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Old 06-26-2011, 09:17 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Is Alcoholism Really A "Disease"?

I've been debating that question within my self lately. I posted about being denied SSDI because of substance abuse but I have encountered discrimination because of my alcoholism for over 10 years. What if alcoholism isn't really a disease and I've just been a selfish weak person my whole life? I'm starting to feel that way. I know the AMA labeled it a disease years ago but I feel most of society feels that it isn't. I once had a good sales job years ago & when I told my boss I needed time off for treatment he fired me. When I purchased a $10 bag of heroin I was arrested (and treated very harsh by the police) because it's illegal to purchase street narcotics. What other disease has the devastation that addiction has? Cancer is a horrible disease that wrecks havok on the body yet society is very sympathetic of cancer. People may ask why I care what society thinks but I have to some degree because I live within society. I'm staying sober barely and have so much anger I don't know what the heck to do. If I pick up the bottle and go on a bender with this anger something horribly and life altering to me will happen. I feel it. Depression and anger is a dangerous mix when added to booze/drugs. Thanks for reading I know it's kinda long. I'm going to a 5pm AA meeting tonite.
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Just my opinion and experience for what it is worth: Alcoholism/addiction is a devastating disease. Just like any cancer unless put in remission it will kill the person who has it. Mine has been in remission for 10 years but I still have to take my medicine to keep it there. My medicine is AA.
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:42 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Nan, I suppose I do believe it's a disease but sometimes I just get real frustrated with how others think of it. I realize I need to get over it but it's hard for some reason. The consequences have been so devastating to my life and I either didn't realize it or didn't care when I was drunk daily staggering around. They have a lot of new medical technology and knowledge but when it comes to addiction I don't think they know a whole lot. Addiction can change a persons psychology makeup. It is quite scary and I'm trying to be grateful for sobriety.
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Old 06-26-2011, 09:56 AM   #4 (permalink)
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http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...a_disease.html (Alcoholism_is_a_disease)
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:24 AM   #5 (permalink)
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I know there are questions and a huge stigma attached to alcoholism and addiction. I got stuck on this for a long time. I finally decided to focus on the Hows and Whats instead of the Whys. How does alcohol affect my behavior? What do I do to change it? The Whys may always remain unanswered. Work on changing what you can. Good luck...
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Old 06-26-2011, 10:54 AM   #6 (permalink)
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i have found since i recovered through doing the work in the 12 steps and now come from a position of usefullness that i have very rarely come across negativity regarding my disease.
in fact...it was my homegroups one year birthday yesterday and we had an open friends and family meeting.i work in a bed and breakfast and my bosses came along.i have been open and honest with them about myself since day one.after only four months after starting work there they went away and left me in charge of the place for 5 days.
they have since left me to run their business several times since then.
for the most part people are just delighted in todays society that folk are doing their best and trying to stay well.
the only time in 2 years i have come across any negativity was from my doctor when i first got into recovery...he had seen me in various stages of disaray over the years and all he said when i told him i was in AA was "isnt that a cult?" lol.....
if i am recovered an coming from a position to be helpful and not self seeking most folk are cool.
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Old 06-26-2011, 11:26 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Alcoholism is a disease when it starts to negatively impact your life. It negatively impacted my life when it would change my personality, cause me to lose friendships, and affected my health in a bad way. It started to negatively impact my life and I started finding cures. My cures have been finding new hobbies, reconnecting with people who I've lost touch with, eating healthy, and just having fun with alcohol.

Not having alcohol in my life has been an adjustment. I'm learning many new things about myself and I'm beginning to trust myself more. Realizing that you are an alcoholic does not have to be depressing. Throughout life, I've learned that somethings can be blessings in disguise. When you realize that you are an alcoholic, you are improving yourself by not drinking. You are becoming a better, stronger person.
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Old 06-26-2011, 12:10 PM   #8 (permalink)
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If you want to know what a majority of society thinks ask a normal drinker or a person who doesn't have addiction issues.

I think there are genetic and environmental factors that can lead to addiction issues and alcoholism, but I have learned over the last year that it is not a disease, (for me), it was a personality/psychological disorder. I do react differently to alcohol, but the major problem, (the drinking), was self caused and self cured.
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Old 06-26-2011, 12:26 PM   #9 (permalink)
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I once had a good sales job years ago & when I told my boss I needed time off for treatment he fired me.
I don't know how long ago this was, but this is illegal in the USA under the family medical leave act of 1993.
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Old 06-26-2011, 12:38 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Justfor1 View Post
I've been debating that question within my self lately. I posted about being denied SSDI because of substance abuse but I have encountered discrimination because of my alcoholism for over 10 years. What if alcoholism isn't really a disease and I've just been a selfish weak person my whole life? I'm starting to feel that way. I know the AMA labeled it a disease years ago but I feel most of society feels that it isn't. I once had a good sales job years ago & when I told my boss I needed time off for treatment he fired me. When I purchased a $10 bag of heroin I was arrested (and treated very harsh by the police) because it's illegal to purchase street narcotics. What other disease has the devastation that addiction has? Cancer is a horrible disease that wrecks havok on the body yet society is very sympathetic of cancer. People may ask why I care what society thinks but I have to some degree because I live within society. I'm staying sober barely and have so much anger I don't know what the heck to do. If I pick up the bottle and go on a bender with this anger something horribly and life altering to me will happen. I feel it. Depression and anger is a dangerous mix when added to booze/drugs. Thanks for reading I know it's kinda long. I'm going to a 5pm AA meeting tonite.
Great post Justfor1.. i look at it as an Affliction. but, that's just me. it all but killed me and all the while kept telling me "hey.. it's OK you Ain't that bad" society is what it is. i really care Much less now what most people think about me. i am staying clean and sober and doing the best that i can right now. that is my main concern.. glad you plan on hitting that 5pm AA! keep the chin up my friend!
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:00 PM   #11 (permalink)
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If you want to know what a majority of society thinks ask a normal drinker or a person who doesn't have addiction issues.

I think there are genetic and environmental factors that can lead to addiction issues and alcoholism, but I have learned over the last year that it is not a disease, (for me), it was a personality/psychological disorder. I do react differently to alcohol, but the major problem, (the drinking), was self caused and self cured.
Many "normal drinkers" have actually come to accept the disease theory, in as much as they take it to mean medical disease.

Upwards of 90% of American Society accepts the notion, though most without knowing just what is meant by "the disease" of alcoholism. Most certainly have no idea as to how recovery culture actually defines it.

I am aware that a large number of people who don't accept the medical disease theory do accept the psychological disease theory, and are often fans of Stanton Peele and his partner in crime, Jeffrey A. Schaler, which make up the bulwark of the "addiction is a choice" movement.

While I believe firmly in anyone's own ability to quit for good, regardless of how deeply they are addicted, I am not a fan of psychological theories of addiction myself.

Although in practical terms, psychology can help people to quit their addictions, I do believe that there is a physiological component to alcoholism, just as there is with nicotine addiction.
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:01 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Alcoholism is a disease that is treated like something that we brought upon ourselves. When someone is a long term smoker and you hear they have Cancer, although people feel sorry for the person, there is still that mental thought that they brought it upon themselves.

This is similar to Alcoholism, but the bottom line is no matter if you have Cancer or Alcoholism, without treatment they will kill you.....
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:30 PM   #13 (permalink)
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...the bottom line is no matter if you have Cancer or Alcoholism, without treatment they will kill you.....
What about people who quit before "treatment" existed? You know, like back in the day when people were praying to Zeus and Athena?

No alcoholics recovered back then? They all died from the disease?
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:49 PM   #14 (permalink)
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This is what puts a lot of people at odds. Whether it's a disease or not. It's not. It's an illness which is different than a disease. A disease can be detected with a litmus test while an illness can not. Very seldom do you hear about a hospital for the mentally "Diseased". It's "Mentally Ill" folks.
Compare this illness to any other type of mental disorder. Is Anorexia BS? How bout Kleptomania? Some type of OCD? The list goes on. Those that are sitting on the outside can only speculate and accuse weak will of being the main catalyst in this self destructive behavior.
As long as we run around calling this a "Disease" we'll be creating skeptics that are dismissive of our condition.
It's an "Illness" and as the book says it centers in our mind and our drinking is but a symptom. Whether you're AA or not it's very difficult to contest that statement.
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Old 06-26-2011, 01:53 PM   #15 (permalink)
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This is what puts a lot of people at odds. Whether it's a disease or not. It's not. It's an illness which is different than a disease. A disease can be detected with a litmus test while an illness can not. Very seldom do you hear about a hospital for the mentally "Diseased". It's "Mentally Ill" folks.
Compare this illness to any other type of mental disorder. Is Anorexia BS? How bout Kleptomania? Some type of OCD? The list goes on. Those that are sitting on the outside can only speculate and accuse weak will of being the main catalyst in this self destructive behavior.
As long as we run around calling this a "Disease" we'll be creating skeptics that are dismissive of our condition.
It's an "Illness" and as the book says it centers in our mind and our drinking is but a symptom. Whether you're AA or not it's very difficult to contest that statement.
Bill Wilson would agree:

"We AAs have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically speaking, it is not a disease entity. For example, there is no such thing as heart disease. Instead there are many separate heart ailments or combinations of them. It is something like that with alcoholism. Therefore, we did not wish to get in wrong with the medical profession by pronouncing alcoholism a disease entity. Hence, we have always called it an illness or a malady a far safer term for us to use."
--Bill Wilson at the National Clerical Conference on Alcoholism convention, April 21, 1960
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:22 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Just....
the point is ..the deal is....you know your drinking has caused you harm in many ways. You did quit before and are currently sober.....good for you...

Enjoy your meeting...share your experiences....some one there needs to hear what you do know...
Go for coffee after....talk to a newly guy...you really can be part of anothers journey tonight. .
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:26 PM   #17 (permalink)
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What about people who quit before "treatment" existed? You know, like back in the day when people were praying to Zeus and Athena?

No alcoholics recovered back then? They all died from the disease?

Oh, I see what you're talking about now. By treatment, I mean get some type of help whatever it may be. I mean to treat the illness, not necessarily go to a residential treatment facility.
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Old 06-26-2011, 02:33 PM   #18 (permalink)
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Does it really matter if it is officially classified as a disease or not? I have no idea if addiction is considered a disease, but how many lives does that take every day? Every hour? Considering the consequences of cigarettes/alcohol/hard drug addiction, in the end, definitions just aren't important.
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Old 06-26-2011, 05:32 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The fourth step has a resentment inventory that would help you deal with the anger you are feeling over being denied disability and over your life circumstances. As for alcoholism as a disease, does it really matter? If you don't treat it, the debate will be moot.
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Old 06-26-2011, 06:01 PM   #20 (permalink)
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I'd be cautious of taking medical opinions from lay people... I like a lot of what Bill Wilson wrote, but sometimes his ego got in the way, he failed to realize his own limitations.

I believe it is disease, that is what I was taught in treatment, in AA, and then had it solidified in medical school. At least within the medical community, while there is still disagreement over this issue, the vast majority have accepted the evidence. In fact in the last decade there has been the development of fellowship training programs for physicians to become board certified in addiction medicine. As with other fellowships, it is two years of training to subspecialize once one has completed residency training in a primary specialty. Additionally, most programs require upwards of a year of dedicated research time. I know at the institution I am at there is both basic science, looking at the molecular biology of chemicals and addiction, as well as population level, and psychological research being conducted with NIH grants.

So, yes, from a medical standpoint, it most certainly has been come to be accepted as a disease. Mainly due to the presence of known neurologic pathways that become upregulated, and the fairly predictable course of the disease if not intervened upon. Also, much like depression, or bipolar, or other mental health diseases, the disease is multifactorial, cannot be entirely explained (at present time) by biology but one must take into account environment, genetics, personality, etc.

I think as more scientific progress is made in this field, there will be less and less debate about it.

For me... my personal feeling on the debate as it relates to myself and my disease is, "Who cares?" Other's acknowledgment of alcoholism as a disease will not, and has not, determined or changed what I do to successfully treat it.
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