An alarming number of lives in my immediate family have been cut short due to alcoholism and there are some more who are going towards the same fate. It is the most unfortunate kind of death and at the funerals, I don’t know whether to feel sad or angry. People go cursing alcohol and the lives it has taken but alcohol is never the culprit, it’s just an excuse. Sometimes I feel like we should start training the younger generation on how to consume alcohol in moderation and not abuse it. The moment we are capable of thought, we are robotically made to believe that alcohol is bad and making it extremely tempting by the time we reach the rebellious age.
I’m definite that all the uncles and cousins I have lost to alcoholism didn’t even know whether they liked the taste of the particular alcohol that they regularly abused because in my hometown, we merely have access to some 5 or 6 brands of beer, 3 or 4 types of whiskey, 1 or 2 brands of vodka and rum and the few local rice beers. We have such limited access and yet every other day somebody still dies from this same disease. It is even more embarrassing for me to mention that my state is a dry state. It is that stupid.
Alcoholism kills millions of people all around the world and whereas the reason that drives them to pick up the bottle may be varied and sometimes pitiable, it still doesn’t justify. I know from experience that alcoholics always have millions of reasons and explanations on their defense. They blame themselves, blame everybody, blame their successes or failures, apologizes, promises and can sometimes even brainwash us. At the end of the day it is a disease but this disease doesn’t affect only one person, the whole family suffers in agony and at most times more than the sick person. A broken family is a certain outcome of alcoholism and then there are these vulnerable children who are at the risk of becoming depressed or even turning to alcohol in future.
Life with an alcoholic is brutal. I often end up thinking if life would be better without that person in my life and cry why I am being punished in this manner. On my weakest days, I feel like becoming an alcoholic myself and teach that person an important lesson but I know that is not a solution in any way. I comfort myself with thoughts that however distressing the journey may be, it will come to an end. The shame, the anger, the sleepless nights, the desperation and the misery will end one day and then there will just be peace of mind. I wish I could say that it is possible to think this way everyday but it is not. Alcoholics push us to the edge every now and then, sometimes on continuous days that only an inhuman can keep a calm and rational mind at all times. It doesn’t matter how old we are, whether we are a toddler or a ninety-year-old in our death bed, alcoholism doesn’t spare anybody.
There are treatments for alcoholism but why are we so reluctant to go for it? even when we do send our loved ones to rehab, its a hush-hush affair which we try not to leak the information fearing a bad name(?). Everybody is affected by it and the secrets are out in the open so why then is it still a forbidden subject? We don’t talk about it enough. Actually, we don’t talk about it at all and this is why this disease is so rampant. It’s the silliest illness with the most destructive effects, destroying the largest number of people either directly or indirectly.
I understand that the success of the treatment relies mostly on the primary patient but since he isn’t the only person suffering from alcoholism, the whole family needs to be part of this treatment. I feel that only then can we find a permanent solution and knowing how easy it is to relapse, we don’t want to settle for anything lesser than that. Only mass therapy, mass participation and total honesty from everybody can get us there.
We belong to a very small community and I know the difference it will make if we just learn to accept that alcoholism is affecting our families and our society and just talk about it openly. Let us be frank about alcohol to our children, let them know that it is not bad, make them aware of how it was discovered, what is its purpose, how it helps our bodies if taking in moderation and when we turn it into something harmful. Human beings learn best from examples and I’m sure we all have ample of living (and dead) examples around us who can prove our points. According to me, this is the best thing we can do to save the future from alcohol abuse.