I believe it’s safe to say—all of us know an alcoholic. They may be a “hidden” alcoholic, or their affliction may be obvious. Doug Thorburn, an expert on alcoholism and addiction, has written an eye-opening book titled Alcoholism-Myths and Realities—Removing the Stigma of Society’s Most Destructive Disease.
I’ve mentioned here before that I am a huge fan of Thorburn’s work. I often revisit his books and gain new insights. In Chapter 1, he writes:
Alcoholism is the most misunderstood of all diseases. This is rather surprising, since 1 out of 10 people has this disease and we are all directly or indirectly affected. Yet the doctors and psychologists whom we trust to treat diseases and mental disorders are almost completely untrained in understanding and diagnosing the affliction.
Thorburn also notes that psychologists are schooled in the idea that childhood trauma and other negative environmental factors can cause alcoholism even though the evidence shows that such influences only shape its course.
Facts about alcoholism:
- Secondary diseases are usually diagnosed long before alcoholism is identified, even though the latter is the root cause and primary contributing factor to at least 300 other illnesses and other disorders.
- Emergency room medical personnel treat symptoms of addiction, including accidents, in an estimated 50 to 80% of admissions, yet rarely test for alcohol or other drugs in the system.
- Most people balk at calling someone an alcoholic even if some of their behaviors are bizarre or destructive.
- Epilepsy, diabetes, leprosy, tuberculosis and other diseases were attributed in past centuries to character defects such as a lack of morals or witchcraft until their true causes were indentified.
- Over one hundred years after the stigma of the last of these diseases was largely removed, those labeled as alcoholics continue to suffer disgrace.
- Almost all those who have addicted family members in rehab, are ashamed.
When you think about these things, it’s pretty evident that we, as a society, are really failing those who are addicted and are suffering from alcoholism. I believe the only way attitudes will change, is with a massive movement on education. I’ve found all of Thorburn’s books to be outstanding.
For more information, go to Doug Thorburn’s websites: