There's Good News, There's Bad News
The doctor walks into the room and says, "I've got some good news and I've got some bad news. The bad news is you have a chronic, complex, incurable, progressive, fatal if not treated, disease. The good news is that there is a proven program for recovery." My guess is that you would be happy with the part that you can recover. The Doctor goes on to say that there is no medicine you need to take, no surgery required, no radiation treatment, no injections. You probably would be thinking that this can't be true. It's too good to be true. The doctor proceeds to tell you that the program isn't easy, but it's simple. The disease is three-fold in nature: physical, mental and spiritual. Effective treatment requires all three aspects to be addressed. The directions are clear cut. It demands honesty with yourself and requires practice. The tools, directions and teachers will be provided. You must have a desire and a willingness to want to get better. You are probably thinking...sign me up. Right?! I mean, it's a no brainer. Unfortunately, this isn't the case for most of the millions suffering from alcoholism. I recently read a study done by The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Service Administration that concluded 87% of alcoholics never seek help, 5% saw a need for help but did nothing about it, leaving only 8% who seek help. Unbelievable.
I've been on both sides of the heartbreak of this disease. The ultimate heartbreak came when we lost my brother to the disease in April of last year. On the other side, I was breaking my family's hearts as they watched me slowly kill myself at the hand of what had just taken my brother from us.
I think about my brother all the time, especially when it comes to my recovery. I wish I would have had the courage to be honest with myself long ago. I wish I would have led the way for him, as I had done most our lives as his big sister. I wish I would have known more about the disease and what recovery meant. I wish recovery could have been something that we shared as adults. In some way, I guess we do. My brother led the way for me to recover, giving me the chance to share OUR stories.
So, you can look at it two ways. You can accept alcoholism as bad news; you have a chronic, complex, incurable, progressive, fatal if not treated disease. Or, you can accept alcoholism with the good news and choose recovery.