News stories during the holidays sometimes deliver information about men's shopping habits, but in many families, gifts that come from the mall aren't the best ones guys can give their loved ones.
For tens of thousands of Oregon men who are addicted to alcohol, the most valuable gift they can give is the gift of sobriety.
Call it the gift of you.
Like many adults, I cannot remember many of the gifts I was given as a child, although I do remember the time I spent with the people who gave them. But in more than a decade as an addictions counselor, I heard the same words repeated about the gift men gave when they fought back against alcoholism.
Men in recovery would say, "I'm back!"
And their wives would tell me, "I have my husband back."
Gentlemen, your families love you. But if you are an alcoholic, the substance is probably blurring your ability to nurture your family, earn a living and meet your responsibilities as a husband, dad, son, uncle, grandfather or mentor. You know you are trapped in a foggy wasteland. Your family and friends are fearful about receiving a phone call from the hospital, jail or coroner, and they are saddened as they watch you drink yourself to death.
Think about the gift you can give, and think how proud you would be to give it. If you have a job with insurance, you can talk with your insurance company about treatment coverage. Beginning Jan. 1, 2007, some companies will be required to cover chemical dependency and mental health treatment. You can also call your Employee Assistance Program for help. If you have a low income and no private insurance, you may qualify for free, publicly financed treatment.
Alcoholics Anonymous chapters meet in virtually every Oregon community on any given day. You might also call the Oregon Partnership 24-hour helpline toll free at 1-800-923-HELP if you have questions or want support.
Will it require personal courage? Sure. And there are lots of people who are eager to help, if only you will ask.
Karen Wheeler is addictions policy manager in the Addictions and Mental Health Division of the Oregon Department of Human Services.