April is Alcohol Awareness Month: Each April since 1987, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month to increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.
If you’re reading this, you may not need anyone else’s help to determine if you, or a loved one, have a drinking problem. You already know. But knowing and doing something about it are two different things, aren’t they?
If you try to do something about it, you expose yourself to the world. You have a weakness, a problem, some irredeemable, shameful character flaw. Right?
No. You have a disease. Someday we may be able to publicly own this disease without shame, and so we applaud the NCADD’s efforts to reduce the stigma. Right now it’s up to each of us to decide how or if we let the world know of our struggles. But let’s not allow any feelings of embarrassment keep us from getting help.
During my battle with alcohol, I told no one. When I went to the doctor for whatever reason, I kept my drinking habits to myself. And the doctors never asked! I remember once (and wrote about it in my book) going to the emergency room with an anaphylactic reaction to the Black Russians and almonds I ate. They must have been able to smell the alcohol on my breath. Or oozing out of my pores. Yet they asked me nothing about booze—just about the food I had ingested. So I kept my secret. I could have died, yet I kept my secret. That’s how ashamed I was—I would rather have died. Literally.
And then I got treatment at Schick Shadel Hospital. In 2005.
I’m not so shy now. I’m not ashamed. I’ve gained enough self-confidence and understanding of the disease that I can say: “I don’t drink. I’ll just have water please” when asked what I’m drinking. Most people don’t ask any further questions. If they do, they’ll get straight answers.
So, get help. In treatment, there’s nothing to be ashamed of. There is no stigma. At Schick Shadel Hospital, you will be treated with respect, get medical treatment, counseling, and an aftercare plan tailored just to you. Investigate Schick: its success rate and the results of its study using fMRI technology to show the reduction in addictive cravings in the brain before and after treatment.
Visualize yourself sometime in the near future casually answering: “I’ll just have water please.”