The end of drinking is the beginning of sobriety.
The last thing you may have left as a suffering alcoholic (suffering and, alcoholic), is your best friend, The Bottle. It is possible, nay probable, that your job, home, car, spouse, family, kids, and friends are gone.
Long ago you have probably said ‘ta-ta’ to your dignity. Some of your bodily functions may have become involuntary. The mind that was once quite clever and useful could have become unreliable and problematic. Therefore, your eyes and ears deceive you often and the things you say and do are maniacal.
Considering that most of the addicts that I have met in and out of recovery are very bright and sensitive people, this state of affairs is truly pitiful. There is little wonder that the public in general and the medical profession specifically are unimpressed and unsympathetic.
So the beginning of sobriety must be the end of drinking. I like to compare the suffering alcoholic with ‘Suffering Man’.
Luna Kadampa said in ‘Samsara’s Pleasure are Deceptive‘, “Friends, the things you desire give no more contentment than drinking saltwater”. The deception in alcoholism is the illusion that drinking will solve a problem. The pleasure we temporarily get from the drink is actually causing us to suffer. And Samsara’s pleasures are similarly deceiving. We suffer because of our desirous attachment.
“Friends, the things you desire give no more contentment than drinking saltwater”.
The first step is to get help – for the alcoholic at this stage is self-help-less and hope-less. There is hope and plenty of help available but the victim at this stage needs others, and there are many, many, others. There are very good men and women who serve the public in addiction treatment and there are recovering addicts and alcoholics in most parts of the world who know that their own recovery depends upon helping others.
On the Gold Coast, Australia where I live there are around 70 meetings of AA and multiple other groups’ meetings every week.
The one trouble that is perhaps the hardest to reconcile is the lack of help that family and friends can be at this critical stage. It’s certainly very beneficial if a loved one helps through this life-changing moment. But usually, the closest ones in our life have left us in frustration and disappointment OR are part of the problem – not the solution. Those that can and will help are those who have similar problems and working solutions.
“But usually, the closest ones in our life have left us in frustration and disappointment OR are part of the problem – not the solution”.
Things don’t change unless things change – a glib saying that’s pertinent to the dilemma of alcoholic transformation. This is why change is nearly always preceded by some ‘rock-bottom’ event that jolts the alcoholic into revelationary action.
Finally, to tie the analogy of Samsara and alcoholism together, there is no party without Punch. When I realised that my delusions were in my mind and the pain of life was subjective and that my perspectives determined my happiness, I began to practice thousands-of-years-old remedies to daily problems. Similarly, when I had, through a life-threatening event, realised that I’m an alcoholic and my life had become unmanageable, I used tried and tested methods to extend my life and happiness.
In the process, I began to live a life of mindful kindness and harmonious usefulness to my fellow man.