Another open letter, I seem to be writing them a lot lately, but anyway here goes. There have been posts on my social media feeds recently from people I consider friends, that have left me with a bitter tate in my mouth. I want to say now that I once had similar opinions to those voiced in these posts, and I’m not proud of that fact. Over the past couple of years, my opinions have changed (in my opinion for the better), and I hope that by posting this, I can enlighten others.
I get it. I truly do. I’ve been in your shoes, I’ve judged someone solely on the fact they have AUD. I’ve questioned why they can’t just put the bottle/can down, sober up and make a go of their lives, stop the abuse towards others, get off the streets, etc. I know now that I was wrong. AUD is not a choice. It is a learned behaviour that can stem from a genetic trait. A behaviour that over time becomes so overwhelming that it is all consuming. Over the past two years I have cut down on my fairly sensible drinking (which did occasionally include over indulgence), the reason being, is I know that AUD runs on both sides of my family, and I refuse to add that to the long list of other things I am battling.
Yes, in order for you to change things, you need to want to, but that is the same with anything in life. The problem is that a lot of people believe that the well known, available treatments out there are just not accessible to them, or don’t/won’t work for them. Rehab tends to cost a small fortune, abstinence only treatments have a low first time success rate (with treatments like AA having a God-centric core when not everyone believes in God). That’s not to say that these treatments don’t work for people, it’s been proven that they can and do, but they aren’t for everyone. And the options above aren’t the only ones. I wish that more health professionals would share The Sinclair Method (TSM) of treatment with people. I wish that society would stop viewing people with AUD as second class citizens, and that they could stop recoiling at the notion that TSM is a treatment that involves drinking in order to stop. Naltrexone or Nalmefene (Selincro) taken an hour before having a drink can reduce the amount that is drunk and stop the drinker from binging. TSM creates pharmacological extinction. In effect, it retrains the brain, stopping dependency, eliminating the craving. Some people go back to being social drinkers, others reduce the amount they drink, and others still go totally abstinent. And did I mention the 78% first time success rate?
TSM has saved the lives of people I am friends with, whom I hold dear to my heart. It is a viable and proven option that can be used in conjunction with other treatments such as therapy. This is a real medicinal approach to one of the most prevalent addictions worldwide. The problem is that it’s not often shared with the people who need it and that infuriates me.
No one chooses AUD or the health problems that come with it (both physical and psychological). No one willingly chooses to have that voice in their head that craving can produce which overpowers their own sense of right and wrong. The first drink you ever take is a choice. Choosing to have a single glass of with dinner is a choice. But it is not a choice when those occasional drinks become more frequent to the point where you crave alcohol constantly (or in some cases with regularity). It is not a choice to be believe that you’ve beaten the AUD and take one sip to find that it was there lurking in the background waiting for you to give in.
I don’t look at alcoholics and AUD in the same way I used to. Now I question why people aren’t being helped. I question the rights of treatment advocates to proclaim their treatment is the only one that works. There is no one way to treat AUD. What works for one doesn’t always work for others. Do I passionately believe that TSM is incredible with its success rates? Do I say a small prayer at night to thank Dr David Sinclair and Dr Roy Eskapa for their work with TSM? Am I an advocate for treatment that has saved the lives of people I love? Yes, yes, and yes! Do I believe TSM is the only treatment that should be on offer? No! I believe that people have the right, or should have the right to a treatment of their choice. I believe that people should be given every option available with information on each treatment to make an informed decision on what is right for them. I don’t believe that big pharmaceutical and rehab companies should hold a monopoly on treatment where they can charge through the nose. I don’t believe that doctors have the right to withhold treatment options because of personal/professional bias.
My friends, next time, before judging, I want you to ask yourself how quickly someone you love could find themselves with AUD. I want you to remember that the person in front of you is at the mercy of something that has taken control, that they may not know all of the options available to them and they may believe that those they do know about are out of their reach. Maybe they don’t know who to reach out to, even though they want to. It’s something I’ve trained myself to do over the past couple of years. And I’m not going to deny that I get annoyed by the inebriated people who pass my flat every weekend, creating a racket when I’m exhausted, but I’m trying to remember that they too may have AUD and not know they have options available.
It’s time that we as a society stopped treating those with AUD or any addiction as if they are something to be overlooked. They need our help and the only way to help is by educating first ourselves, and then others, so that when someone reaches out for help, there is someone who can point them in the right direction. I’ve left some links below this letter should you wish to learn more. Maybe, just maybe, you may find yourself in a position where you can help someone by passing on what you learn. And if you find any other links you think may be helpful, let me know in a comment and I’ll add them too.
|C Three Europe||C3 Foundation|
|Alcoholics Anonymous UK||Alcoholics Anonymous USA/Canada|