Why does the person with alcoholism resist change even when his life is falling apart, his health is deteriorating, after jobs and relationships and even freedom has been sacrificed?
In part, because he recalls how good it once made him feel.
How Alcoholics Think About Drinking
To the family, alcohol may seem like the cause of problems. But to the alcoholic person, it remains a friend. Most are able to summon up a positive memory of the way things used to be, before the problems set in. Psychologists sometimes call it euphoric recall. Every addicted person has a fund of positive experiences that counter the reality of his current relationship with the drug.
Besides, there are powerful social barriers to seeking help:
Society traditionally views the alcoholic / addicted person as an inferior. Would you acknowledge alcoholism if you regarded it as an admission of moral and psychological inferiority?
Denial, rationalizing, minimizing, externalizing and the rest — all prevent the person with alcoholism from recognizing the extent and severity of addiction.
Addicted and alcoholic people rely on the helpfulness of others — who worry that if they don’t help, something worse will happen. But the consequences from which we protect them are the most powerful reasons to change.
We can’t ‘fix’ the alcoholic or addicted person. But we’re not powerless, either. There are things we can do (and refrain from doing!) that may directly increase their motivation for recovery.
The concept or label of ‘alcoholic’ itself can be highly stigmatising, as well as medically questionable versus dependence. I would always seek to avoid labelling someone else as ‘alcoholic’ – instead dependent or problem drinker. Of course if someone chooses that term themself there is no issue, but would still attempt to avoid reinforcing an idea that often fuels stigma and helplessness.Comment by James Morris — September 15, 2014 @ 1:20 pm