Alcoholics are supposed to want to drink. If they can’t stop, they just lack the will. At least, that’s what they say.

From a medical and biological point of view, however, this is gross nonsense. It’s as nonsensical as telling a rheumatic: “You’re just too lazy to exercise”.

It are complex, neurobiological metabolic processes that ultimately make you reach for the bottle again and again.

“You just wanted to get wasted.” This is not only wrong, but also unfair. Well, the layman who has nothing to do with alcoholism is only parroting a common prejudice and cannot know any better. However, when dry alcoholics hurl such insolence at newcomers, it becomes criminal. Whether they have had a relapse or are seeking help for the first time, depending on the time of day and their mood, they will hear the following, for example:

  • You wanted to drink
  • no one twisted your throat, the bottle just
  • You just haven’t sunk deep enough yet
  • you’re not deep enough in the shi…
  • Then you just have to keep on drinking until you get it.
  • Everyone is allowed to drink himself into the grave, it’s his decision.

The list is not complete. These recurring brazen platitudes are reminiscent of a broken record. In any case, it does not help the person concerned. But that is not the point of such malicious, supposedly dry commentators.

There are personality profiles, especially on Facebook, that only feel really good when they can smack the weaker ones. This tickles their ego, they suddenly become important and great – especially if they are also administrators of addiction groups and their claqueurs and groupies pat them on the back in the chat. But even if such online communities get by without such a busybody as an admin, there are always one or two very dominant members in such groups who absolutely have to piss on the leg of every desperate newcomer in a sharp jet.

Such characters are not concerned with helping others, they only use those seeking help to boost their own far too puny ego. For those who write like this are themselves grossly dissatisfied. Dry, perhaps, but – contrary to assurances elsewhere – certainly not satisfied. What inner satisfaction can one have if one sucks nectar from putting others down and down?

Yes, an addict (like an alcoholic) also needs very clear messages. No one has ever become sober or clean with uncritical butt-powdering. Because an addicted brain quickly constructs a free pass to the next drink from imprecise words. And of course, brain biochemistry run amok is no excuse, no absolution. Of course, one must always appeal to the minds of those affected.

But there is a big difference between clear statements and nasty hack kicks. The hairs on the back of my neck always stand up when I read such stupid accusations from supposedly “old hands” in forums.

I simply don’t understand how characters of more than questionable character can rise to the position of omniscient on the net, verbally bash those seeking help – and this still celebrated by their at least equally clueless claqueurs.

I have experienced many forum members over the years who really made a desperate impression on me. They were mowed down – and fell silent again.

They had finally taken the first, difficult, courageous step and sought help. And then they were terribly thrown out in front of their heads. I don’t want to know how many of them sank back into agony, discouraged, before they made another attempt to find help.

But even worse – and that’s the end of the joke for me – is that such an attitude can still be found today among so-called therapists and even in clinics. I coach alcoholics to quit and the stories I have heard make me shudder.

One client told me: “The whole thing is just designed to keep you down. You are supposed to feel guilty all the time. You are nobody and they are the all-knowing ones. I have often seen that even the staff in hospitals and rehabs like to lift you up too often. As an alcoholic, you have particularly fine antennae for this. Nevertheless, in the end you are just a small, weak-willed sausage. In my case, it only lasted a week or two after the clinic. Then I went back to drinking. I just felt miserable and weak. That’s what was drummed into me. Sometimes more, sometimes less.”

In my view, all therapists (whether doctors, psychotherapists or other therapists, nurses, carers, social pedagogues) who deal with addicts should be required to take an examination on the neurobiological changes in the brain of an addict. If they then still claim that it is “purely a matter of will to stop”, they should better take care of other sick people.

Unfortunately, loudmouthed speakers in internet forums can only be silenced by ignoring them – or by exposing their sometimes downright narcissistic traits. The advantage of this is that most of them are not particularly bright and are easy to fool argumentatively.

Gaby Guzek is the author of the book „Bye bye, booze!” and coaches people in quitting alcohol on the internet platform of the same name.

Image: wendy CORNIQUET / Pixabay

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