Alcoholics as Outlaws
People who drink to much often break laws and some are arrested for breaking laws and convicted of crimes. They often become outlaws. The most dysfunctional alcoholics begin with character flaws and antisocial tendencies; their drinking exacerbates existing problems. Some very nice, smart and honest people, however, become increasingly sociopathic as their drinking damages their body, mind and relationships with others.
Alcoholics often have encounters with police that lead to arrest and conviction for crimes committed. Some of the arrests are for minor felonies. Other arrests are for major crimes such as drunk driving or assault. Drinking alcohol disables the brain and introduces a temporary dementia that impairs all cognitive processes, judgment and concern for others.
As alcoholics become more dysfunctional, they resort to deception, lies and dishonest methods of maintaining their social credibility, earning an income, and avoiding detection by family, friends and employers.
As drinking and driving laws become stricter, more careless drinkers are arrested. With repeated offenses, more drinkers face heavy fines, suspension of driver’s license, criminal charges and jail terms. Drunk drivers who crash into cars carrying sober, innocent people are guilty of a major crime and punishment in many jurisdictions is becoming more severe as citizens demand protection from the drunk driver. Some claim that drunk drivers are terrorists. Drunk drivers can mame and kill innocent people senselessly, without provocation. Some lawmakers demand severe punishment for the crimes committed while intoxicated.
The consensus is that alcoholism is gigantic societal problem that is largely unsolved. You could argue that control of alcoholic beverage distribution is an excellent public health measure. Tougher drinking and driving laws have reduced traffic deaths and sent the worst offenders into treatment programs and/or jail. Few alcoholics volunteer to enter treatment programs; most have to be persuaded over time or compelled to seek treatment by spouses, employers and judges. Some physicians like to believe they have some good results with highly motivated patients. Most alcoholics enter the medical system through emergency rooms and there is little evidence that they receive effective after care that resolves their drinking problem.
According to Stephen To: “Almost 19 million Americans require treatment for an "alcohol problem"; however, only 2.4 million have been diagnosed… Denial or refusal to admit severity and fear of social embarrassment were the top 2 reasons for not seeking help. The majority of the general population believes that alcoholism is caused by moral weakness.”
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) offers social commitment and support. AA is most successful way for a revering alcoholic to obtain help. AA membership is over 1 million in the United States and over 2 million worldwide.
Research supports AA’s success maintaining abstinence-based recovery from alcoholism. AA does not depend on profession supervision or input and physicians are generally ignorant of its methods. The following study results summarize the opinions of physicians and alcoholics in recovery about the obstacle to seeking help. Both groups rated denial as the major obstacle.