Hub and I had the opportunity to help a friend last week. I'm not sharing names because its sensitive in nature and I don't want to do that without their permission. However, the situation is common and needs to be brought to life in hopes that it might help someone else.
My friend is an alcoholic. This wasn't something they chose. Something inside their brain functions differently from "normies" like me. It's been determined to be genetic, and 88,000 people die of alcohol related causes annually in the United States alone. The disease generally progresses slowly, and before you know it, you can't go a day without it. It wreaks havoc on everything and everyone around it. It does not discriminate and can impact anyone - regardless of age, gender, economic status, or ethnicity. Sometimes it is ignored, hidden by family and friends because of the negative stigma associated with the disease. This never helps.
I received an late night/early morning text asking for help. I immediately called them when I woke up, and the voice on the other end was desperate. They wanted the cycle to end, and was ready to admit they had a problem. I'd experienced this very close to me in years past, and this friend knew it. They knew I would know who to call, where to go, and that I wouldn't let them back out as they began drinking that day. After a few questions to make sure they were sincere, hub and I jumped in the car and began the journey to go get our friend.
The friend stayed with us that night awaiting a bed in Bradford's rehab center. There was fear, but there was determination. They kept focusing on all of the reasons to get clean....kids, grandkids, parents, and a future. We talked, laughed, prayed, and cried. We didn't get much sleep, but it didn't matter. The room was booked, and they were not turning back! I kept telling my friend how proud I was of them, how they would feel the fog lift within just a few days, and how they would be able to live life to the fullest afterwards. We also discussed the fact that this was a lifetime commitment. There would be no more social drinking at functions, because that leads the alcoholic right back to the place of dependence. Relapse is a real thing, especially if they play around with drinking out of false security. I've seen it happen, and I know it to be true. Even in my friend's clouded mind, they understood this, and was still ready to press onward.
The trip to the treatment facility was filled with calling loved ones, crying over guilt and shame, and having mini-break downs from fear of the unknown. However, as we drove through the gates and cleared security, my friend began to relax a bit. They knew it was safe. They knew it was where they needed to be. They knew it was the beginning of the rest of their life. I look forward to hugging that neck extra tight once they are out of treatment.
One of our overnight discussions was how society treats alcoholics. We laughed about the fact that there were "whisper words" growing up in the South..."cancer", "divorce", "abuse", "alcoholic".... if you're a Southerner you will understand this, and probably be able to add a few of your own. These things weren't openly discussed, and often came with a judgmental tone attached. As I've grown older, things have gotten better as far as being able to openly share struggles so help can be received. Education on these touchy subjects has also increased, thus making it less taboo. We live in a world where ALL have sinned, ALL have struggles, and we need not look down on anyone for their shortcomings, even if it's a whisper word.
If you need help, don't be afraid to get help. Reach out! Don't let your guilt and shame trick you into thinking that you don't deserve it. You do!
If you have someone close to you that needs help, get educated. They might not be ready to ask right now, but when they do, you'll need to know how to help them. Alcoholics Anonymous (aa.org) and Al-Anon (al-anon.org) provide tons of information that is free and available. This disease is not going anywhere. Let's take the merciless veil off our faces and open up to assist those in need. That's one of the things we were put here to do. LOVE one another as Christ loves us.