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Addiction a disease

Old 01-05-2011, 07:59 PM
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Addiction a disease

I wouldn't mind sparking a good debate here if anyone is game. I broke up with my very selfish and emotionally abusive alcoholic ex a few months ago. Sometimes I can't decide if I think it's a disease. Sometimes I really wonder if that's just a way for everyone all around to feel better about it. Those involved with the alcoholic can say, "Oh that's not him. It's a disease. It's not about you." And the alcoholic can say, "I'm not a bad person. It's a disease." Anyone else want to share? I'd love to hear from anyone who is convinced it is a disease and why. I'd like to believe it.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:13 PM
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In the years I've been coming to SR, this debate has played out over and over and over again. My belief is that it doesn't really matter--unless you are the one afflicted. From the F&F standpoint, disease or not is irrelevant. It's the behavior that matters, and a disease is not an excuse for unacceptable behavior. I would not accept abusive behavior from someone just because they had cancer, so why would alcoholism be any different?

FWIW, my opinion is that it's not a disease in the same sense that cancer is. But it is a mental disorder, so if you classify mental disorders as diseases, then yes it is.

L
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:18 PM
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Yeah, we had a thread about this just a couple of days ago. To me, it's just semantics so far as the alcoholic goes. If thinking of it as a disease helps them in their recovery, then great. But, when it comes to the friends and family standpoint, it's all about the behavior and I've seen alcohol blamed for rotten behavior, when in reality, the person is just a natural jerk.

Like the saying goes, you sober up a drunk thief, and you're still stuck with a thief.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:20 PM
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Did either of you watch the latest intervention? Her family all claimed that she was a completely different person sober.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:20 PM
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Oh, and the rest of my opinion is that all this debating about whether our loved ones have a disease or not is just a way of deflecting onto them when we should be reflecting on our own behaviors and dysfunction.

L
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:25 PM
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We don't watch Intervention with any regularity. Sometimes we'll come across it while looking for something to watch and we'll tune in.

We do watch Snapped quite often though.
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Old 01-05-2011, 08:42 PM
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I think it is a disease, absolutely. However, I think that we are still responsible for our behavior at the end of the day, illness or not.

One parallel I thought of once is, supposing I had tuberculosis. Having the illness wouldn't make me a bad person, it wouldn't be my fault. But if I went out contagious into shopping malls then I'd be an irresponsible @#$% and be owed no sympathy. So it is with alcoholics, we can't control what alcohol does to us, we can't control the physiological changes, but we do need to control use so we don't recklessly harm ourselves, people in our lives, society, etc.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:07 PM
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You might want to read Dr. Gabor Mate's. Work, <In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with addiction>. . .it really doesn't matter (I agee with LaTeeDa), but there is a lot of science & epigenetics to support this.
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Old 01-05-2011, 09:26 PM
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I think of it as a disease in the way depression is a disease or perhaps disorder would be a word that worked better for me. If you are depressed you don't have an excuse to be excluded from regular adult life. You are faced with a challenge that not everyone has and it is up to you to deal with it accordingly. Sometimes that challenge might make life difficult and sometimes you might have to ask that others in your life to be understanding (it is up to you to ask and meet that need responsibly and others are not obligated to be helpful). In either case there are choices to make. You can just continue on feeling depressed or being a drunk and let it affect your life or you can seek help and treat your problem. All of us have challenges that are unique to us and we all must face those challenges. Being depressed, like being an alcoholic, is not permission to not be functional or be excused from life...it is up the individual to figure out how to live with their disorder. As F&F of A's it is not up to us to figure out how to help the individual to live with their disorder it is up to us to deal with our own.
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Old 01-05-2011, 10:59 PM
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The reason they talk about it being a disease is that it is know that the brain makeup of an alcoholic is different than non-alcoholics something to do with the THQ. So when an alcoholic pickes up physically changes occur like cravings, its like having an allergy to it. Behavior is a whole other topic so I think you are getting your concepts twisted a little IMO. The Big Book describes it real well if you want to know go read it. BTW I love that show Snapped. Keep the Faith Judy M
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Old 01-06-2011, 02:29 AM
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There is a proven genetic disposition, susceptibility, whatever you want to call it. It is proven to run in families and it is proven that some backgrounds such as American Indian are genetically predisposed.
So there's no arguing with that.
However the question seems to be here--does having this condition excuse bad behavior?
I think not based on the logical argument that not all drunks go home and beat their families, or any other bad behavior. If the behaviors were caused by the disease, then all alcoholics would behave exactly the same--either all would beat their families or none would.
Not to say that many don't have similar behaviors. It's amazing how similarly they can think. It's also good to point out that there are as different types of alcoholics as there are anything else.
Not arguable: Alcohol is a poison. Not arguable: That poison in large quantities will destroy the liver and other organs. Not arguable: Those who drink excessively, disease or not, mess up their lives.
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Old 01-06-2011, 03:49 AM
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Well, the problem I have with this is that most of us alcoholics don't admit to ourselves that it's a disease and we find every trick in the universe to fool others and our own mind into continuing to drink. Sometimes for years and years until everything and everyone we know is destroyed.

If it's a disease then, it's a mental disease first.

If you are diagnosed with any other disease, do you deny it for 20 yrs. before getting help? Probably not.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:04 AM
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Originally Posted by brokenheartfool View Post
There is a proven genetic disposition, susceptibility, whatever you want to call it. It is proven to run in families and it is proven that some backgrounds such as American Indian are genetically predisposed.
So there's no arguing with that.
Except that's never been definitely proven and all that has been indicated is that some people's Gaba(b) receptors are more easily interfered with by alcohol, so they can develop a physical dependence problem quicker than someone with more resistance. Just like, for example, how someone with a slow metabolism will become overweight on less food than someone with a fast metabolism, but somebody with a naturally fast metabolism can still become overweight if they abuse food for long enough.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:06 AM
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LaTeeDa - I am an alcoholic as well. Remember that you don't really know the people who post with.

I think what disturbs me is how upset codies get in these threads trying to fix everyone into always focusing on yourself. Suppose I was able to accept this as a disease. I can depersonalize even more and forgive everything that was done to me, further moving on.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:07 AM
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I never thought of the depression analogy. That makes sense - thanks Crystal. Thanks for the book recommendation YorkieG. I'll check that out.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:28 AM
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What helped me get my head around the subject was to think of addiction as it's most common denominator, a chemical dependency. Drugs alter brain chemistry and people forget alcohol is a drug.

Now, is a chemical dependency a disease? Since the AMA classified it, (alcoholism) as a disease years ago, people suffering from chemical dependencies of all kinds can now seek medical treatment, and insurance covers it as medical treatment, (some better than others). Good news story if you ask me.
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Old 01-06-2011, 05:53 AM
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people suffering from chemical dependencies of all kinds can now seek medical treatment, and insurance covers it as medical treatment,
yup! even if it takes them 25 yrs of addiction to seek the treatment...

addicts don't have a good record for admitting they are addicted.
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Old 01-06-2011, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Jazzman View Post
What helped me get my head around the subject was to think of addiction as it's most common denominator, a chemical dependency. Drugs alter brain chemistry and people forget alcohol is a drug.
I think it's also worth remembering that just about every single unnecessary substance we consume can create chemical dependency if we aren't careful. Caffeine, processed sugar, certain types of fats, etc. I know that if I don't drink coffee I get a rotten headache by the early afternoon. It's really awful, like my head is trapped in a vice. That headache will continue nagging at me for several days if I don't get a hold of some caffeine, in some people it can continue on for weeks.

Long-term alcohol dependency is much, much worse as it has such a detrimental effect on the (b) receptors for GABA, which is our main inhibitory neurotransmitter . This has a negative impact on such a wide range of our emotional and physical abilities. It also blocks Thiamine production, which helps regulate mood and rationality. Withdrawal from long-term alcohol abuse can take years and years to end (time depends on the level of abuse and perhaps, the initial susceptibility of the Gaba(b) receptors).

The post acute withdrawal (5 days to 2 weeks) which is highly visible to the observer, sweats, panic attacks, speeded up heart rate, etc,. Is very much only the beginning of withdrawal. While it looks, and can initially feel, like normality is restored after the first withdrawal phase, it's unlikely to be. It's why so many people go through an inpatient detox/rehab and come out seeming great but return again to alcohol abuse very quickly. Imo, it's why people need to remain very careful for quite a long time after quitting and why they can be prone to mood swings and irrationality.

As to how responsible for their actions they are, that's a tough one. They are effectively brain damaged during abuse and withdrawal. My opinion is that a certain amount of leeway can be given, but if someone hurts you, emotionally/physically/however, it's up to you about how much forgiveness you can give.
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Old 01-06-2011, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by goldengirl3 View Post
I, "I'm not a bad person. It's a disease."
well heck yeah you can agree to that. it is a disease and you are not a bad person, you are just doing bad freaking things. so get a hold of yourself and stop it!!! kind of puts the responsibility of their choices right back in their lap. it is a disease which can be put into remission and healing. but it does take effort on their part. still keeps them accountable doesn't it?
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Old 01-06-2011, 08:02 AM
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Originally Posted by goldengirl3 View Post
LaTeeDa - I am an alcoholic as well. Remember that you don't really know the people who post with.
Like I said, it matters if you are the one afflicted.

As far as diagnosing others, it doesn't matter, doesn't matter, doesn't matter. Have you read "Codependent No More?"

L
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