Friday, June 15, 2007

Have You Heard The One About....?

Most all of us have been abused by a "joke" beginning with "Have you heard the one about two_____who entered a bar and ...?" An informal survey of Google humor would show hundreds of jokes about drinking and drunkenness. The use of alcohol is no laughing matter, especially when it is linked with bipolar disorder and unipolar depression.

Just in the general population, those who follow such trends know that alcohol use is directly related to 40% of all violent crimes, 40% of fatal traffic accidents, 75% of spousal abuse cases, and just about every criminal activity and accidental death imaginable. You don't have to be a "good" Christian to oppose the use of alcohol. Not even a thinking and responsible citizen would encourage its use.

I could tell you personal stories about my drinking and subsequent behavior that would scorch the hair off of your head. Most all of my shameful memories are linked to drinking. Up until I became a Christian at the age of 27, alcohol ruled my life. I had been a heavy drinker since the age of fifteen. It was at that time that I started having serious problems with manic behavior and depression. Mental health professionals would not find that to be surprising at all. They know that symptoms of bipolar disorder frequently emerge during periods of chronic drinking or during withdrawal.

People with bipolar disorder are five times more likely to develop alcohol dependence than the rest of the population. Comorbid bipolar disorder and alcohol use is commonly associated with poor medication compliance, heightened severity of bipolar symptoms and poor treatment outcomes.

There is evidence of familial transmission of both alcohol abuse and bipolar disorder, suggesting that a family history of bipolar disorder or alcohol abuse can be important risk factors for these conditions. There have been alcohol addicts on both sides of my family. This is especially true of my father's side, where many of my relatives are (or have been) alcoholics.

In addition to people with BPD, those suffering from unipolar depression often abuse alcohol. I can vividly remember that vicious cycle. You feel depressed and so you self-medicate with alcohol, thinking that it will make you feel better. Then when you sober up, you feel even more depressed, so you drink to forget how depressed you were before you began drinking to relieve your depression. Sound confusing? It is perplexing behavior to those who watch it happening to someone they love. Alcohol is itself a depressant and people who are depressed shouldn't drink it.

If you suffer from mental illness of any type and you drink, you are just pouring gasoline on your fiery problem. You, or someone who loves you, should inform your mental health professional of your use of alcohol (or other drug). Evidence suggests that 25% of people who commit suicide are dependent (mentally or physically) on alcohol and 50% have alcohol in their blood when they die.

Friends, this is a serious issue. The question is, "Are you serious about dealing with your mental illness in the most effective way possible?" If you are, then you will need to take a long hard look at your involvement with alcohol. I am certain that if my drinking patterns had continued the way they were, I would not be alive today. That's why I think that sobriety, a more stable mood, and a happier life go hand-in-hand.

"Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has needless bruises? Who has bloodshot eyes? Those who linger over wine...(Proverbs 23:29f)."

["I'm so low, I could do a ten minute free-fall off the edge of a dime."]

No comments: