Friday, April 20, 2012

Is There Really a Door of Hope?

Many years ago I wrote a review of the book Psychodynamics of Alcoholism for A.D. Hartmark, chaplain and counselor of The Door of Hope in Minnesota. I would like to share this review, for I think the principles here are timeless for those struggling with this problem. I could relate personally for my mother was an alcoholic and drug addict, along with her sister and brother. The review was eventually published in Healthways Magazine.


Life is going smoothly for you. Those people you depend upon are consistent and reliable (have you ever given thought to the importance of this?), you love and are loved in return, and you and your family are physically and mentally healthy. You make your daily, weekly, monthly and yearly plans with little doubt that they will turn out for you, simply because you have your health and your ability to love and to be loved.

Not so with the alcoholic and/or drug addict and his or her family. Certainly this is one of the most tragic religious, social and economic problems confronting the peoples of the world today. Brought down to a particular family, it spells unhappiness, frustration, loss of self-esteem, loneliness and, the worst specter of all, utter hopelessness and loss of direction in life.

The confirmed alcoholic can no longer manage his own life, much less the lives of loved ones who need his love and support. He can no longer reason from cause to effect, his character degenerates as the alcohol replaces will power, and his physical health degenerates as the bottle replaces nutritious meals.

As world and personal tensions increase, so does this global scourge of escapism, whether through alcohol or drugs. Organizations are being formed in efforts to bring hope for these hopeless and hapless individuals who have embarked either knowingly or unknowingly upon a path of self-destruction and, in too many cases, destruction of they hold dear in life.

Reverend A.D. Hartmark, chaplain and counselor of The Door of Hope, has written a hard-hitting book on alcoholism and its causes and effects on the body and mind. The book follows the alcoholic's path from the initial social drink to obsession and finally complete subjection to a force he can no longer control.

The book, Psychodynamics of Alcoholism, also outlines hope for those unfortunates who have been caught in the web of their own fears, worries, resentments, inabilities to cope with reality, feelings of inferiority and the many reasons and excuses given by and for the alcoholic.

Reverend Hartmark gives several suggestions for those who are forced to live with the person who drinks compulsively:

1. Do not let the confusion of the alcoholic transfer itself to the family.

2. Make certain in your own mind that the situation is not subconsciously as you want it to be.

3. Seek professional help through community resources and agencies equipped to give specialized guidance.

4. Create situations where the alcoholic must feel the effects of his behavior rather than continue to lie and cover up for him.

5. Avoid the "home treatment" program of begging, lecturing, threatening, hiding the liquor supply, etc. This simply doesn't work.

6. Pray!

The philosophy behind The Door of Hope is the rehabilitation of the whole person, spiritually, socially, economically and nutritionally. Methods employed are individual and group therapy, counseling, lectures, films and inspirational programs, and worship services. Good nutrition and proper medical attention, so often neglected by the addict, are added essentials to the program offered by The Door of Hope.

Prerequisites for admission are a sincere desire to overcome addiction and to return to a useful and rewarding life. If the resident of the home insists on indulging in his habit, then he is asked to leave immediately. There is kindness but no coddling.

Once the person walks through The Door of Hope with a consuming desire to return to reality and freedom, then indeed there is hope. And there is cause for rejoicing among those who love him in spite of himself. Only the reformed alcoholic and his family know what it is to come out of the very depths of hell.

Published in Healthways Magazine, 1972

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