Body Horror: On the Slow Process of Falling Apart in Alcoholism


By John Teufel

Original Source: John Teufel

You know what’s going on, even if you don’t want to admit it. You are dying, and these are but the outward signs of the inner decay you suspect is getting worse by the day.

Alcohol is a poison. I don’t mean that in the Women’s Temperance Union sense, I mean it literally – it’s a substance foreign to a human body that produces harms of varying types and degrees. The harms that seem to get the most attention either focus on the brain, the source of mental addiction and the most obvious victim when someone imbibes too much, or a bit lower, in the abdomen, where we are told that livers scar and calcify, and hearts turn clogged and weak.

These things are bad enough. But while the demon rum runs rampant on our brain cells and kidneys, it doesn’t spare the rest of us. Late-stage alcoholism brands the sufferer entirely, and affixes to him a gruesome variety of visible physical ailments. Some target the alcoholic’s sense of vanity; others, his very ability to go and be in the world. But make no mistake: for the serious drunk, there is a constant dialectic at play, whereby the rest of the world perceives your sickness, and your sickness perceives their perceptions, and the whole thing only resolves itself with another drink.

I lived to acquire and consume alcohol for around six straight years, beginning at the age of 24 and ceasing, periodically and in fits and starts, at 30. Over that period, I…click here to continue reading