Asking for help – it has become almost something of a cliché for anyone seeking help with alcoholism or an addiction to drugs or other substances to say that they have to acknowledge that they have a problem in order for anyone else to begin to help them.
Whilst this is generally true, it is also something of an over simplification of both the individuals need the help, and the individual sense of who can help them and what they can help them with.
There is always a danger when talking about alcoholism and other addictions of over generalising about individuals and the nature of their illness or addiction.
With that caveat, it is probably fair to say that most people who are alcoholics who reach a point where they do seek help are normally in a pretty chaotic state, both internally and externally.
The journey of anyone’s active alcoholism can be varied and wide, but one common feature tends to be that most of the time an alcoholic will believe at some point that alcohol is the only thing that is really holding them together.
As their illness progresses and their life progresses, this belief that alcohol is the only thing that will hold them together is the one thing that will deepen given some sense of stability and security.
This belief will be in stark contrast to the reality of life, both internally and externally, which is one of the main reasons dealing with an individual’s alcoholism can be so traumatic and difficult.
The reality of any individual asking for help has to be seen against the background of them acknowledging that they have a problem and what they need help with.
For someone who is an alcoholic, seeking help is a hugely difficult process because of this belief that alcohol is not the problem, but they are not sure what it is.
To them alcohol has become the solution to their problems, the solution to their heads and the fear of losing that solution is overwhelmingly terrifying. It is a huge contradiction that only someone who has suffered active alcoholism can probably fully understand.
Understanding this apparent contradiction within the head of the alcoholic is a hugely important feature of any treatment program that a rehab or treatment center offers by way of help for an alcoholic or someone who is addicted to drugs and other substances.
This is often reinforced or underpinned by having a certain proportion of staff members who have either been through rehab themselves, or who are members of 12 step fellowships such as Alcoholics Anonymous, and do at some level understand the reality of this contradiction.
There is no set answer or solution to helping an alcoholic see through this denial, it is a paradox of the nature of alcoholism that this is what recovery means.
Giving an alcoholic a safe place, and a safe environment within which to begin to heal is a hugely important precondition of them being able to square the circle of their denial and move forward.