. These people made my life very unsettling, if it was a stomach it would have been upset and they would have been the crippling pains that kept me on the toilet heave-hoing and praying to God that it would all end soon. Let’s just say that living with them has been anything but a happy hour.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I’ve been there, done that and not ever wanting to go back. 

“Last call!’…

The whole mindset around alcoholism is completely ridiculous and utterly absurd. People really need to step back, remove their feelings from the situation, and reassess the whole thing. It’s hard to see clearly when your eyes are full of tears. 

We all know that partaking in alcohol can result in a good time, and at the risk of sounding cliché and/or like one of those afterschool specials, do it responsibly and plan accordingly if you know it’s going to be flowing freely like a fire hydrant on a hot day on a city street. When it becomes a problem, you become a problem, and that’s not cool.

Final thought; the alcoholic is the person, not some uncontrollable disease that some poor unfortunate individual comes down with and/or is born with, and when dealing with an alcoholic loved one, your love for them is all in vain if it’s not tough.

“I love you man!”…