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Alcoholism: A Self-Preserving Disease

answered 09:51 AM EST, Tue May 22, 2012
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Hi, my name is Carla. I am writing to you about my 68 father. Today was a very bad day. We had a family day planned and again my dad had to ruin it by drinking rubbing alcohol. He is a very heavy drinker but now has turned to mouthwash, hand-sanitizer, rubbing alcohol... This has been going on for more than 30 years but has just gotten worse. He says he dosen't want to live anymore and my brother and sister back me up with whatever im going to do. I need to know whom my I talk to about this before he really hurts himself.

Dr. James Strawbridge Says...

Your remarks indicate your father is alcoholic. This is a disease that keeps itself secret from the victim. While the disease is dismantling the alcoholic's life, the alcoholic is working to preserve the disease. We can compare alcoholic to someone who thinks throwing gasoline on a burning house makes sense. Faced with an inferno caused by addiction, alcoholics always return to the same thought: another drink is the solution. This delusional thinking is not self-induced; it's a symptom of the disease. 

Katherin Ketcham and William Asbury write in "Beyond the Influence” alcoholics in denial have been called stupid, stubborm, selfish, and pigheaded... but in reality they are simply following the dictates of their addicted brains. This is why they can't accurately judge what's happening to them, why they stubborly refuse to look at reality, and why they can't “just say no.” Their brains are urging them on using all sorts of physical and emotional prods. “Go ahead and take a drink, it won't jurt you,” the brain cajoles.


Convincing an alcoholic to accept help is a formidable task, and, by including another person you have a better chance. Selecting someone your father likes and respects; a lifelong friend, sibling, adult grandchild, or clergy-person. Whom ever you choose.


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Page last updated May 22, 2012

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