Whenever a headline tells about someone on their umteenth OWI, the general public sees someone they want to crucify. As the mother of her 26 year old daughter, Brittany Hallett, that died from alcohol addiction….Here’s what I see!
I see a society that promotes alcohol consumption at every single possible life event, from New Year’s Eve parties, to birthday parties, to any sport gathering whether it be live or at someone’s house, to even children’s birthday parties and to funerals. Everyone promotes on their social media account that drinking alcohol will make any event even happier and they also promote that alcohol will cure their anxiety and depression. Even after a long day with the little kids, parents should then kick back and unwind with a glass of wine or a beer. Really!!!!
Society promotes the notion that drinking alcohol is a choice and so most people then believe that they will always be in control of making that choice. They buy into the idea that they will be smart enough to not get hooked or addicted to alcohol, because they are too smart to let that happen. ALL alcoholics bought into that school of thinking before they one day realized that they could not fight the urge to drink anymore. By then it is simply too late.
No one would ever drink alcohol if they knew that they would become addicted to alcohol and spend the rest of their lives in agony being dependent on alcohol just to feel normal again….just to stop the sweats, vomiting, shaking and tremors. Suddenly, the person who used to crucify others for drinking too much and for driving while intoxicated, becomes the one they used to hate. They finally get it…..Sure, drinking alcohol is a choice, but that choice becomes tougher and tougher and the urge to drink becomes stronger than even self-preservation as the disease of alcoholism progresses.
Even social drinkers for many years can still become addicted to alcohol….and once addicted….ALWAYS addicted. But no one ever promotes that on their social media accounts. They never promote that 1 in 12 adults have a drinking problem in the US. They never promote that there are 88,000 alcohol-related deaths every single year in the US. They never promote that 90% of the people who are struggling to survive alcoholism don’t get the treatment they need….usually because of lack of insurance covering the long-term treatment needed or because the alcoholism makes it impossible to hold a job and be covered by any insurance at all. And even when they do qualify for coverage, often times they have to wait weeks for a bed to open up in an inpatient rehab facility. Even if they do get treatment, it usually is just a bandage when a tourniquet was needed to save their life. My own daughter needed long-term inpatient treatment that insurance would not cover. If she would have had cancer, she might have had a fighting chance.
Spewing out that drinking alcohol is always a choice…just promotes more to falsely believe that they will for sure be able to stop whenever they want. It only perpetuates the problem in our society.
So, the next time someone wants to crucify a person who is on their umteenth OWI, take a closer internal look at how we all contribute to this problem. Promote and support our lawmakers to help get more affordable treatment options for the millions of our fellow friends and family who are suffering every single day of their lives just trying to survive. Learn to recognize the signs of someone who is drinking out of control and instead of judging them, try to encourage them to get the help they need.
Obviously, we cannot tolerate having people drinking and driving….no one would ever advocate that. But fining them and throwing them in jail isn’t going to solve the problem. Make it mandatory that they get real treatment that will help them to get into real recovery. And tell our lawmakers to get more affordable treatment options available to people BEFORE they have an OWI. Because the next person that appears in the headlines just might be you or someone you love.