Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Alcoholism the family disease: It will never happen to me

I went into the Lift Bridge bookstore this afternoon, Sunday, April 19th, 2009, and there on the shelf is the 1981 book entitled "It Will Never Happen To Me" by Claudia Black which is a classic and pioneering book on Children Of Alcoholics. For $6.99 it is quite a bargain and so I bought it and decided to re-read it since I am rejuvenating my interest in Addiction as a family disease.

I recommend the book to you and if you have a copy or will buy a copy we can discuss it here on the GCASA Cares blog. I will be tagging these posts, Claudia Black, and I will post a series of reflections on her writing in this book. I hope that you will join in the conversation.

Claudia writes in the introduction: "Only 3 to 5 percent of the alcoholic people in the U.S, are represented by the stereotyped Skid Row drinker. The so-called average alcoholic is a man or woman with family, job, and responsibilities."

Dr. Black already pointed out that one out or six families in the United States is affected by alcoholism and I think this is a very conservative estimate.

GCASA's data from Genesee and Orleans counties finds that about 30% of 12th graders report that they have binge drank (5 drinks or more on a single occasion) in the last 2 weeks. My question has always been where are these kids getting this kind of alcohol and where are they drinking it. The answer which research has found is at home.

Alcoholism is a family disease and in 60% of people in treatment at GCASA say that they come from families where alcohol was a problem as they were growing up.

Most of GCASA's prevention programs focus on young people, but I am increasingly convinced that the young people would not be manifesting anywhere near the dysfunctional symptoms they are were it not for the problems in their families.

Drinking is glamorized in our culture and is constantly advertised to us as the way to enjoy life. It doesn't take much intelligence to deconstruct these ads and see the perverse messages they send to adults and young people that the way to enjoy the good life is to drink. Parents rarely object to these insidious messages while they are quickly outraged by sexual and violent material.

As the title of Claudia Black's title suggests, those of us who are somewhat aware of these pernicious and damaging cultural memes, we reasure ourselves that "It will never happen to me" and all to often find ourselves caught up in addiction either ourselves or marrying someone who becomes addicted or has a family history of the disease.

The most recent Budweiser ad campaign promises that its beer has "drinkability". Can you tell me what that is? What is that to your children? How many of these commercials have they seen. Have you discussed what "drinkability" means to them?

1 comment:

lricci said...

Yesterday I was teaching in Elba and one of my students had brought up hops and beer. One of the only ways I can imagine a child of 10 years knowing that much would be from the advertisements for Sam Adams or Budweiser. He went so far as to tell me that one beer has three different hops in it! I think the media has a huge influence on what pre-teens and teenagers think is the norm or what other teens are doing.