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"My Disease"

Old 03-06-2008, 11:19 AM
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"My Disease"

I know that alcoholism is considered a disease, but I wanted some opinions on a conversation my husband and I had last night

We were talking about my cousin who is drinking a lot and taking combinations of pills and nicotine patches and drugs in order to get high. My husband said to me "Don't get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with him having a couple beers now and then. I know if I didn't suffer from this disease I'd still have one or two on the weekends but he's overdoing it."

The part that bothered me was when he said "If I didn't suffer from this disease" I have a hard time looking at alcoholism as a disease. It feels like there's no responsibility on the alcoholic for what's happened. Sort of like kids I see at the schools acting out (hitting, yelling, being disruptive) and the parents say "it's not his/her fault, they had ADHD". In either case, at least IMO, yes there is a certain amount of 'responsibility' that falls to the disease, but it isn't the be all and end all - the alcoholic/parents need to own up to thier part of it.

Even as I write this I'm concerned that I sound cold or callous. That's really not my intent, I just struggle with this.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:35 AM
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I also struggle with viewing it as a disease. I'm trying. I just haven't gotten there yet. It is probably because I don't have that half of the disease (just the codependent part) that I struggle with not understanding the craving.

I think there's perhaps a two part question here. The disease of alcohlism means that the person is basically allergic to alcohol and can't handle it. That's the disease. The behavior part is something different. I hear your question as being one of wanting the alcoholic to take responsibility for the behavior. Perhaps it's a bit like skin cancer. If I develop skin cancer from my weeks of baking in the sun as a younster, what level of responsibility do I have for my disease?

I try to view it as the alcoholic doesn't get a "get out of jail free card" because he/she has a disease. He/she is still responsible for his/her behavior. Just because my sister has cancer doesn't mean she has a free pass to treat everyone around her poorly. We may be more tolerant of her behavior, or more understanding when she says she's having a bad day, but that doesn't make it right for her to treat those around her poorly. So I try viewing the disease of alcoholism in those terms. Yep, my AH has a disease, but that doesn't excuse his behavior. Nor does having ADHD excuse poor behavior in children.

And maybe I'm way off base. I don't know, just trying to find ways to make this bearable. Thanks for the posting, you've got me thinking about an area that I have been struggling in, and although this has been a bit of a ramble, I'm thinking a bit differently than I had in the past about this.
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:52 AM
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I have had a hard time coming to terms with alcoholism being a disease also, however, i think a lot of that stems from the fact that i DO NOT have a problem with alcohol...my husband said last week that he kept drinking because he kept trying to find what was a the bottom of the bottle...i immediantly replied "the top of another one" which apparently came off callous to him maybe it was just a little too truthful too soon...i think that alcoholism CAN be a disease...he comes from a family of alcoholics...2 in recovery and 2 in denial...however..i also think that alcoholism can also easily become a crutch for inexcusable behavior...he used to act out (after downing at least a case of bud light and God knows what kind of pills) and the next afternoon when he had sobered up blame his problem with alcohol and drugs for the verbal and emotional abuse i had taken the night before BUT was totally unwilling to change the behavior and so the vicious cycle would start again....
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Old 03-06-2008, 11:55 AM
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Tough one. The way I see it is the disease isn't his fault - addiction is biology, there's nothing he can do about biology - but he put himself in the position to "catch it" which IS his fault. It's like a heavy smoker getting lung cancer. You just want to slap them and say "Well, duh, Barbie!" They're playing Russian roulette. Will this be the cigarette/drink that kills me? Sympathy is more accepted. No one says "I told you so"... even though they're thinking it.

I struggle with that one too.
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Old 03-06-2008, 12:02 PM
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Thank you all for your replies. It means so much to me that I'm not alone in struggling with this.
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Old 03-06-2008, 02:28 PM
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The way I see it is that yes, its a disease but having a disease does not excuse bad behavior or bad choices. I would not excuse bad behavior or choices from someone who had Disease X. People are responsible for their behaviors and choices even if there is an underlying factor.

For instance, I am an ACOA. It has influenced who I am and how I react to the world. But it is not an excuse for my bad choices or my less than desireable character traits. I can overcome those bad influences from my past. Similarly, an alcoholic can choose to fight the addiction and find healthier ways to deal with the world.
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Old 03-06-2008, 03:22 PM
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Here this might help.
My Ex told me this and it kind of explains it so other people without the disease. He does not have a problem drinking his problem he does not know when to stop. Some of his old friends would say you can stop whenever you want to. He would say it I could do that I would not a problem.

I believe that is in the our genes. My exHusband has this disease, his father had this disease, his grandfather had this disease, and I also think my son has the disease.
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Old 03-06-2008, 04:23 PM
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Originally Posted by wooforever View Post
I believe that is in the our genes. My exHusband has this disease, his father had this disease, his grandfather had this disease, and I also think my son has the disease.
There is a lot of evidence for a genetic predisposition to addictive behaviors. But not a causal relationship.

For instance, both my parents were alcoholic. My 2 brothers are alcoholic. I am not.
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Old 03-06-2008, 05:44 PM
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Under the Influence explains in detail about the disease aspect of alcoholism. According to it, only about 10% of the poplulation CAN become an alcoholic,because of the way these bodies metabolize alcohol when it is ingested. I found it to be really interesting reading.

I'm glad your husband has both accepted the fact that it is a disease and he has it and that he is doing what he can to stay healthy. Knowing he can not drink and then taking the action of not drinking is such a major accomplishment!!
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Old 03-06-2008, 06:27 PM
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Will knowing whether alcoholism is a disease change anything? Will it improve your life? Make your partner's unacceptable behavior more acceptable? Make you less angry or your relationship less strained?

This topic has been discussed over and over again on this forum and we've never been able to come to a group concensus. All I know is that alcohol took a hold of my boyfriend--mind, body, and soul. His life spiraled out of control and he fell into an abyss that he was incapable of escaping. On several occassions, he tried to take his life back, but his alcoholism proved to be too powerful. It robbed him of his health, his sanity, his job, his home, his friends, and his family. And when that wasn't enough, it robbed him of his life.

It doesn't matter to me whether alcoholism is a disease or not. It won't bring Richard back and it won't change anything. It robbed Richard of everything and it robbed me of the only man I've ever loved. And when there was nothing left to take from Richard, it moved on to it's next victim.

The only victory I can claim in our joint battle against alcoholism is that with the help of Alanon and SR, I was able to get healthy and take control of my life. But that didn't happen until I stopped focusing on others and started focusing on myself.
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