While I was out running today, I had one of those self-congratulatory moments: ‘Look at me running about! How cool is it that I have made 32 blog posts and still being health’n all…?’ But just as my excitement about myself was getting a bit out of hand, I started thinking about what I have learned during the last month and my self-satisfaction dropped to a level that was manageable. While I guess that I have come to understand a great deal about myself, I actually know almost nothing about alcohol and alcoholism! That is a bit strange, I think. For most of my life, alcoholism has served as a moral compas to remind me of the routes that I should not take. Even before beginning this blog, alcohol and alcoholism were probably the two things that I have thought most about. But I actually don’t know what alcoholism is. Honestly, if I were to explain what alcoholism is as a physical phenomenon, I would have to google it: How long can a human body endure serious alcohol abuse before collapsing? Does alcohol affect middleaged academics differently than, say, a middleaged academics' teenage son? Just to take one completely random example.
And it’s not just the physical traits of alcoholism or the physical effects of consuming alcohol that I am completely ignorant about. It’s everything that follows in its path. The treatment of alcoholism, for example. What are the main medical alcohol treatments? What is their success rate? And what about AA: I have attended several Al-anon meetings and one AA meeting and I didn’t really like neither one. But what is the 12 step treatment really about? Why does it work for so many people? And is it true that you can do AA even if you don’t believe in God? Are there other similar treatments but which do not have a spiritual superstructure? I also know very little about alcoholism as a wider social problem. I know that alcoholism asserts itself differently in different social environments but what are the actual difference between alcoholism in, say, Asia, subSaharan Africa and the US?
So my moment of complacency during the afternoon run was quickly replaced with the realisation that I am an ignorant idiot when it comes to alcoholism. I have therefore decided that during the coming month I will try to find out as much as I can about alcoholism and document my insights in the blog posts. Probably not every day, though. I also realised today that since I am the Master of my own blog I can probably write whatever I want. But I will make an effort of documenting the process of upgrading my knowledge about alcoholism. Considering the level I am at right now, it won't be too hard a task.