To glean a better understanding of the mysterious, baffling disease of alcoholism, I often return to the work of alcoholism expert Doug Thorburn. Our society, as a whole, has a long way to go in learning about this insidious disease:
I’m listing below some startling facts from Thorburn’s excellent book, Alcoholism Myths and Realities- Removing the Stigma of Society’s Most Destructive Disease. It’s a well-known fact that our returning combat veterans are often struggling with alcohol abuse.
- Alcoholism is the most misunderstood of all diseases. This is rather surprising, since 1 out of 10 people have this disease and we are all directly or indirectly affected.
- Doctors and psychologists whom we trust to treat diseases and mental disorders are almost completely untrained in understanding and diagnosing the affliction.
- Medical doctors take as few as 24 classroom hours on the subject, virtually all on treating withdrawal and none on diagnosis.
- 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.
- Secondary diseases are usually diagnosed long before alcoholism is identified.
- Alcoholism is the root cause or primary contributing factor to at least 300 other illnesses and 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.
I believe it is imperative that we teach a course on alcoholism in the primary grades. Thorburn notes (p.9) that most recovering alcoholics tell us they triggered alcoholism during their first drinking episode, usually at age 12 or 13.
Thinking back to my own education on this affliction, ( in my late 30′s) it took me attending a treatment center for 52 lectures on the subject, before I began to grasp the “big picture” of this disease. It is that complex; affecting body, mind and soul.
Doug Thorburn is one of the most forward-thinking of today’s alcoholism experts. I highly recommend all his books, and checking out his wonderful website and free newsletter. Get educated. The life you save may be your own, or that of a loved one. Go to: