Proposal for Section,
The University of Utah
School on Alcoholism and Other Drug Dependencies
Section tentatively entitled, Early Identification of Alcoholism or,
Identification of Early-Stage Alcoholism
Statement of need for proposed Section
There are an estimated 15 to 30 million alcoholics in the United States. Many more millions are believed to be addicted to other drugs, both legal pharmaceuticals and illegal street drugs. Of these addicts, very few are in recovery. According to alcohol addiction expert Dr. LeClair Bissel, only 10% of alcoholics ever enter into effective treatment programs, and very few are successful at staying sober, despite all the study, research and money poured into medical research. The members of the PrevenTragedy Foundation believe that one reason for this is the lack of understanding by the significant other of the addicts need to experience pain from consequences, which is essential in order to motivate the addict to seek and stay in recovery. Other reasons why the public comprehends so little about addiction include:
- The experts are using a definition of alcoholism that focuses on loss of control over use, rather than loss of control over behaviors.
- The experts waffle over issues of biochemistry vs. environment as the root cause of alcoholism.
- Society equivocates over the imposition of responsibility and pain from consequences of misbehaviors.
- Many therapists misdiagnose alcoholics as having Personality Disorders, not only because of a lack of understanding of alcoholism, but also because insurers are more likely to pay for such diagnoses.
- Society, educational institutions and law enforcers concentrate on the drug rather than the person on the drug, as well as prevention rather than early intervention.
- Historians, journalists and biographers fail to include anything on the role that alcoholism plays in many of the lives and events about which they write.
- The experts have never conveyed to the public that alcoholism is usually the cause of misbehaviors, rather than the other way around.
- The Foundation is of the opinion that most addicts are never even recognized as such, since hardly anyone is identifying early-stage alcoholics. We believe that the chemical dependency community can play a major role in re-educating the public, medical community and law enforcers on this crucial issue.
Scope of the Problem
The average age at which people in the United States engage in their first drinking episode is estimated to be 13. The typical alcoholic in recovery tells us he or she triggered alcoholism during that episode. Given the numbers above, one could easily deduce that there is at least a 10% or so probability that a person over the age of 12 is afflicted with alcohol or other drug addiction (alcoholism). Given the fact that 85% of adult alcoholics and 70% of adult illegal drug addicts hold steady jobs, many of these would be viewed as functional. Since even functional alcoholics engage in poor behaviors at least occasionally, 10% is not an inconsequential number. According to recovering alcoholics, every addict adversely affects three or four people, at least one in a potentially lethal way. Therefore, the Foundation believes that at any point in time, 40-50% of the population (including the addict himself) is being negatively affected by at least one addict, with 20% (10% addict and 10% addict-affected) seriously so. Furthermore, many non-addicts exhibit some of the behavioral patterns of addiction that can, in turn, adversely affect themselves and others.
All of us have heard of or know people whose families have been devastated by the death of a loved one because of accidents caused by drunk drivers or others under the influence in the home and work place. While only a relative few alcoholics commit criminal acts, we believe that most misbehaviors, including all manner of criminal and unethical conduct, are rooted in alcoholism. The psychological effects of rape, embezzlement, theft, betrayal and dishonesty can be devastating. Practically everyone is eventually affected by the psychological, financial and sometimes physical abuse perpetrated by practicing alcoholics, some several times over the course of their lives. The need for cutting edge ideas on identifying early-stage alcoholism and the dissemination of such ideas, with the goal of preventing tragedy, is compelling.
Session 1: 3 hours
Introduction: Differential Biochemistry in Early-Stage vs. Latter-Stage Alcoholics and Non-Alcoholics
- Differences in bio-chemistry leads to disparate behavior patterns. This session will explain why this occurs. Description and discussion of the differences in early-stage behaviors (God-complex and a sense of invincibility) vs. middle-to-latter stage behaviors (poor judgment and signs of apparent mental confusion).
Session 2: 3 hours
Reasons for Early Identification
- Without identification, there can be no intervention. Examples of famous people in whom alcoholism could have been obvious and for whom intervention might have prevented tragedy. Discussion of same for the not-so-famous.
Session 3: 3 hours
Public, Historical and Biographical Examples of Early-Stage Behaviors Indicative of Alcoholism
- Taking examples from history and current events, behaviors will be shown to exist long before anyone suspected. Theories as to why some alcoholics can remain in early-stage alcoholism for extended periods will be presented, especially the role of successful ego-inflation.
Session 4: 2 hours
How to Intervene and Impose Consequences in the Early Stages
- Setting up crises not only can lead to an early intervention, but can also be more effective than waiting for crises to occur on their own. Historical examples of such interventions, along with a discussion of personal and public policy suggestions
Session 5: 3 hours
Styles of Addiction: Type and Temperament (Colors
- The reason styles of alcoholism vary so greatly is related to circumstances, environment, and Myers-Briggs type and Keirseyan Temperament. The role of Type in diagnosing and treating addiction, along with Personality Disorders that addicts of various Types are often misdiagnosed as having.
Session 6: 6 hours
Alcoholism Portrayed in the Movies
- How the motion pictures have informed and misinformed the public, with snippets (five to twenty minutes) from as many as 20 movies, plus discussion of each. An analysis of the greatest alcoholic movies ever, which have never been identified as such.
Session 7: 1 _ hours
Styles of Addiction: Occupational Choice
- Occupational choice of young addicts as a function of upbringing, environment, circumstances and Psychological Type and Temperament. A discussion of occupations that allow for successful ego-inflation as a function of Type.
Session 8: _ hour