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Voice: Alcohol and drug addiction more destructive than terrorism

November 30, 2001

One of the greatest destructive forces in the world today — more destructive than any act of terrorism — is addiction, whether to alcoholic drinks or drugs.

Addiction to drugs or drink destroys all that is fine and noble in the alcoholic or addict, leaving something less than human.

The fatal flaw of the alcoholic or addict is an inner emptiness — and void — that no one can fill. This emptiness is the focus of the individual's attention. He or she can see only his or her own pain — not the pain and destruction that is being created for friends and family.

Families are destroyed by one person's addiction or alcoholism. Help is available, but unless the afflicted person seeks it, nothing can be done to help.

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I recently shared the heartache of a friend whose mate is sinking in the dark waves of alcoholism. I've had that same heartache, and had my life wrecked by it, when I was young. I know what it's like not to be able to save an alcoholic from self-destruction. No pain could be worse.

An alcoholic or a drug addict is like a terrorist in his or her own home — one never knows what to expect. Alcohol is a form of psychic abuse inflicted on the members of the alcoholic's family, as is drug addiction.

One with an alcoholic spouse suffers the agonies of hell, but the children are the worst victims. A child with an alcoholic or drug-addicted parent can be permanently traumatized.

Alcoholism or drug addiction can drag a family into poverty and ignominy.

Alcoholics Anonymous and Volunteers of America know how to fill that inner void — that strange mental turbulence — that drives one to drink or addiction.

Before either 12-step program can help, the alcoholic or drug addict must recognize his or her condition and want to be helped. No one else can do it for them.

I recently saw a friend lose her son to an overdose. His agony is ended; hers will go with her to the grave. Her son had been besieged by pleas to seek help before it was too late. He refused and so he died, bringing heartbreak to mother, sisters, wife and children.

Is any "High A" — any momentary escape from the void within — worth so high a price in pain?

MERRY HARRIS

El Centro

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