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Alcoholism

I. What is alcoholism?

A. Chronic, progressive, incurable, fatal disease that is characterized by loss of control over alcohol and other sedatives.

1. Chronic—you’ve had the problem for a little while.

2. Progressive– Grows on you; gets worse; going to take more alcohol to get a good buzz.

3. Incurable– Always going to have it; after years of recovery; even after you stop the temptation will always be there.

4. Fatal– Does kill you; Kills you physically, mentally, and kills relationships.

B. Primary Disease – Alcohol becomes more important than anything else: you’ve got to stop this before you can cure anything else (depression, marriage, anxiety, etc.)

C. An allergy – alcoholics are allergic to alcohol. Its first effect is like it is to others, giving a little buzz, but when that wears off, they feel an uncomfortable feeling in every cell that gets blood, which is experienced as a “dis-ease” that calls for another drink.

II. Stages the disease goes through:

A. Phase one (physical) – do things under the influence of alcohol that a person might regret; say things that might upset somebody else, or maybe become violent towards another person.

1. Blackouts – people aren’t aware that a person maybe blacked out; the person who was blacked out does not remember a thing

2. Sneak Drinking

3. Mentally preoccupied with booze

4. Gulping drinks

5. Looses temper under booze

6. Blaming booze for misconduct

B. Phase Two (middle phase) – builds up into serious problems

1. Make alibis for drinking

2. More remorse

3. Go on the wagon

4. Try to change the pattern of your drinking

5. Socializing more with heavy drinkers than normal people

6. Problems on the job

7. Problem’s in the person’s family life

8. Have a secret supply

9. Physical and psychological changes

C. Final phase

1.  Start breaking moral rules (stealing, cheating etc . . .)

2. Logic distorts to where a person plans their whole life around drinking

3. Three ways out – Death, insanity, and recovery

III. Six features of addictions:

A. Tolerance – more and more of the stuff to give you the same fix or buzz

B. Obsession – steals attention away from everyday things; think about it more and more, sometimes even when you’re trying to think about something else

C. Withdrawal pains – shakes, bad stress tolerance after the drink wears off, creating the desire for another drink

D. Lose will power – you break promises to yourself about your drinking

E. Tremendous Denial – you don’t connect problems to drinking that others do; ask the question: How would you know if you were an alcoholic?

F. Self defeating pattern of behavior under the influence

IV. Recovery: It’s PEOPLE and PRINCIPLES

(you can’t do one without the other)

A. People

1. At AA meetings find a person who you thought sounded really good during the meeting and get their number.

2. Ask that person to be your temporary sponsor

3. Stick with the winners

4. Stick around after the meeting because maybe some people will get together afterwards to provide further support

B. Principles

1. The battle is to surrender the flesh to God

2. The flesh needs to be trained to understand that it does have cravings but also to understand the word no; it needs to learn to KNOW better than to have a drink, even when you WANT one.

3. The two main things to read are “The Big Book” (which tells how the Program works, and gives the stories of many who have recovered) And the “Twelve and Twelve” which explains the twelve steps for the alcoholic and 12 principles for groups and meetings

V. Twelve step program: What is it?

A. “The program” is working the steps under the direction of a sponsor, who has worked through the steps successfully himself.

B. What are the twelve steps?

1. Steps 1-3 are to help you realize how screwed up your life is on alcohol

2. Steps 4-5 are about taking a searching moral inventory of yourself

3. Steps 6-9 are about how to make amends to other people

4. Steps 10-12 are maintenance steps

VI. Effects on children of alcoholics

A. Hero– the child becomes an overachiever; perfectionist; carries the flag for the family.

B. Scapegoat – non-achievers; draw punishment to themselves to draw it away from the alcoholic.

C. Joker – “Whistle through the graveyard”; becomes very shallow; makes a joke out of everything.

D. Loner – Deeply unhappy; “lost children”; hide from everything

VII. What are co-dependents (sometimes called co-addicts)?

A. Anyone who lives lives for and through an addicted person

B. Loved ones who become addicted to alcoholics, who become addicted to trying to help them.

C. Co-dependents make it easier for the alcoholic to drink more and continue on a downward spiral.

1. Co-dependents lie to the alcoholic to make things better

2. Co-dependents make excuses for the alcoholic

3. They assume responsibility for fixing or reforming him

4. They need to learn they didn’t CAUSE it, can’t CURE it, and can’t CONTROL it (the alcoholism)

D. Like alcoholics, they can recover much better if they work a program of recovery too. Al-Anon is a fellowship just like AA, often with meetings at the same time and place, just down the hall.


Catholic Prayer for Repentance (it’s 12-step friendly):

O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you and I detest my sins because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they offend you, my God, Who are all good and deserving of my love. I firmly resolve with the help of your grace to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life. Amen.

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About Dr. Paul Schmidt, PhD

Dr. Paul Schmidt, PhD is a psychologist life coach with offices in Louisville and Shelbyville, KY, 502 633 2860.