Monday, 16 February 2009

Alcoholism is a Disease

alcoholism is a disease and can be cured
1904 Advertisement

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

Header image published published under Wikimedia® creative commons license license = Attribution-ShareAlike License

28 comments:

  1. Alcoholism is the new death wish…..thats all I have to say> we need to offer a hand to those in need of help. Help by helping others, not by ignoring the pain…

    http://www.recoveryconnection.org/?utm_source=alcoholism&utm_medium=pv&utm_campaign=home

    ReplyDelete
  2. My vote is that alcoholism is a mental illness, brought about by a culmination of mental illnesses from a variety of disorders, ie. anxiety, depression, sexual abuse, pshyco-saumatic trauma etc.

    If you call those other things 'diseases', than ok I can go with alcoholism is a disease.

    ReplyDelete
  3. In my experience I think that alcoholism is an ADDICTION. It has both an element of chemical dependency as is apparent from the withdrawal symptoms when an alcoholic stops drinking and there is also a ritualistic part to it where the alcoholic (if they have a choice) will drink their preferred "brand" and will often consume it in the same environment.
    Mental illness often occurs alongside alcoholism and may lead to alcoholism but I think that it is a separate entity.
    Good post, really got me thinking.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have recently started attending Al Anon after 13 years of marriage to an alcoholic. We have 2 kids aged 10 and 5. It took me many years to start to realise the extent of the problem, and only in the last 12 months have I started to use the word 'alcoholic'. I completely changed my tack, whereas before I was always trying to cover up, and would rarely raise the question of drink with him, I have become much more open with friends and family, seeking help and support from many sources. The one thing that has not changed is my husband's level of drinking - he now does a lot more of it in 'secret' to avoid my 'nagging'. That is going to stop now I am starting to follow the Al Anon steps. As for the disease, yes I am coming round to the idea that it is a disease, something you should not be angry with the sufferer about. However, I find that it REALLY hard not to be angry that he will not seek help for it - you would be angry if your loved one had a lump and put off going to the doctor wouldn't you? The difference is they get an enormous amount of pleasure and relief from their 'disease' and the negatives may be far less evident to them, for obvious reasons, than they are to those around them. The fear of losing this comfort blanket is a major part of the disease, too. So even when they are sober and feeling guilt, shame, remorse, the only thing they can think of to change that is to drink again, as anything else is just too frightening.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The role of responsible alcohol retailing and training programs is to ensure the safety of people who take alcohol and for the retailers to limit their customers with drinking and providing information also about alcoholic drinks.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  9. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Spam comments are deleted.

    ReplyDelete
  11. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  16. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Does your site have a contact page? I'm having a tough time locating it but, I'd like to
    send you an email. I've got some recommendations for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great blog and I look forward to seeing it improve over time.

    Here is my website: http://www.methadoneclinicsnear.com/methadone-clinics-in-maine-and-top-search-suggestions

    ReplyDelete
  20. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  21. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  23. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  24. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  27. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  28. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete

I'd like to hear the experiences of both alcoholics and the victims of alcoholics, please.