Can’t Be Bothered.

I've just come from a call to one of my semi-regulars. He's alcoholic, has a stomach ulcer, and is as thin as a rake. He is sitting in a filthy kitchen surrounded by empty bottles of cheap booze.He's 26 years old.
His friend, of the same age, is also an alcoholic. He has pancreatitis.
Asked if they want to try a rehab programme, I was told that they weren't interested.
I've got to confess, it made me angry. Two lives being washed away with bottles of cheap cider.
“So you want to die?”, I asked.
They didn't have an answer.
Now I just want to hit something.

16 thoughts on “Can’t Be Bothered.”

  1. Hey, you can't make it better all the time. Guess you just got to keep trying even if the person really does need a smack on the gob or even better a drop kick!Hope the urge to hit something doesn't lurk around to long.

  2. 26 – that's so young but really it sounds as if they are dead already – or want to be. Why did they call in the first place? Perhaps they don't want to die really. Alcoholism is a terrible disease.

  3. PS: Well done for getting your nine out of ten write up today in the media section of The Independent. Maybe you didn't see it but you were tipped to be the next published blogger – as in book!

  4. As a medical professional in the UK, how would you define alcoholism?Is it alcoholism if you binge drink twice a week, or is it more the bottle-of-whisky by the bed to start your day level we're talking about here?

    Obviously the septics paint anyone who gets even vaguely drunk with any kind of regularity as an alcoholic, but I'd be interested to hear what the definition is on this side of the pond.

  5. Good question. I'm 26 just like the guy in this entry, and I like a drink. In fact I drink 5 or 6 cans of beer every single night and have done for several years – far too much of course, by medical standards.That said, I certainly wouldn't consider myself an alcoholic. I hold a good professional job, have a fiance and a nice house. I never drink during the day (not even at lunchtime, on the rare occasions that I eat in a pub). If I'm driving then I will abstain totally. I'm very aware of my little habit, and would never let it control me.

    What label would be applied to me? Drinker? Heavy Drinker? Alcoholic?

  6. I started writing a lot of stuff but just deleted it.Its time we calculated the tax on booze based on what it costs us to treat the small group of people damaged by it.

    At least we still treat people for illnesses/addictions (unless you smoke)

  7. I don't know about medical, but in psychology something is considered an illness/abnormality if it affects your ability to cope with a normal life, and a dependency on a substance like alcohol or heroin or valium where you would have trouble coping without it would be part of that (and no smartarse comments about “I'm dependent on oxygen/water/food” please).Could you manage a month without alcohol? Or would you get to some point in the first week or so and be going “bloody hell, I *need* a drink…” If you can't go without alcohol for a month, then you're looking down the slope of alcoholism if not already sliding your way down it.

    People I know who have tried it have either done it, no problem, and found that success reassuring – or they had trouble doing it, and it gave them the wake-up call that they really were dependent on alcohol and so they started making an effort to get it sorted out before they did their bodies and relationships permanent damage.

    And I know a lot of people will go “oh but I don't think ANY of my mates could go a month without alcohol”, all that would mean would be that addiction is the norm for that group.

  8. oh, and job/marital status/house have a grand total of buggerall to do with whether you're alcoholic or not. That's not a jab at you – it just irks me when people say “I can't have a problem, I'm middle class!”Alcoholism is famous for helping people lose those things though, if left unchecked.

  9. You make a good point. So in answer to your questions – Could I? Yes! Would I? Not without a bloody good reason!Let me explain. I could also go for a month without, say, nice food. I could survive on gruel. It would be healthier etc. etc. but I wouldn't want to do it.

    I quit smoking a while back after 10 years because it was getting expensive. It was easy – I didn't look back. If I had a reason not to drink, then I would stop. But as things stand I enjoy it. I rarely get drunk, just that nice warm feeling! My intake hasn't altered over the years, there's no tolerance.

    I think people are too quick to say that drinking leads to heavy drinking which leads to alcoholism, just as they are to say that all pot users will eventually use hard drugs.

    Even the medical community can't actually say what an alcoholic is, or even a heavy drinker. I once took one of their surveys and it said I definately wasn't a problem drinker! Even my GP doesn't seem all that bothered, she just said I should probably stop at 3 or 4 a night…?! (well above “recommended” limits)

    I have never, and would never be blaze about my health, however when you consider the potential maladies that (non-extreme) alcohol intake can cause, you'd probably be better off giving up a few food groups.

    Plus, I live happy in the knowledge that my alcohol intake has already slashed my risk of heart disease…

  10. You're right, and wrong in the same breath. Alcoholics notoriously become withdrawn, get fired, get dumped etc.If George Best wasn't famous, he'd have been on the streets in no time.

    Class doesn't prevent the disease, but I imagine one wouldn't last long living a middle class life as an alcoholic.

    Look at Tom's post – I wonder my those guys were living in a cess pit?

  11. “Plus, I live happy in the knowledge that my alcohol intake has already slashed my risk of heart disease…”Not drinking that much it hasn't. Like any medicine there's a point where you're taking an overdose and doing harm rather than good. Keep doing what you want to do but don't kid yourself it's making you healthier.

  12. you'd be amazed. I had wanted to avoid saying this, but…My father is in his 50s, and has a house with his third wife, and a job where he wears a suit. He is also an alcoholic and has been for as long as I can remember. He doesn't sleep with a bottle of gin by the pillow, but he can't go a day without drinking, always has a bottle or two of wine with dinner, always has a few pints at the Conservative Club of an evening with his friends and so on. At first he didn't drive drunk, or drink in the day but it progressed, gradually.

    His alcoholism has led to stunts like:

    Continuing, despite his remarriage, to turn up drunk at our family home trying to get in, send my mother flowers, etc.

    While still living with us, going through the wrong door at night – my sisters bedroom instead of the upstairs toilet – and very nearly taking a piss all over her room.

    Getting drunk and, when my sister and I refused to get in the car with him because he was so drunk, driving off and leaving us alone with no money or phones at 9pm on a Friday in an unfamiliar town many miles from our mother's house. We were both under 18 at the time.

    After *that* particular episode, our mother stopped pushing us to maintain contact, and we told him we'd only come and stay with him again if he could limit his drinking to one session a day and not drive drunk.

    He said that was an unreasonable demand (well, the exact response involved more swearing). As a result we haven't seen him for about seven years. Alcohol had become more important than family.

    He isn't an unusual case, I assure you.

  13. if it was easy to give up smoking, then odds are you don't get easily addicted and therefore would find it reasonably easy to stop drinking, and therefore are not dependent and therefore don't need to worry on that score. Still, if anyone ever is concerned about the amount you drink, the month off is a good way of showing you and them that there's no need to worry – and giving your body a bit of a detox too.Like I said, I'm not medical, my definition is merely psychological. I also don't know medical ins and outs of long term/short term damage to liver or brain or anything

    I doubt your GP wants to get into an argument with you when she has a load of other patients to see and drinking isn't what you came to see her about in the first place. You're more likely to cut down from 5-6 to 3-4 a night than to stop altogether.

    You're an intelligent person and you *know* you're just being blase about the alcohol intake/heart disease thing.

  14. My fiance's mother is an abstinent alcoholic, and has been for many years now. She was the same way as your father, drunk all the time. My fiance used to come home from school to find herself locked out and her mum passed out inside. I know the potential evils of alcohol, and hence feel aware enough and capable enough to avoid them. (even if I'm not, I know I'd be frog-marched to a rehab. clinic if she thought I'd developed a drinking problem!)I could be wrong, I could be a drunk failure in a few years, but I doubt it. I think that alcoholics are gentically predisposed to their addiction – studies have already highlighted a familial trait.

    The point I'd like to get across is that someone can drink a lot, and not be an alcoholic; and conversely someone can drink much less and be an alcoholic.

    As for matters of health – only a percentage of true alcoholics develop liver problems. It's a lottery alright, but everything we do in life is a balance.

    Every time you get into a car, walk down the road, take a flight, eat takeout food you're potentially risking your life. The trick is to find a balance between living life to the full and guarding your health.

    (and yes, I was being blase regarding the alcohol/heart connection – however the study did show that only heavy drinking had a cardio-protective effect ;P)

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