Beyond Today — Overcoming Alcoholism: There Is Hope!
[Steve] It’s an elephant in the world’s living room. Over million die from it each year. More than 6 million Americans are directly affected by it or experiencing it right now. Despite the fact that help is available – lives are destroyed – families ruined. It doesn’t care whether you’re rich, famous or not, young or old. Chances are it already touches your life, your family, your career in some form. If you have it and ignore what you need to do, most likely it will either kill you or devastate your life and your family.
What is this destructive force? Alcohol abuse and alcoholism. If you woke up today with fallout from an unrelenting habit, the good news is: You can overcome and recover from the nightmare. Stay tuned to Beyond Today as we find hope and learn how to recover from the challenge of chronic alcohol abuse and alcoholism. There is hope! [Announcer] Join Steve Myers and his guests, as they help you understand your future, on Beyond Today! [Steve] You may not want to hear about today’s topic.
Alcohol can be an uncomfortable subject. It’s easy to be in denial. Heavy drinkers have a remarkable ability to deceive themselves and justify their excess, even though they’re on a path to destruction. It’s tragic when a person, a family, even a company is faced with chronic alcohol abuse or outright alcoholism. Now if this describes you, it will take a bit of courage, but I invite you to stay with me. Set denial aside for a moment – and you’ll see, there is real hope. Now if you have a drinking problem and are still watching, that’s a good sign. Have you reached the point where you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? Hangovers, job loss, upset spouses, disappointed and resentful children, empty bank accounts, court appearances – all take their toll. Now if you’re at that point, drinking has long ceased to be fun. You don’t need a moral lecture.
You need a way out, and you need it now. If you can honestly admit to yourself that alcohol has become a problem in your life – then the door to recovery is starting to open. So let’s open that door all the way! Then you can have real relief. Then you can start rebuilding and restoring your life with power. Now if it’s not you, but if it’s your spouse, your family member, your friend or coworker that has a drinking problem that affects you – you too can find help and support today.
First, let’s be clear about what chronic alcohol abuse and alcoholism are and what they are not. Now, too many people wrongly assume that alcoholism can be “cured” somehow by exercising “willpower” or simply putting down the bottle. People who can drink normally often shake their heads at a life torn apart by continued heavy drinking. They wonder: “Why don’t they just stop?” But in reality, overcoming alcoholism is a complex thing. It represents a tough battle for most. To get some perspective, I interviewed Dr. Roy Fouch. Dr. Fouch has worked in the addictions field for over 20 years. He’s been a clinical director for three drug and alcohol programs. And has worked for over 30 years in the mental health field as a program director and as a private practice therapist. [Dr. Fouch] Well, there are four primary characteristics of alcoholism.
One is craving where an individual has to have a drink. It’s what they think about, as soon as they get up and it’s on their mind all the time. Then you have loss of control. This is where an individual, you know, can’t stop drinking. Now, he may on occasion but typically there’ll be situations where one drink leads to another, and they just keep drinking and drinking. The next stage would be physical dependency. This is where the individual cannot physically get by without a drink, without having some pretty uncomfortable symptoms. And then the fourth stage would be tolerance, and tolerance basically means that the person needs to keep drinking more and more in order to get the same effect. [Steve] Some may be surprised that the Bible doesn’t forbid or condemn moderate drinking.
After all, Jesus’ first miracle was turning water to wine at a big wedding celebration. Not just a little, but about 150 gallons! He didn’t expect them to over drink but to drink in a moderate manner. In fact, there are many biblical accounts that show that occasional and moderate consumption of wine, beer and even strong drink is not an evil thing. It can even enhance a special gathering. [Dr. Fouch] The general feeling about it – in the professional sense – is one to two drinks for men is considered moderate drinking.
For women it’s a little bit less, but there are actually people who can’t even drink a half a drink or a fourth of a drink. You have individuals who use alcohol to cope with emotional states, that some people drink because they’re depressed, which is interesting because alcohol’s a depressant, but sometimes when you drink the alcohol, at least while you’re drinking it, you may feel better. People drink because they’re anxious, have social anxiety, feel like they can talk more if they’re drinking. And while they may feel better while they’re drinking, after they drink they feel much worse. So, it creates a dependency in that sense. [Steve] Done often and in excess, a person becomes vulnerable to make serious, life-destructive mistakes – mistakes that in a sober state wouldn’t even be considered.
[Dr. Fouch] Alcohol begins to affect certain areas of your life. For some people it could be they’re driving while they’re drinking and they get some legal ramifications. You know, you could develop some health problems: high blood pressure, different characteristics that way. Often times it affects peoples’ relationships. It can affect marriages. It can affect how one relates to one’s children. And so, a lot of times people that you’re closest to will start commenting upon, “Hey, I think you’re drinking too much,” or “You were yelling at the kids,” or “I don’t like it when you drink. You don’t seem to have the same kind of judgment about things. You don’t treat me as well,” and so people start getting feedback. But it starts affecting some area of one’s life. [Steve] It’s not too difficult to see that drinking too much impairs the mind and blurs the line between what’s biblically right and wrong.
This kind of drinking is condemned by the Bible. Making that wrong choice or even passively permitting others to over drink, is what the Bible describes as “sin.” [Dr. Fouch] Being drunk is not a good thing. The Bible tells us that it’s not. Being a drunkard is someone who has a pattern of getting drunk over and over again, not necessarily every day, but just could be once a week, could be once a month, something like that. [Steve] So God doesn’t hedge on this. He says being a drunkard, getting drunk is a sin. [Dr. Fouch] Right, whether you do it one time or you do it multiple times. [Steve] The Bible in a way equates being a drunkard with being an alcoholic in one sense, but then there’s also the topic of getting drunk. So if I only do this once in a while, I think some think, “Well, what’s the big deal?” [Dr. Fouch] Well, what’s the big deal if I lie once in a while? It’s still a sin. So God would expect us to develop a pattern of not getting drunk. [Steve] So even in that case, that’s a sin as well? [Dr.
Fouch] That’s the way, I think the Bible is pretty clear about that. [Steve] Alcohol consumption and production is a big business. The alcohol industry generates more than $400 billion in the United States alone. Entertainment and advertising promote consuming alcohol to excess. You ever watch a football or baseball game on television that didn’t have a beer commercial? What about our movie heroes? A person who can “hold their liquor” – someone who can drink excessively without showing the effects – is often wrongly thought of as a strong, “cool” person.
Does that description bring anyone to mind? > The name is Bond. James Bond. [Steve] Recently three British medical scientists conducted a study on the fictional spy character, James Bond. In a recent issue of the British Medical Journal these scientists stated: “In the entertainment world… excess alcohol consumption is often portrayed in a positive, even glamorous, light. Of particular note are the drinking habits of James Bond, the quintessential British spy.” But, as the scientists pointed out, if James Bond was a real person and drank in the way he’s depicted, it would make him “a category 3 drinker (drinking over 60 grams of alcohol per day) and therefore in the highest risk group for malignancies, depression, hypertension, and cirrhosis.” How do television, books, movies characterize this type of over-drinking? Well, it’s good, they say.
Desirable, the behavior of choice! But in reality, it represents a choice that is condemned by the Bible. “Drunkards” – those who regularly indulge in overdrinking – are labeled as “unrighteous” and “will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” It says that in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10. Now that’s a very serious eternal consequence for bad choices. So as the Bible warns us, we must be on guard from the negative influences of society. Satan’s influence is very hard to overcome and he wants to see you fail. But God wants to see you succeed. We’ve prepared a study aid to help you move closer to God and overcome an alcohol addiction. This special BT Digest – Overcoming Alcoholism – will take you on an in-depth study, providing you with the critical information you need to succeed. You can receive your free copy of Overcoming Alcoholism: There is Hope, by calling: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. If you request it right now, you can have this limited-edition, full-color booklet in print at no cost at all. If you live outside of North America, please write us at the address shown on your screen throughout the program for your free copy of Overcoming Alcoholism: There is Hope [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
Now if you, or someone you care about has a problem, go online at BeyondToday.tv where you can read or download: Overcoming Alcoholism. Or call us free: 1-888-886-8632 to receive our free study aid to help begin the recovery process. Binge drinking is another major problem. Students who are bored or others who have to party are seen as “fun loving” and often binge drink. I spoke with Dr. Roy Fouch about this trend: [Dr. Fouch] Binge drinking is another aspect of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking is usually defined as someone who drinks a lot in a short period of time, like five drinks in two hours if they do that on a regular basis.
Drinking to get drunk, those kinds of things. [Steve] And It might be one of those things that’s just a party once a month or once a week or something like that where it doesn’t necessarily have to be an everyday kind of thing. [Dr. Fouch] Right. [Steve] Would that fit into that idea of what abusing alcohol is all about? [Dr. Fouch] Yes. [Steve] No doubt binging is a major problem – but no less, is the clinical alcoholic – the person who has truly lost control of his or her drinking and developed a measurable chemical dependency on alcohol. Research has shown that complex genetic factors can produce a condition where it’s impossible for many millions of people to ever drink safely. They’re literally on their way to becoming an alcoholic with their very first drink.
If you have a drinking problem today, it’s possible that you fall into this category. Did you know that an alcoholic is incapable of drinking normally? They’re beyond that. Key factors of an alcoholic’s brain are literally “hijacked” when they start to consume alcohol. This loss of control can come from genetic or even environmental factors. [Dr. Fouch] We have found that people have a predisposition for alcoholism or addictions, that if there’s alcoholism in one’s family that one is more prone to it. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be an alcoholic, but if you were an individual who abused alcohol it would be more likely that you would develop alcohol dependency later in life.
The Mayo Clinic’s definition expresses this as well: “Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease that includes problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, having to drink more to get the same effect (physical dependence), or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. If you have alcoholism, you can’t consistently predict how much you’ll drink, how long you’ll drink, or what consequences will occur from your drinking.” The fact that alcoholism is defined as a disease doesn’t give the alcoholic an excuse to keep drinking. In fact, it’s just the opposite. The Bible, the revealed Word of God, condemns drunkenness. Listen to this: “Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who is always fighting? Who is always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours [at] the taverns, trying out new drinks. Don’t gaze at the wine, seeing how red it is, how it sparkles in the cup, how smoothly it goes down. For in the end it bites like a poisonous snake; it stings like a viper.
You will see hallucinations and you will say crazy things. You will stagger like a sailor tossed at sea, clinging to a swaying mast. And you will say, ‘They hit me, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t even know it when they beat me up. When will I wake up so I can look for another drink?'” (Proverbs 23:29-35, NLT). At the same time, the Bible doesn’t condemn a person who has hit bottom and is now actively trying to find a way out and recover. The critical issue is starting toward recovery and new life. It sounds simple but its often profoundly difficult. First: An alcoholic must admit that he or she has a major problem with drinking. Abusers will readily lie, cheat, steal to make sure there’s plenty of alcohol available, even if it hurts themselves, their families and their careers. To recover, they have to break the deadly practice of denial.
[Dr. Fouch] Denial is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome. Sometimes people will say, “Well you know, I’m so stressed. I just need something to kind of relax me.” And so I would say, “Well, why don’t you work on some stress management kinds of things?” Sometimes it is a matter of an emotional state that that person has like a form of depression or anxiety. In that case you want to get at the root of that problem. So what you try to do is try to deal with the source of the problem. Why does the person have the need to continue drinking? And then you look at some ways of addressing those issues.
So counseling or medication, you know, might help with some of those things that we mentioned. [Steve] Sometimes an intervention can be arranged through professionals to show the seriousness of the alcoholic’s condition. [Dr. Fouch] You confront them on a one-to-one basis, and the other thing that you can do, you can bring other family members and friends in, commonly called an intervention where you have a group of people come together and everybody sits down and they kind of say, “Look, we’re concerned. It’s affecting my trust. It’s affecting our relationship.” And, “It’s affecting my ability to connect with you intimately on an emotional level,” if it’s a spouse.
And so, it’s harder to deny something when you have so many people that are saying the same thing. Typically, you need a medical intervention. So people have to go, typically into a hospital in order to be detoxed off the alcohol, which takes about three to four days. Without that detox a person can go into convulsions and really, die from it. [Steve] Many treatment choices exist for the recovering alcoholic to consider. But there is one option that has a high success rate and opens a crucial door to the real power that can truly produce lasting change: That is Alcoholics Anonymous. Often referred to as simply AA. AA meetings are regularly attended and supported by recovering alcoholics from all walks of life – because alcohol doesn’t care who you are: engineers, students, accountants, priests, housewives, lawyers, teenagers, surgeons, ministers, retirees and so many more.
Now here’s a critical point: Alcoholics Anonymous recognizes that alcoholism has its roots in a defective spiritual condition. AA recognizes that God – often called a member’s “Higher Power” – is the only force with enough power to restore an alcoholic to sanity. So does God provide help for alcoholics? [Dr. Fouch] Well, God can help us with any sin that we have, and so, you know, over-drinking, alcoholism, you know, these – although alcoholism as I said before after a while becomes a psychological dependency.
But it’s going to take God’s help, His intervention and Jesus Christ’s intervention to help us overcome what has gotten out of control in our life. And so, that’s the first step. And actually in Alcoholics Anonymous and related groups, the idea is, you admit you have a problem, and then you go to God and you ask Him to help you with the problem. [Steve] An AA member is directed toward the well-known 12 step program . They acknowledge their “Higher Power” – as they understand God – recognizing that God alone possesses the power to truly change them and free them from the addiction. They place themselves in His care and then embark on what is called a “fearless moral inventory.” The remainder of the steps is directed at rebuilding relationships and making amends, and then committing to spiritual growth and lifelong service. While AA is not perfect, nor does it claim to be, its 12 steps are biblically sound.
Once a new and powerful relationship with Almighty God is established, God can literally begin to work miracles. What seems to be unfixable now, can be repaired. Even many family members are shocked at the transformation of the former active alcoholic. [Dr. Fouch] I really think the 12-step process particularly from a Christian standpoint can be very, very beneficial because it addresses a lot of different aspects of recovery. Admitting that you have a problem, going to God with the problem, identifying some of the factors that have contributed to it, and taking a look at the people that you’ve hurt, and begin to make amends for those things.
And then as you go through the process of doing your personal inventory and making amends for people that you’ve hurt, then you can begin to be the person who can be of help to other people. This spiritual process focuses on relying on God to take away the character defects that contribute to the need for alcohol – and a willingness to believe. Alcoholics Anonymous quotes James 2:26, that “faith without works is dead.” Overcoming alcoholism will not only take God’s intervention, but also your spiritual commitment. We’d like to offer help with our study aid, Overcoming Alcoholism. It provides details about physical addiction to alcohol, and useful information about how to use spiritual tools to harness the power of God to overcome. Now when you request Overcoming Alcoholism, we’ll also send you your free subscription to our magazine, The Good News.
Itwill help you sort through the misleading influences of our culture, and provide you with understanding, hope and encouragement. So, be sure to call us now – toll free at: 1-888-886-8632. You can also read Overcoming Alcoholism and The Good News online at BeyondToday.tv. Many millions of people can take alcohol or they can leave it – they can drink normally, enjoying an occasional glass of wine, or a drink with a meal or on a special occasion. That type of drinking is certainly permitted by the Bible. But others drink to party. They drink with the intention of getting drunk. That type of over-drinking can have serious consequences. Make no mistake; drinking in excess is sin. “How horrible it will be for those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are champions at mixing drinks” (Isaiah 5:22, GW). Those who specifically get drunk for pleasure, “those who practice such things,” the Bible says, “will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21). There are also those who are suffering from chemical dependency. They’ve fallen prey to a real medically defined disease. However they began, they’re addicts now – drinking vast amounts of alcohol daily just to somehow feel normal.
Their thinking has been muted and deluded, and they’re in serious trouble. If the story plays out, a gruesome death likely awaits the untreated. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, that these people have stood before a mirror – burdened with guilt, and they have cried out to God. But God didn’t seem to answer. You may relate to this. But there is an answer – as many people now safely and happily in recovery well know. It’s found in the book of James: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives… instead, you ought to say, ‘If it is the Lord’s will, we will do this or that'” (James 4:3, 15, NIV). Surrendering your will to God – and yielding to a spiritual solution, will lift you up, break the bonds of addiction, and open the door to a new life! The only solution to alcoholism is a spiritual solution. Isn’t it time to take advantage of the incredible spiritual power that is available to you? I hope you’ll learn more about this critical subject by ordering your free Bible study guide Overcoming Alcoholism and your free subscription to The Good News.
Call us toll free: 1-888 -886-8632. Or, you can read both online at BeyondToday.tv. Go to BeyondToday.tv. Click on the “Contact” tab to find a congregation near you. Call one of our pastors – share your story with them. Help is not far away. We’re looking forward to hearing from you. Isn’t it time to get rid of the pain and sorrow that comes from drinking too much alcohol? God’s Word is plain – He wants the best for you. He loves you. He wants you to experience the incredible blessings of life – a life free from the bondage of alcohol. Now recovery won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take some work. It will take humility. And it takes surrendering yourself to the will of God. But it can be done. Why not choose to be the next miracle that God performs? I hope you’ll deeply think about it. If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol abuse, get help now. God is ready, day or night. There is hope! Don’t forget our free offers today. Thanks for joining us, and be sure to tell your family and friends about Beyond Today.
Tune in again next week and join us in praying, “Thy Kingdom come.” For Beyond Today, I’m Steve Myers. Thanks for watching. [Announcer] For the free literature offered on today’s program, go online to BeyondToday.tv. Please join us again next week on Beyond Today!.
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