Wednesday: Another F*cking Alcoholism Post Because Why TF Not (Part I)

I’m trying out my “edgy please come click me” titles so if it’s NOT working for you, please leave me a COMMENT down below chastising me for being inappropriate and WACK AF! If you’re already over it, then let’s hang out, chit chat about alcoholism and reflect a little bit on our culture. Why? Because we’re f*cking nerds, that’s why! Deal with it!

For some reference, here is my first post about alcoholism on this blog that actually made it through my five rounds of editing on this blog Intersectional Feminism: Addiction & Discrimination: https://www.westindiancritic.com/blog/marijuana-alcohol-how-we-focus-on-one-substance-while-ignoring-the-other

Here is my other post, 1 year later about alcoholism and substance abuse:

(2016) Alcohol Addiction: Our Silent Public Health Emergency

I’ve written a bit more informally, but none of these posts made “the cut”, so suffice it to say, these two posts summarized my thoughts up until that point about alcohol addiction and alcohol abuse in general.

Today, I’ve decided to make my daily post about alcoholism because of a recent event in Saint Lucia, “Live N Colour”, an end of summer party marking the end of Carnival season for young people in Saint Lucia. One of our country’s most prominent newspapers, The Voice, tackled the issue of teenage drunkenness at the party, an issue which rose to prominent attention due to a viral photo of five or so teenagers passed out drunk and covered in powder in disturbing positions that made the teenagers in question look dead. The image rightfully raised cause for concern, however due to the fact that those teenagers were likely minors, I will not be sharing the photo here. You can view an article about the subject on The Voice website here.

While the seemingly annual occurrences of fatal car crashes related to youth consumption of alcohol have promoted various anti-alcohol abuse pledges, these public displays against excess intoxication seem to have been muffled by the louder voices of ongoing cultural practices, family culture, and repeated instances of Heineken billboards and Chairman’s Reserve billboards plastered across our country’s highways. While I just pointed out the cultural component to alcoholism, this isn’t to say that the country I’m currently in (the United States) is actually any better. Alcohol addiction is present and highly visible to me in both countries, even if of course, we do things differently in Saint Lucia. So do not think this is a “compare and contrast” kind of blog post.

I wanted to cover five subtopics here somewhat informally since again, this is my daily blog post and doesn’t require the rigor of hours of research and citations that I would publish along with my long form blogposts. Here are the five subtopics and I’ll move quickly through them so that you don’t get bored and decide to flame me for coercing you to read something longer than a tweet.

OK, are we ready?!

Common myths about alcoholism that crop up during publicized alcohol related incidents

Myth #1: The blame and responsibility for alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction lie solely in the hands of the alcoholic. Alcoholism and abuse are personal failings that reflect poor character.

Truth #1: I understand why it can be hard for people who have never struggled with alcohol abuse to understand that it is not a personal failing. Personally, I have no trouble turning down a drink and I rarely drink despite keeping a fully stocked liquor cabinet in full view right in my home. If you’re like this, you might see someone binge drinking and think that they just need to control their behavior. The truth is, alcohol abuse and addiction are rooted in many factors, not just personal choice. There’s a large genetic component to alcoholism which predisposes different people to alcohol abuse. Even if something may seem easy for you or me, this doesn’t mean it’s the case for everyone else.

When searching in recovery circles, I found this graphic that accurately depicts some of the different root causes of addiction and where they may lead if someone doesn’t turn to alcoholism. It’s not just a matter of mimicking behavior, but how people are predisposed to respond to their environments. Some people grow up with alcoholics and become alcoholics while some grow up around alcoholics and never touch a drink in their lives. This doesn’t mean however that these people are immune to codependency, overeating, or abusing another drug.

 
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Myth #2: Alcoholism isn’t a problem as long as you’re “high functioning”.

Truth #2: This one can be the most frustrating as it enables many intelligent alcoholics with severe issues related to their alcohol abuse to deny that their alcohol consumption is an issue. Many “high functioning” alcoholics hold down jobs and keep their lights on, enabling them to live in denial for years. Most of these alcoholics would be unable to appear “normal” without the people they surround themselves with covering up their addiction for them. While their friends and family suffer, they are able to maintain the façade that their drinking falls within normal limits. This quote from The Recovery Village outlines the issues many high-functioning alcoholics are covering up. I urge you to focus your attention on the bold and underlined section of this quote:

They ask friends or family to cover up for them. A high-functioning alcoholic might ask her husband to call in sick to work for her when she’s struggling with a hangover, or borrow money from a friend to pay bills when she’s spent too much on alcohol. In reality, high-functioning alcoholism is usually made possible through the enabling behavior of loved ones.

They restrict their drinking to specific times, situations, or beverages. You might hear a high-functioning alcoholic say, “I never drink on weeknights,” “I only drink at bars,” or “I only drink beer.” These self-imposed limitations might help the alcoholic convince himself that he is in control of his drinking when in fact, he often breaks his own rules.

They isolate themselves in their private time. High-functioning alcoholics may act sociable and outgoing at the office or at company parties. But when they’re not at work, they often prefer to spend their personal time drinking alone or at bars. They may even discourage their family from inviting guests to the house because they don’t want their drinking habits to be exposed.

They break personal commitments because of their drinking. A functional alcoholic may receive awards at work for meeting high-performance standards, while forgetting an important anniversary or missing a family celebration because he or she was drunk or hungover.

They secretly struggle with mental illness. Many high-functioning alcoholics use their substance abuse to mask psychological disorders like depression, social phobia, or an eating disorder. They may suffer from anxiety about their competency or their material security. When they’re not under the influence, they may be moody, withdrawn, tearful, or irritable. They might even talk about suicide or attempt to harm themselves. According to the National Institutes of Health, approximately 25 percent of functional alcoholics struggle with depression.

Functional alcoholics are often intelligent, hardworking, and well-educated. Their professional status or personal success can make it hard to approach them about having a “problem” with alcohol. However, it is impossible to continue drinking heavily for a long period of time without suffering the physical and psychological consequences of alcoholism, such as liver disease, heart disease, neurological damage, cancer, or depression.

Click here to read the full article.

Here is some more troubling information about high-functioning alcoholics from another website Blueprints For Recovery

People who are in denial about the harm of being a “high functioning” alcoholic often:

Joke frequently about alcohol addiction

Keep employment but not earn raises or promotions

Get arrested for driving under the influence (DUI)

Binge drink to “relax”

Forget conversations and activities that occurred while drinking

The clear trouble with “high functioning” alcoholics is that their addiction may not catch up to them for many years, but the long term effects of binge-drinking are not up for debate; they’re verifiable scientific facts. High-functioning alcoholics are likely to underreport their drinking as well due to remaining in a high stage of denial. Since around 20% of alcoholics are “high functioning”, this allows many to hide their trouble with alcohol abuse for years.

Myth #3: Some alcohol consumption is actually healthy.

Truth #3: Oh sweet summer child… Sadly, the facts just do not back up this commonly held misconception. The negative effects of alcohol consumption especially on a regular basis vastly outweigh the benefits. Additionally, alcoholics are likely to drink far more than “moderately” and far more frequently. They underreport their drinking yet rely on studies to validate their addiction that rely on alcohol consumers taking in the smallest doses — which they themselves are unlikely to consume. This article digs deeper into the myth regarding a glass of wine a day and was written by a physician. This article discusses common “big alcohol” myths regarding alcohol consumption and debunks every single one.

Reuters recently summarized a large 2018 study with this quote which more accurately portrays the effects of regular alcohol consumption:

Blood pressure and stroke risk rise steadily the more alcohol people drink, and previous claims that one or two drinks a day might protect against stroke are not true, according to the results of a major genetic study.

We believe a lot of horse shit about alcohol whether or not we are big drinkers. While education in and of itself will not necessarily stop an alcoholic from having their fifth pint of beer and calling it their second, it will certainly help those of us who want to learn more about alcoholism and alcohol consumption to contextualize their behavior and will help us to understand our deadly culture surrounding drinking.

Stay tuned for Part II of this post tomorrow! When I’m done with the series, they’ll all be linked and combined into one post.

Tuesday: Top 6 Better Ideas Than Paying Attention To Celebrity Activists

I so rarely build one post off of another, but today I’m treating you (and myself) to some ideas that have been weighing on me recently. I’ve never been one for celebrity activism as it has never quite seemed genuine to me. I didn’t grow up engaging with a lot of media in my early years so I didn’t form these early bonds and emotional attachments. I love Rihanna’s work for example but if someone wanted to cuss out Rihanna ‘til next Tuesday in front of me, I would remain completely unbothered and emotionally unaffected. So when I see celebrities who are detached from working class and middle class communities claiming to have all the answers, I feel rubbed the wrong way in particular.

In the Caribbean, going abroad for a year or two can tarnish you enough that any ideas you have for social equity are immediately branded as detached and “foreign ideas”. Yet celebrities who may have spent decades hoarding more wealth than most people will ever have in their entire lives feel completely qualified to pick random communities of people and tell them exactly what they should do.

The concept of a “Black community” in the United States strikes me as a little odd because from my experiences, Black communities in California and New York differ from Black communities in Atlanta or Washington D.C. There isn’t a monolithic solution for every Black community and while racial unity and unity of goals can be powerful — for example the “Black Lives Matter” movement — there’s a reason why that particular group of activists is diffused in terms of leadership and specific goals within different cities.

Grassroots activists recognize that there isn’t a one size fits all solution for the “Black community” in America. Celebrity activists on the other hand talk down to communities and preach at them. This has been happening since Bill Cosby preached to Black men about how sagging their pants was a direct cause of racism and it’s happening now with Jay-Z’s comments about “moving past kneeling”. Rather than expend my limited energy writing why these celebrities are wrong, let’s have a little think about what we can do instead to better our communities:

1) Spread awareness about local activist groups

In Saint Lucia, few people are aware of some of the most effective activist groups in our country. United & Strong, an organization for LGBT rights, and Raise Your Voice Saint Lucia, are two groups that many average people have not heard of even if they do great work directed at the appropriate level. These are examples from my environment, but every city and country has their own groups like this one. Take some time to research and then spread awareness by sharing posts, fundraisers, talking to your friends and family members about how different groups are helping your community.

2) Talk to people in need within your life/your community

Often times, we project what other people need based off of our own assumptions and beliefs. If we meet someone who can’t pay their rent, we assume they need a financial literacy app when in reality, they may tell us what they need: a job that pays better. Rather than making assumptions, we can have non-judgmental conversations with people we meet and discover what they feel their needs are.

3) Read news bulletins by community organizations to educate yourself on their needs

Community organizations often put out news bulletins discussing their ongoing projects, their future projects, and their financial needs for the future. You can also find out what organizations need from volunteers or donors. If you read news bulletins, tweets or public posts, you can come across valuable information about what different organizations actually need. Do they need coats for the homeless? Do they need period related hygiene products? Do they need volunteer hours? Doing this also builds the habit of not making assumptions that we know better than those we are trying to help. Privilege does not actually mean you are superior.

4) Study successful activists and community leaders of the past

Studying successful activists and community leaders from our present and past can also inspire ideas for how we can help our communities. I enjoy reading about the Black Panther Party’s free breakfast programs in the United States as well as reading biographies of various activists and community leaders. Rather than giving our attention to celebrities, we can direct our attention to folks who dedicated their lives and time to improving our communities. This doesn’t mean to never listen to music or watch movies, but when it comes to politics, let’s focus on those who made a real difference every day!

5) Create your own solutions to problems in your community

This point relates to my previous one. When you learn from the past, you shouldn’t just be content to memorize facts. Think about how you can apply these lessons to your lives. I know many Christian activists for example who participate in food drives and clothing drives for the homeless and impoverished in society. Every community can use some help and every person is capable of offering something according to their own needs and capabilities. Coming up with solutions to problems in your community and even in your household can be beneficial. For example, if you are producing a lot of food waste, you could start a compost heap. Ideas can be THAT simple. You don’t have to start a revolution to make a difference in your life or the lives of those around you.

6) Donate money or time to organizations that help people in your community

When in doubt for what to do, you can always donate your money or your time to organizations in your community. In Saint Lucia, the National Trust always needs help with beach clean ups. Typically grassroots organizations need money and they determine how best to put it to use. Every little bit that you do will count for something!

One of the troubling things about celebrity “activism” is that we hold two false beliefs. First, we assume that celebrities are superior to regular working class people and they’re blessed with some kind of special insight that we don’t have. Second, we believe that doing ‘more’ is about how much money someone gives specifically. Neither of these beliefs are true. Celebrities are not specially gifted with knowledge of communities where they don’t live. More money isn’t necessarily better if that money isn’t put to effective use. These ideas are designed to strip us of the realization of our individual power and give credence to the notion that more capital creates superior individuals. You can have so much more power in your community than you realize and make a real difference if you direct your energy in the right way. We may not have the power of wealth, but we have power in numbers, and that means a hell of a lot.

Thursday: Thoughts & Questions On Internet “Activism”

Why oh why did I create a new Twitter account? I used to go days and even weeks without a hint of awareness of “What Y’all Mad About Today” ™️. In an effort to spread the good word about my blog revival, I’ve been indoctrinated once again into the cult of Internet outrage, mad for the sake of mad, or the more delightful alternative — mad at everyone for being mad all the time.

Perhaps it’s a delusion that I fall into the latter category and not the first.

(Let me cook!)

Today I want to compile some thoughts about Internet activism, so buckle up. Comment down below which of these you think I could turn to long-form analytical blog posts please. 😊👇🏼

💖THURSDAY QUESTIONS💖

  • Why are sex & dating the primary fields of our lives where online activism is centered? And, why does class analysis not seem to apply? With regards to gender, race and sexuality, is it honest to say that sex/dating/relationships are where this oppression plays out the most?

  • Many daily arguments on social media can be easily solved by falling back on your culture’s specific etiquette and/or accepting others differences. I follow a lot of etiquette experts on social media and books on etiquette are $7.99 on Amazon. Stop arguing and realize the decisions have been made! If you don’t want to follow what is appropriate, it’s your right, but just know that the standard has been set.

  • Many leftist theoreticians warned against a cult of personality as being dangerous to progressive movements. Yet, it’s rare you hear people who make progressive posts and have a large following publicly acknowledge this. Personal branding — by definition capitalistic — becomes intertwined with activism and creates an unhealthy dynamic around interacting with progressive ideas and values.

  • Social media has many negative effects and currently, we aren’t sure how to cope with all of them since it’s all new. I can’t Help but wonder how our technology use might change to become healthier or less healthy over time. What do you think?

Getting back on social media has brought these questions to mind. What about you? What have you been thinking of lately? Leave a comment below .