What Does an Alcoholic Look Like?

What Does an Alcoholic Look Like?

People who regularly abuse alcohol as a coping mechanism for life, and those who are afflicted with the American Medical Association-defined disease of alcoholism, go to great lengths to hide their abuse or addiction. Far too often, spouses, friends and family members become unfortunate enablers, allowing the alcoholic the capacity to continue abusing.

Only an estimated 2 to 3 percent of alcoholics match the stereotyped image of a "skid row drunk," stumbling around in an alley or under a bridge. Most alcoholics and alcohol abusers go to great length to hide the dangerous level of drinking they indulge in.

Alcohol abuse creates much broader problems than are typically formally attributed. Almost any law enforcement official or probation officer will confirm that roughly 75 percent of all crimes resulting in a prison or jail term involve alcohol in some form.

And it for certain doesn't stop there. Alarmingly, but perhaps not surprisingly, a University of Washington study released in 2012 showed that up to 15 percent of U.S. surgeons had experienced problems with alcohol abuse. That's higher than the 9 percent general rate of reported alcohol abuse in the American population.

One of the organizers said that it's possible that the percent of surgeons with alcoholism is underestimated in this study. Why? Just like other abusers of alcohol, the people who were less likely to respond might have shame and fear associated with their alcohol abuse and dependence. Nobody wants that stigma.

The Talbott Recovery Center in Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the most successful rehab centers for treating physicians, nurses and other professionals struggling with alcohol and substance addictions. Their medical director stated:

"There is this issue of personality traits in our patients. Obsessive compulsive, avoidant and passive-aggressive personality are over-represented in our patient population. Our patients have a dense blind spot to the manner in which their fixed ways of thinking, behaving and dealing with real life situations interacts with their addiction and impacts their lives in many different ways" (https://www.talbottcampus.com/index.php/about-us/medical-directors-message).

And if alcohol is "no respecter of persons" when it comes to surgeons, physicians, nurses, radiologists and other medical professionals, what does that mean for you?

As noted elsewhere in this study aid, occasional and moderate use of alcohol is permissible from a biblical perspective.

But alcohol used to mask chronic symptoms of anxiety, depression, interpersonal issues, family or work problems and other issues can quickly and decisively lead to a progressive emotional, physical and spiritual condition where things will go badly in a hurry.  Let's face facts: If you're hiding how much you're drinking from others (who probably at least already suspect that something's up), then you're already in trouble.

The good news is that being in trouble with alcohol doesn't mean that you're dead. But it does mean that you need to get out of denial, get honest and get help. Stop trying to fix things, to manage things, to control things. Humility, self-honesty, and surrender are on your list. The sooner you take action to start on a road to recovery, the faster things will turn around for you.

There is hope!