proyecto visión logo: a bilingual web site for latinos with disabilities
 sitio en español homeresourcesnewsopportunitiessuccess storiesabout us
Beating Alcoholism: A Colossal Battle


by Aura Hernández , Oklahoma City, OK

"To Rubén with all my faith."

The first time I met Rubén I was very impressed by his seemingly endless happiness. The next time I met him I noticed his personality was completely different. He was distant and taciturn. I came to discover that this man, who has refined manners, is handsome, cultured, and economically stable, is waging a colossal personal battle. It is a battle against himself, against his indiscriminate and habitual abuse of alcohol. Rubén may have a chemical or hormonal imbalance; or perhaps he has a psychological disability that makes it difficult for him to structure his life in accordance with his needs. Whatever causes his impulse to drink, Rubén is not alone.

Substance abuse & people with disabilities
Substance abuse is a problem that disproportionately affects people with disabilities. Researchers found there is a higher rate of consumption and risk associated for people with disabilities when compared to non-disabled individuals. One reason for this might be, I suggest, that many people with disabilities have lower levels of self-esteem, are may be more reluctant to participate in treatment plans that could help them overcome their dependency.
 
Regardless of if a person – with or without a disability – is a victim of substance abuse, the individual is responsible for their behavior and actions. However with alcohol or drugs, the consequences often affect more than simply an individual's behavior and actions. They can ruin the individual's health; have a negative impact on familial and social relationships; cause economic hardship or problems at work, in school. In the case of alcohol poisoning or drug overdoses, addiction might even cause an individual's death. 

I believe a person who acknowledges and embraces their disability as a part of their life is much more likely to triumph in their endeavors. I also feel that a person who escapes their reality by way of an addiction to any substance is depriving themselves of happiness. Almost any substance that one consumes in excess, or improperly, can cause serious addiction-related problems. For example, medicines that are not taken in the appropriate dosage can be habit forming. For this reason, many people become addicted to pain-killers and anti-anxiety drugs. Many medical professionals consider addiction an illness.

Addictions are difficult but not impossible to treat. Many people are able to beat addiction with the help of scientific and alternative methods. However, contrary to popular belief, for many people it is not enough to simply want to quit. Many times professional intervention from a medical doctor and/or psychiatrist is necessary for lasting recovery. In addition, many people are dealing with issues besides addiction such as psychological disorders, that also should be addressed during the rehabilitation process.

Supports for recovery
The initial step to break an addiction is for the person to acknowledge they have a problem. The individual also must recognize they are responsible for, and in control of, their will and behavior. Once a person decides to break an addiction they should take solid steps to reinforce the decision. The person may choose to seek out medical assistance for access to medication and other treatments to ease the negative effects of withdrawal. Others consult therapists or seek out the support of family and friends. It is important to start to build relationships with people who do not consume alcohol or drugs. At least until the individual's will is strong and resolute, they should try to avoid going to events or visiting with individuals who might encourage a relapse. Finally, filling up free time with healthy activities such as outdoor exercise or educational endeavors such as going to the theater, taking a class or reading more, are recommended.
  
Fortunately my friend Rubén has started to seek out professional help. I am happy to say he is taking steps toward recovery. With dedication, lots of support from his friends, family and community, and by maintaining a strong will, I hope to see Rubén smiling for good soon.

For information about drug/alcohol prevention, treatment or support groups contact:

Alcoholics Anonymous, http://www.alcoholics-anonymous.org; the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drugs, 800-729-6686, www.health.org; the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Hope Line, 800-475-HOPE or www.ncadd.org.