The Difficulty In Diagnosing Early Stage
Alcoholism was recognized as a disease by the
American Medical Association in the 1950s. Prior to that time,
many people viewed alcoholics as having a weak moral character.
The AMA's classification has helped to ease the social stigma
attached to the disease and opened the door to the evolution of
therapeutic techniques and facilities to treat the disease.
In its early stages, the diagnosis of alcoholism is problematic
because it does not present clearly observable physical
pathology. Therefore, it is not measurable, quantitative,
although, it is highly observable from a behavioral
Unlike the victim of other diseases, the alcoholic, in general,
does not seek or want treatment. The usual model of early
detection, early cure does not apply. In fact, there isn't a cure
for alcoholism, only remission through abstinence.
Alcoholism is a progressive disease that can be best seen as
lying on a continuum from teetotaler, to user, to abuser, to
problem drinker, to functional alcoholic, to all but hopeless
alcoholic. There are individuals who abuse alcohol that moderate
their drinking or abstain completely and do not become
alcoholics. Once someone has crossed the line into alcoholism,
there is no reversal of the disease.
One characteristic that sets alcoholics apart from casual users
is that the alcoholic invests an immense degree of importance to
alcohol once they've started drinking. For some, alcohol is more
important than family or a job, and they protect their supply to
be able to continue drinking. Denial of their problem leads to
more drinking, and it's unlikely for many that they would ever
stop unless something got in their way.
Intervention is one method of helping the alcoholic. It is a
meeting of the people who are most important to him or her and is
designed to confront the alcoholic's denial of his disease. The
goal of intervention is to convince the alcoholic to enter
treatment. Often, someone skilled in intervention techniques will
lead the group because confronting a person's denial system is
difficult to do without training. A failed attempt could further
alienate the alcoholic. Sometimes the intervention is in the form
of a court order to enter treatment after a DUI or other crime
has been brought before the judge.
Father Joseph Martin, a pioneer in treatment, defined alcoholism
simply when he said, "Whatever causes problems is a problem."
This ended the debate in some circles over the definition of
alcoholism. If a drinker has problems as a result of his
drinking, whether it's his health, relationships, his job or
criminal problems, then the solution is to find help. In his
lifetime, Father Martin helped thousands of alcoholics with his
pragmatic philosophy, a message carried in part by his film
"Chalk Talk," a thorough discussion of the disease centered
around his illustrations on a green chalkboard. He realized that
some people require treatment to begin their recovery in
Alcoholics Anonymous, the program that works the best for the
most, as he put it.
It has been said that AA is a simple program for complicated
people. AA's founders, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, discovered that they
could stay sober a day at a time by sharing their stories with
each other, and by helping other alcoholics who still suffered. I
have found the 12 steps to be flawless in concept. Millions of
people have now been able to stay sober for one day by not
picking up the first drink. How many people with other diseases
would trade places with the recovering alcoholic if they could do
so with the simple, but often difficult treatment of not picking
up a drink for one day?
Copyright ©2012 Michael Jackson Smith
Overview of The Road To Fort Worth
Jack Wendell's rite of passage into adulthood began
three hours before midnight on the eve of his twenty-first
birthday. On his stroll across campus, he watched one foot follow
the other in a rhythmic pattern and thought about time. As he
stepped from the past into the future, he was stunned by the
realization that the present moment was so fleeting that it
couldn't exist. His breathing became shallow and feelings of
horror flushed through his body in spasms, like waves crashing on
the shoreline, retreating, then returning in another blow. He was
convinced that he had entered a portal into hell, and he endured
the agony of the next three hours. When the clock struck
midnight, he entered a bar, ordered a glass of whiskey, and the
elixir washed away his panic with three magic bends of his
This was only the beginning of Wendell's long love
affair with booze, his only relief from the anxiety attacks that
haunted him in an era when little was known about the disorder.
He couldn't function with the anxiety that possessed him and
drank in an attempt to control his horrifying feelings, but
couldn't work in a perpetual state of intoxication. On his
journey, he encountered a host of unlikely companions and
circumstances, including rehabs, institutions, therapists and a
horde of dysfunctional people who would harbor him for a time,
yet, sooner or later, he was forced onto the street again in
search of another haven, where he could drink to his heart's
The Road To Fort Worth is a long overdue
novel about a man suffering from panic disorder and alcoholism.
It could be seen as a continuation of Charles R. Jackson's
classic novel, The Lost Weekend. It's the story of a life
on the rocks with a twist of lemon. It's the story of how one man
learned to untie the inextricable knot binding two debilitating
disorders that so many people have been unable to unravel.
-Michael Jackson Smith
"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will
set you free."
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