The Coastal Post - August 1999

Alcohol Abuse: What Can We Do As A Community?

The abuse and misuse of alcohol in our community is a difficult issue to confront. At times our response may be to ignore that it is occurring, or find a rationalization for the behavior. We are often unsure what to say to a person we know who is obviously struggling with an addiction. More frequently we may say to ourselves, "Well, he/she must decide when to quit, there is nothing that I can do." That is true on one level, yet on another level it leads us towards apathy and indifference. The truth is that the person must decide to quit or at least begin with efforts towards stopping. This, however, is rarely possible on one's own. Support and encouragement are essential, as is compassion for those we know struggling with addictions. However, compassion does not imply passivity, rather it encourages us to more fully understand another human being's struggle.

In understanding another we begin to grasp what is important to each other. Health and well being are important to every human being and when these needs are not being met, one cannot live as fully as is possible. This is where members of a family or the community at large can enter in and encourage change. The truth is, people can be helped to find a fuller way of living. This is the area where we are called to action.

Help is available in our community through a variety of sources. There are AA meetings, drug and alcohol treatment centers such as West Marin Community Outreach, therapists, drug and alcohol counselors and support groups for those family members or loved ones who are struggling with the addicted person's behavior and its effect on them. These resources are out there and affordable.

One of the most difficult steps in finding treatment is the initial step of calling and asking for help. Because there are numerous ways people indicate they want help, I encourage everyone to learn how to recognize these requests, however subtle they may be. It is important to become better informed about the choices available for help and to find ways to present these topics in a caring and supportive way. These are the roles that we as community members and loved ones can play in the lives of those struggling with addictions. For any information or questions regarding resources and/or to set up an assessment interview for yourself or someone for whom you have concern, please call West Marin Community Outreach at 663-9441.

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