Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] The statistics are overwhelming.
Last year 2.5 million people in the United States alone were treated for this problem. Despite the fact that help is available, lives continue to be destroyed—families ruined.
40% of violent crimes are attributed to it and it doesn’t care what race you are—whether you’re young, old, rich or poor.
Over 3.3 million die from it each year. It already touches your coworkers; your neighborhood and chances are your personal life—your own family in some form.
In the European Union, more than 23 million are dependent on it. If you have it and ignore what you need to do, it will devastate you and your family and most likely kill you.
Alcohol abuse and alcoholism is a destructive force.
If you or a loved one has this unrelenting habit, there is good news! You can overcome and recover from the nightmare.
On this edition of Beyond Today it will help you and your family find hope and discover ways to recover from the challenge of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.
[Announcer] Join our host Steve Myers and his guests as they help you understand your future on Beyond Today !
[Steve] It’s easy to be in denial about alcohol. Heavy drinkers have a surprising capacity to fool themselves and justify their excess, in spite of the fact they are on a path to destruction.
It is so tragic when someone you care about is dealing with alcohol abuse or obvious alcoholism.
Now some may not think it’s that serious. They say, “my problem isn’t that bad.” But if you or someone you know is having difficulties in life as a result of alcohol; they are serious problem drinkers.
Now if this describes you, it’s going to take some courage, but I hope you’ll stay with me. Set denial aside for a moment—and you’ll see, there is real hope.
Now if you have reached the point where you are sick and tired of the pain—the hangovers, the job loss, the upset spouse, disappointed and resentful children, empty bank accounts, and court appearances—now is the time to recognize that heartbreak is taking its toll.
So if you’re at that point, drinking has long ceased to be fun.
You don’t want a moral lecture. You need a way out, and you need it now.
So if you can honestly admit to yourself that alcohol has become a problem in your life—then that door to recovery is starting to open.
So let’s open that door all the way! Then you can have real relief. You can start the process of actually rebuilding and restoring your life.
Now if it’s not you—but instead—maybe your spouse, your family member, your friend or your coworker that has that drinking problem that affects you—you too can find help and real support today.
Now first, let’s be clear about what chronic alcohol abuse and alcoholism are and what they are not. Too many people wrongly assume that alcoholism can be “cured” simply by putting down the bottle or somehow exercising more willpower.
Many who can have that drink normally, they often find it difficult to understand how life can be torn apart by continued heavy drinking. They wonder: “Why don’t they just stop?” You see in reality, overcoming alcoholism is complex and 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 several drug and alcohol programs. And he has worked for over 30 years in the mental health field as a program director and private practice therapist. We spoke about the stages of alcoholism.
[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 they’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] These are certainly troubling signs that drinking has taking over a person’s life. Yet having a drink is not automatically an evil thing. Some may be surprised that the Bible does not forbid or condemn moderate drinking. After all Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine at a big wedding celebration. And in fact, not just a little, but about 150 gallons! So obviously, He expected them not to overdrink but to drink in a moderate manner.
In fact, there are many biblical accounts that show that occasional and moderate consumption of wine and even strong drink is not evil and can even enhance special gatherings. Drinking alcohol is not sinful. So how much is moderate?
[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.
[Steve] Those that drink moderately and occasionally are quite different from the problem drinkers. These people drink for many different reasons.
[Dr. Fouch] 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, life begins to deteriorate. 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 could develop some health problems: high blood pressure, different characteristics that way. Oftentimes, it affects people’s 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 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, and usually other people can begin to see it. Maybe you can begin to see it.
[Steve] Drinking too much blurs the line between what’s right and what’s wrong. Problem drinking is condemned by the Bible—it’s what Scripture 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 it 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 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] We constantly face challenge because liquor is everywhere. Alcohol production and consumption is big business.
You ever watch a football or baseball game on television that didn’t have a beer commercial?
And don’t forget about our movie heroes.
A person who can “hold their liquor”—someone who can drink excessively without showing the effects—is wrongly thought of as a strong or cool. Now 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. Here’s what the scientists stated in the British Medical Journal:
“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 researchers pointed out, if James Bond were a real person and drank in the way he’s depicted, it would make him “a category 3 drinker—[now] that’s someone who drinks over 60 grams of alcohol per day and therefore in the highest risk group for malignancies, depression, hypertension, and cirrhosis.”
Did you know that just two glasses of wine, two shots, two beers a day can cause liver damage?
But TV shows, movies, books, they categorize this type of over-drinking as good—it’s desirable—even the behavior of choice! But in reality, that choice is condemned by the Bible.
“Drunkards”—those who regularly indulge in overdrinking—are labeled as “unrighteous” and “will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (1Corinthians 6:9-10).
You see, that’s a very serious eternal consequence for bad choices.
It’s a fight that God wants to see you succeed.
Abuse can come in many forms. Another type is binge drinking. It’s another major problem especially for young adults.
Now according to the World Health Organization: “The European Union is the heaviest-drinking region in the world, with over one fifth of the European population aged 15 years and above reporting heavy episodic drinking.”
[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 and do that on a regular basis. Drinking to get drunk, you know, 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—that’s the person who has truly lost control of his or her drinking and developed a measurable chemical dependency on alcohol.
Do you realize that 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. Now if you have a drinking problem today, it’s possible that you fall into this category.
Studies have shown that an alcoholic is incapable of “drinking normally.” They’re beyond that. Key centers of an alcoholic’s brain are literally “hijacked” when they start to consume alcohol. This loss of control can come from genetic or environmental issues.
[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.
[Steve] If you look up the definition on the Mayo Clinic’s website, it states: “Alcoholism is a chronic and often progressive disease.”
Now here’s something critical: The fact that alcoholism is defined as a disease doesn’t give the alcoholic an excuse to keep drinking. In fact, just the opposite. The Bible, the revealed Word of God, condemns drunkenness.
“Who has anguish? Who has sorrow? Who’s always fighting? Who’s always complaining? Who has unnecessary bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? It is the one who spends long hours in 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).
The Bible tells it like it is. There’s no covering up the impact of what too much alcohol can do to you. 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 in starting toward recovery and new life, it’s simple but it’s often profoundly difficult.
First: An alcoholic must admit that he or she has a major problem with drinking. Abusers will readily lie, and cheat and 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. You know, 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] Before breaking out of denial, it’s not unusual for an alcoholic to find themselves in a truly hopeless state. Sometimes an intervention, arranged through professionals can help reveal 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.” “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.
[Steve] Once crossing that first step—that hurdle of admitting to a drinking problem and beginning to cooperate with treatment—that’s when recovery can begin.
Next, with competent medical supervision and assistance, chemical withdrawal can safely be completed.
[Dr. Fouch] With alcoholism, 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] Once that withdrawal hurdle has been cleared, then the difficult work begins toward lifelong recovery. Many treatment choices exist for the recovering alcoholic to consider. But there is one option that has a high success rate and opens a critical door to a real solution that can truly produce lasting change: Alcoholics Anonymous.
AA meetings are regularly attended and supported by recovering alcoholics from all walks of life—because alcohol doesn’t care who you are, where you come from, or what you do.
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. Now you may ask, “Does God really 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] Asking God to help and submitting to Him begins the road to restoration. Now to achieve a lasting recovery without alcohol, an AA member is directed toward the 12 step program.
They recognize they need help from their “Higher Power.” The true God alone possesses the power to truly change them and free them from addiction. They place themselves in His care.
The remainder of the steps are directed at rebuilding relationships and making amends, and committing to spiritual growth and lifelong service.
Now AA is not perfect, nor does it claim to be, but 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 seemed to be unfixable can now be repaired. Even many family members are stunned 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.
[Steve] True recovery involves a spiritual process that focuses on reliance on God. He can reshape the character defects that contribute to the need for alcohol. With a true willingness to believe—commitment to God, that can turn your life around. Alcoholics Anonymous cites James 2:26—that “faith without works is dead.” Overcoming alcoholism will not only take God’s intervention, but also your spiritual commitment. Faith in action can change everything.
Many millions of people 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. Wine is associated with times of joy and feasting. Ecclesiastes says, “A feast is made for laughter, and wine makes merry” (10:19) So Scripture says it can gladden the heart—to be enjoyed without losing control and without becoming drunk.
But others drink to party. They drink with the intention of getting drunk. That type of over-drinking has serious consequences. Make no mistake; drinking in excess is sin. Proverbs reminds us that “Wine is a mocker, Strong drink is a brawler…whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Proverbs 20:1).
If you over drink and think you’re just having “fun,” think about what the Bible says: “How horrible it will be for those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are champions at mixing drinks” (Isaiah 5:22; GWT).
“Those who practice such things…” Those who specifically get drunk for pleasure, “will not inherit the Kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:21).
Those who let one drink lead to a life of problem drinking fall prey to serious consequences. It doesn’t matter how they began, they’re addicts now—drinking enormous amounts of alcohol just to somehow feel normal. Their thinking is muddled and deluded. They’re in serious trouble. And if that story continues to play out—a gruesome death likely awaits the untreated.
Now it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that these people have stood before a mirror—burdened with guilt, and have cried out to God. But it seemed God didn’t answer. You may relate to this.
But there is an answer—many people now safely and happily in recovery know there is a solution. It’s found in the book of James: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with the wrong motives…” (James 4:3; James 4:15; NIV).
Getting to the heart of our motivation—the reason why we do, what we do is especially significant. This is mirrored in Alcoholic’s Anonymous’ Step 11: “[We] sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God… praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
Here’s the key to recovery: Surrender your will to God—yield your life to a spiritual solution. God can lift you up. He can help you break the bonds of addiction and open a door to a new life!
Remember, the only solution to alcoholism is a spiritual solution. Isn’t it time to take advantage of the incredible spiritual power that’s available to you?
Today’s program has given much to think about regarding the disease of alcoholism. It not only ravages the body but also destroys relationships. Because it’s also a spiritual sickness, it keeps alcoholics from having a strong relationship with God and Jesus Christ.
If you or someone you know is suffering with the burden of alcohol addiction, I’d like to encourage you to order a copy of our free Bible study aid: Overcoming Alcoholism—There Is Hope! This valuable study aid can help you, a relative or a friend begin to break free and start living an abundant, alcohol-free life.
To request your personal copy of Overcoming Alcoholism—There Is Hope! call toll free: 1-888-886-8632. That’s 1-888-886-8632. Or go online at BeyondToday.tv or write to us at the address shown throughout the program [Beyond Today, PO Box 541027, Cincinnati, OH 45254].
And, when you order your study aid, we’ll also send you a free subscription to Beyond Today magazine. Each bi-monthly issue of Beyond Today is filled with practical articles to strengthen your family and help you better understand the Bible and what’s in store for your future.
To order our study aid Overcoming Alcoholism—There Is Hope! and your free subscription to Beyond Today magazine call: 1-888-886-8632. Or go online to BeyondToday.tv to read or download them.
It’s time to get rid of the pain and sorrow that comes from drinking too much alcohol. You or your loved one doesn’t have to continue in the aching distress of drink. God wants a different life for you—a better life. He wants the best life for you!
Now recovery isn’t automatic and it won’t happen overnight. It’s going to take time and effort. It’s going to take humility. It’s a battle and it will take a surrender—your surrender. Yielding yourself to the will of God. But that surrender can bring victory.
Don’t underestimate the power of our Creator. He loves you and He wants you to experience the incredible blessings of life—a life free from the bondage of alcohol.
If you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol abuse, get help now. God is ready, day or night. There is hope!
Now 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.