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OMG It IS a Disease

Old 05-09-2012, 02:59 PM
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OMG It IS a Disease

I was reading these forums last night when someone commented "I read all the books including Under the Influence . . .

So I downloaded the book and read about 200 pages into the wee hours of the night.

I really don't know why it's taken me 17 years to get my head around this, but all I can say is this book helped me. I would recommend it to anyone. The author talks about exactly what happens when a person drinks, and how alcoholics are just plain different as far as how alcohol affects them.

A's have this genetic, flawed alcohol processing system that makes them different physiologically than the other 90%+ of us.

He talked about the early stages, the middle stages, and the late stages of alcoholism -- and I felt like I was reading AW's autobiography.

I really came to appreciate what a trap this is for the A's, because they start drinking along with everyone else, and by the time anyone (including them) realizes there's a problem -- they can't stop. It is a nightmare and I'll bet not a single one could have ever imagined this would happen to them.

It also talks about how malnourished A's get and how their cells and blood sugar gets all messed up and basically how next-to-impossible it is for them to withdraw without serious medical help.

I have personally debated in my mind whether alcoholism is a disease and I have been pretty cynical about it. But I'll be darned, I have changed my mind.

My AW is sick. She has a disease. Her father is an alcoholic. The next time I hear an A or loved one of an A talk about "the disease", I'm not going to roll my eyes.

You don't have to agree -- I wouldn't have agreed a week or month or year or 5 years ago -- but for what it's worth, I read Under the Influence and I truly feel it helped me.

All the best...
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Old 05-09-2012, 03:44 PM
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There is another thread going on about this now. The AMA and the WHO both consider alcoholism or addiction a disease. How some medical amatuers here on SR and IRL can come to the conclusion that it isn't a disease is mind boggling to me.

That said, if you are trying to get help for a loved one, recognition of disease or not is irrelevant. Get them help if they are willing.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:26 PM
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"It is a biological disease with a genetic component" says Dr. Drew.

But just so we stay safe, let's not forget that many pathological narcissists, sociopaths, borderlines, psychopaths, and some dangerous human beings become addicts.

So if we are hoping an addict will get clean and become a walking manifestation of the spiritual 12 Steps, we may be very disappointed.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:31 PM
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Yeah. As a reasonable person, now that I don't drink, I can attest that the effect of alcohol on me is nothing like the effect it has on non-alcoholic people. It's a poison for me. God Bless the people who can take it and leave it. I can't.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by dgillz View Post
There is another thread going on about this now. The AMA and the WHO both consider alcoholism or addiction a disease. How some medical amatuers here on SR and IRL can come to the conclusion that it isn't a disease is mind boggling to me.
Because they actually bother to read up the WHO literature and know that the WHO considers 'alcoholism' no such thing. It lists the existence of alcohol dependence syndrome which is not the same thing at all. Alcohol dependence is most certainly a genuine physical ailment with clear neurological markers, there is no doubt whatsoever about that. But there has never, ever been a definitive conclusion about why it happens, whether it has genetic factors, that it is a lifelong condition on a physical level (in fact the reverse is almost certainly the case as we are seeing more and more evidence of complete recovery in a large number of neurological studies).

As for Under the Influence, it is nearly 30 years old, ancient and obsolete in medical terms. The book includes nothing of the advanced neurochemical knowledge we currently have, nothing about the importance of the reactions in the GABAergic systems of the brain that result from alcohol abuse. The negative feedback loop between the A and B receptors of which has changed what we know about alcohol dependence immensely. And quite a bit of the medical science within the book has since been discredited. Why people are still reading it baffles me, as who among us would be happy with treatment form the early 80s if we had HIV, cancer, MS, etc? Precisely nobody I suspect. That's because medical knowledge and study is advancing at unprecedented levels and that includes knowledge of alcoholism.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:08 PM
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Originally Posted by KittyP View Post
Why people are still reading it baffles me, .
Hi Kitty,

Respectfully asking. I'm in the beginning of my learning process. Can you recommend a book that supersedes "Under the Influence?" That book did a lot to help me so I am certainly open to a more recent version.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:37 PM
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djayr - which "Under The Influence" book did you read? If you would let us know the author (I'm a complete newbie) that would help - a friend recommended a book called "Under The Influence" but it's by a writer who recounted her own experience.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:50 PM
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NewbieJ,

I believe he is referring to: Under the Influence: A Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism by James Robert Milan. It was written in 1984 which explains why KittyP wrote what she did.

I ordered it from Amazon as a download for my Kindle. Speaking for myself, that book helped me a lot to learn about the alcoholic.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:59 PM
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Thank you so much. I'm sure the science is outdated but the behavior/why's are always interesting to me.
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Old 05-09-2012, 07:44 PM
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Alcoholism is a disease. But it is a very anti-social and unpopular disease. I don't see cancer patients lie, steal, risk peoples lives driving, cheat, panhandle ect..... An active alcoholic is dangerous to society.
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Old 05-09-2012, 08:24 PM
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So if we are hoping an addict will get clean and become a walking manifestation of the spiritual 12 Steps, we may be very disappointed.
EnglishGarden,
You mean Anvilhead will not come to my house and make me some kind of royalty? With a golden sword? And angels singing?
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I must have more work to do. Becoming a walking manifestation will take a lot of work!
Progress not perfection.

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Old 05-09-2012, 09:28 PM
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Originally Posted by KittyP View Post
Because they actually bother to read up the WHO literature and know that the WHO considers 'alcoholism' no such thing. It lists the existence of alcohol dependence syndrome which is not the same thing at all.
Actually here is what the WHO says:

Alcohol dependence (also known as alcoholism or alcohol dependence syndrome) is defined as “a cluster of behavioural, cognitive, and physiological phenomena that develop after repeated alcohol use and that typically include a strong desire to consume, difficulties in controlling its use, persisting in its use despite harmful consequences, a higher priority given to alcohol use than to other activities and obligations, increased tolerance, and sometimes a physical withdrawal state”
So to the WHO, alcohol dependence syndrome = alcoholism. Here is the link for anyone interested. Page 21 is where I lifted the quote.

http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/p...ruprofiles.pdf
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:30 PM
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I did realize after getting into it a bit, that the book is 30 years old. But the science seems reasonable and it is extremely well explained.

I will reiterate, the book helped me.

I have been so angry and frustrated with AW, exasperated that she has made such terrible and destructive decisions which have defied all logic. Behaviors that go against her faith, core values, and what I know she really wants in this life.

At this point I have personally given up my home, my life savings, rental property, and my retirement plan in the process of legal separation (in order to buy AW's share of my family business to which she contributed nothing). I will be paying her thousands of dollars per month for five more years. I live in a one bedroom apartment while she lives in our nice house.

I have been in that place where so many of us has been: feeling trapped and isolated and frustrated, dreading the cost and complexity of divorce and wondering how it could possibly work.

But when the pain of staying finally exceeded my fear of uncertainty, I decided, what the heck...nothing changes if nothing changes. I made moves slowly but surely, one difficult step at a time, in order to regain my own sanity and a sense of control over my life. All the while praying, Lord help me.

So here I am. My new life. Friends and family supporting me and looking forward to me having the life I deserve. But guess what: I still love AW. I don't know how to turn it off. I have no interest in other women, in fact I wouldn't know what to do with someone else.

So I'm going to al anon, traveling and enjoying my new minimalist lifestyle, sorting all this out. I've quit drinking and smoking weed myself, working the program so to speak, etc. Reading SR daily because it comforts me.

And then one night, last night, I read this book, and it helped me.

I guess I am feeling grateful for a clear head, friends and family, God, and of course all of you strangers here on SR who absolutely understand what all this is like, better than anyone in my immediate circle. So thank you!
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:32 PM
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Thank you for sharing!

I'm going to order the book on Amazon right now. THANK YOU!

Originally Posted by djayr View Post
I was reading these forums last night when someone commented "I read all the books including Under the Influence . . .

So I downloaded the book and read about 200 pages into the wee hours of the night.

I really don't know why it's taken me 17 years to get my head around this, but all I can say is this book helped me. I would recommend it to anyone. The author talks about exactly what happens when a person drinks, and how alcoholics are just plain different as far as how alcohol affects them.

A's have this genetic, flawed alcohol processing system that makes them different physiologically than the other 90%+ of us.

He talked about the early stages, the middle stages, and the late stages of alcoholism -- and I felt like I was reading AW's autobiography.

I really came to appreciate what a trap this is for the A's, because they start drinking along with everyone else, and by the time anyone (including them) realizes there's a problem -- they can't stop. It is a nightmare and I'll bet not a single one could have ever imagined this would happen to them.

It also talks about how malnourished A's get and how their cells and blood sugar gets all messed up and basically how next-to-impossible it is for them to withdraw without serious medical help.

I have personally debated in my mind whether alcoholism is a disease and I have been pretty cynical about it. But I'll be darned, I have changed my mind.

My AW is sick. She has a disease. Her father is an alcoholic. The next time I hear an A or loved one of an A talk about "the disease", I'm not going to roll my eyes.

You don't have to agree -- I wouldn't have agreed a week or month or year or 5 years ago -- but for what it's worth, I read Under the Influence and I truly feel it helped me.

All the best...
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Spes View Post
Can you recommend a book that supersedes "Under the Influence?" That book did a lot to help me so I am certainly open to a more recent version.
That book would be "Beyond the Influence" written by the same authors, James Robert Milam and Katherine Ketcham, in 2000.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:58 PM
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The book I downloaded from iBooks is copyright 1981, "Under the Influence: a Guide to the Myths and Realities of Alcoholism". By James R Milam. The version I read says, "this edition contains the complete text of the original hardcover edition".

So yep, it's 30 years old!
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:00 PM
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I have a copy of 'Under the Influence'.
It really explained, in terms I could understand, just why I have had such a difficult time with alcohol.
It might be outdated, but it sure helped me.
I'm an alcoholic.
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:01 PM
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Loved your post so much, I am going to print it out and slip it into my copy of "Under The Influence." This my favorite book also, and it helped me understand so much.

Yeah, I'd sure say alcoholism is a disease. Here is the definition from dictionary.com...

dis·ease
noun
1.
a disordered or incorrectly functioning organ, part, structure, or system of the body resulting from the effect of genetic or developmental errors, infection, poisons, nutritional deficiency or imbalance, toxicity, or unfavorable environmental factors; illness; sickness; ailment.

3.
any harmful, depraved, or morbid condition, as of the mind or society:
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Old 05-10-2012, 04:59 AM
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Originally Posted by djayr View Post
I did realize after getting into it a bit, that the book is 30 years old. But the science seems reasonable and it is extremely well explained.
The science is definitely reasonable and very well explained for it's time. So was HIV research and treatment in the 1980s but absolutely nobody who is diagnosed with that disease would be happy with early 80s meds now, because the knowledge we have now compared to the knowledge we had then just don't compare for one tiny second. Biological science and medicine, while still very, very much in their infancy, have advanced at unprecedented levels in the last 3 decades.

Alcoholism is weird one, poll after poll of medical professional has shown that 75-80% of doctors still believe it is bad behaviour and nothing more and comments like 'I don't see cancer patients lie, steal, risk peoples lives driving, cheat, panhandle ect.....' prevail, so study on it is very mixed. In the past most studies focussed on psychological causes and effects and today many still do. This is understandable and necessary but doesn't paint the full picture. Books like UtI were quite ground breaking as they focussed more on the medical and physiological studies and their outcomes. Some of the book is still valid, for example the discovery that consumption of sugar was not a good way to deal with alcohol cravings as was previously taught and is still advised a lot.

However up until recently, and sometimes still, most physical studies found evidence of the damage caused by alcohol and the wrong conclusions were formed, that the damage was evidence of a pre-existing condition, rather than evidence of caused damage. There have also been a number of cases where studies were conducted on alcohol abusers brains without the same study being done on the general population and conclusions been drawn about any supposed anomaly found within the majority of the study group, when later studies have shown that the 'anomaly' is actual the norm for humans.

Originally Posted by Spes
Can you recommend a book that supersedes "Under the Influence?" That book did a lot to help me so I am certainly open to a more recent version.
In my experience no, I'm afraid not. I didn't have an easy time researching the physiological aspects of alcohol abuse as there is no easy to read collection of the most up to date findings and even if there was it would be out of date very quickly. Your best bet is to acquire a PubMed log in and trawl through there. When specific studies take your interest research them further, usually through the research department of the university/laboratory that conducted the study. And always look beyond that study to see if it's since been debunked in anyway.

It's not especially easy but it's cutting edge science that is something of a renegade in the medical community as there is a culture of contempt, dismissal and entrenched ideologies when it comes to this condition. On the other hand it's utterly fascinating (I'm a nerd) once you scratch the surface and in my experience very, very helpful as once I got a handle on the best information I could find that applied to my husband's situation I brought it to him and we ended his condition within 6 months.

My belief is that the studies on the GABAergic systems of the brain are where many of the answers lie but it's an ever changing field, so that could change.

Originally Posted by dgillz
Actually here is what the WHO says:

So to the WHO, alcohol dependence syndrome = alcoholism. Here is the link for anyone interested. Page 21 is where I lifted the quote.
I know exactly what the WHO says, I've read through numerous reports they've written on the subject, and then gone and read through the studies they've quoted and drawn their conclusions from. The WHO just state what alcohol dependence is and how it effects people. They define it as a cluster of behaviours and physical effects that occur because of long-term alcohol abuse, they do not give a cause for that initial abuse because a physical cause has never, ever been found. The idea that some people are just genetically addicted to alcohol is still just that, an idea, as it has not been proved. At the moment the cluster theory it most likely, people abuse alcohol for psychological reasons and the abuse of the substance rewires their neural pathways causing the physical addiction. The fact that decades after the addiction ends the neural pathways seem to return to normal supports that theory.
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Old 05-10-2012, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by KittyP
The WHO just state what alcohol dependence is and how it effects people. They define it as a cluster of behaviours and physical effects that occur because of long-term alcohol abuse, they do not give a cause for that initial abuse because a physical cause has never, ever been found. The idea that some people are just genetically addicted to alcohol is still just that, an idea, as it has not been proved. At the moment the cluster theory it most likely, people abuse alcohol for psychological reasons and the abuse of the substance rewires their neural pathways causing the physical addiction. The fact that decades after the addiction ends the neural pathways seem to return to normal supports that theory.
Great stuff. You obviously have some medical background, or you've done a lot more research than me, or both. But does this mean alcoholism is not a disease? Not trying to argue, I'd just like to understand more.
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