Monday, 16 February 2009
Alcoholism is a Disease
I have always wondered if alcoholism is a disease. Is this just some sort of idea someone dreamed up years ago as a method to make a buck. You know it could have been that way. People think diseases are either curable or that the symptoms can be controlled to an extent where the person can live pretty normally. The signal sent to alcoholics by the idea that alcoholism is a disease is, "I can be cured by a pill" or "there is hope". And they go off and search for a cure to this mysterious disease......
It may be a disease, though. What is the definition of "disease"? It is an abnormal condition that impairs bodily functions with accompanying symptoms (after Wikipedia). Or here is another definition: An alteration of the state of the body or parts of it interrupting normal function (mine after ThinkExist.com). These are broad definitions. We usually think of diseases as say a virus that infects us and causes illness; the common cold is the most obvious example. But all these sorts of diseases are the result of something happening to us over which we had no control. The disease happened to us rather than being self inflicted. Alcoholism gives the impression that is it self-inflicted. If it is purely self inflicted it can't be a disease, can it? However, even pure self-mutilation could be considered a disease because it goes against the fundamental programming of our minds, self preservation.
When one thinks about it, it is possible to consider alcoholism as a disease. Lets think of it this way. The alcoholic is born predisposed to alcoholism or addiction. This happened to the person and is not self inflicted. The person didn't ask to be born or born with such a predisposition. Second this predisposition, that is a dormant seed inside the alcoholic, is then awakened during childhood by certain life experiences. The alcoholic-to-be didn't ask for these things to happen. During childhood we have little control over what happens to us. What happens to us is in the hands of our parents and all parents f**k up their kids (not true but a well know English poet said that - Philip Larkin - This Be The Verse).
There is then, arguably, the process of: a predisposition + certain aggravating circumstances that activate the seed of alcoholism. As a result the brain acts abnormally in that it tells the person to drink to an excessive level such that it causes harm to the person, with real symptoms. It is, in short, an abnormal condition that impairs bodily functions with accompanying symptoms. Alcoholism is a disease. That is true alcoholism. But I'm still not sure and nor is this guy:
One problem with alcoholism is that the term is used widely to describe a range of types of problem drinking. Some relatively heavy drinkers may give the impression of being alcoholic but aren't. Some people who are heavy drinkers are convinced that they can stop and are not therefore alcoholics. More mind games and tricks perhaps. The concept of alcoholism is slippery, which makes the idea that alcoholism is a disease a little difficult to accept.
One last thing. If alcoholics consider alcoholism a disease does it make them more passive about fixing it? You know,"I'm a victim, it's not my fault..etc." It takes a strong mental approach to become and stay a recovering alcoholic.
From Alcoholism is a Disease to Stages in Alcoholism
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