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SMART says alcoholism is not a disease

Old 12-05-2009, 11:07 AM
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SMART says alcoholism is not a disease

Hey I'm fairly new to SMARTRecovery and I noticed in their literature that they avoid the term "alcoholism" and do not consider it a "disease" but rather maladaptive behaviors. I see their logic, not wanting people to just fall back on "oh I have a disease I'm helpless; there is no cure." And instead see their drinking problem as bad behaviors they can change with work. But I've also read that science has isolated the gene for alcoholism and I know it passes down from generation to generation, including my own. I don't know what to think. I'm not sure it even matters so much as you stay sober.

What do you all think?
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by ClayTheScribe View Post
Hey I'm fairly new to SMARTRecovery and I noticed in their literature that they avoid the term "alcoholism" and do not consider it a "disease"
How does the dictionary define disease?

Originally Posted by ClayTheScribe View Post
I'm not sure it even matters so much as you stay sober.What do you all think?
For a real alcoholic, it doesnt.

sign me,

basIam, a RecoverED alcoholic (as that is how AA suggests I describe myself)
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Old 12-05-2009, 11:27 AM
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Three generations of alkies in our family. Sounds less like a behavior in our family.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:39 PM
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I recently re-read Addiction and Responsibility by Seeburger. I'm not sure I picked up on this idea the first time through but on this read I came across some of the most informative idea's on the disease concept of addiction that I have ever encountered.

I'll be brief in this post as I have some affairs to tend to but I'll post again with some more detailed information soon.

The first thing to keep in mind when speaking of the disease concept of addiction is that there is not one, universally accepted concept. Another, and SMART would fall into this group, is that there's much debate over whether a disease concept should be used at all. Generally speaking these critics see addiction as a behavioral disorder. Still yet another camp, see addiction as a moral failing.

Seeburger's contention is that one cannot answer the question "is addiction a disease" with a yes or no answer. All three views seem to offer certain insights into the nature of addiction and responses based on all three views can be effective given the right context. He also points out that a lot of the disagreement on the matter often reduces to rhetoric. If a more holistic view could be developed or even mere dialogue between the competing views and their champions, we could really start to make progress in the treatment of addiction.

I tend to agree.
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Old 12-05-2009, 12:52 PM
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It is...it isn't? What really matters is getting and staying sober.
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Old 12-05-2009, 01:31 PM
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I thought it was an allergy ?
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Old 12-05-2009, 04:50 PM
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Personally I see addiction as a brain disease or disorder depending on my mood that day. But what really matters to me is: dose the definition of addiction help or hinder my addiction treatment. As long as what I understand about addiction is reasonable to me, what others understand about the definition of addiction or alcoholism has no bearing on my treatment efforts.


I too have recovered from the major symptoms of active addiction.
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Old 12-05-2009, 05:06 PM
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Originally Posted by ClayTheScribe View Post
... But I've also read that science has isolated the gene for alcoholism and I know it passes down from generation to generation, including my own. I don't know what to think. I'm not sure it even matters so much as you stay sober.
http://www.soberrecovery.com/forums/...7226-thiq.html
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:03 AM
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IMO people believe what suits them. I personally do not believe alcoholism is a disease especially a spiritual one. I have seen numerous people do as you describe...they throw their hands up and declare defeat over this "disease". The bottom line is and always has been we are all in control of our actions. It takes hard work to change our behaviors...that does not make alcoholism a disease.
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Old 12-06-2009, 07:40 AM
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A disease does not have to be something you "catch" like TB or measles. The American Medical Association says alcoholism is a disease. So does the UK equivalent. That's good enough for me. The fact that some people throw up their hands and say "I can't help it, I've got a disease" and don't seek recovery is unfortunate. Many others - mainly those who are in AA - find the concept of "powerless" to be a source of strength. This is a paradox, admittedly.

Diabetes is a disease that, like alcoholism, can be controlled (in most cases) with behavior. If someone who is a diabetic fails to watch their diet, or if they follow every instruction to the letter, they are still diabetic.

I see no appreciable difference with alcoholism.
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Old 12-06-2009, 08:47 AM
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I found that my problem was a behavior problem. I don't have any kind of disease. I was just a bad, bad boy.
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Old 12-06-2009, 11:27 AM
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I personally don't think it matters if it's a disease or not. I know my father's father was an alcoholic, my dad wasn't, as far as I could ever see, and both my brother and I have had problems with alcohol. What matters most is getting treatment whether AA, Lifering, SMARTRecovery, Rational Response, or something else. And no one method is better than another if they help someone. I just wanted to get people's response on whether or not they thought it was a disease, thanks...
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Old 12-06-2009, 12:01 PM
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Clay, I agree. It makes no difference really since blaming 'it' helps nothing. Action is the key. Maybe the classificaton might help with some Docs and how to process claims of hospital time etc... but for the one needing the help it matters not IMO.
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Old 12-06-2009, 06:56 PM
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Originally Posted by dgillz View Post
Diabetes is a disease that, like alcoholism, can be controlled (in most cases) with behavior. If someone who is a diabetic fails to watch their diet, or if they follow every instruction to the letter, they are still diabetic.

I see no appreciable difference with alcoholism.
I think the difference is that diabetes can not ALWAYS be controled with behavior changes. Often it can. Alcholism (or whatever you want to call it) can ALWAYS be controled with behavior change. If you don't drink, it fails to be a problem. Now the way that we accomplish that behavior change is the tricky part. There are many different ways to get there. Everyone should use what works for them. Sometimes it's a bit of trial and error to get there, but if you keep at it long enough, you will usually find a solution. Take care.
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Old 12-06-2009, 07:29 PM
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I'm pretty sure that alcohol abuse/addiction will eventually be classified as a disorder, rather than a disease. It doesn't really meet the scientific classification of a disease in the traditional definition of disease model, but there are definitely physiological components to addiction (i.e. seratonin and GABA uptake receptor malformations in the brains of those who have "issues" with alcohol). But the same physiological changes happen in people who become addicted to caffeine, but we don't call caffeine addiction a disease. I suppose the argument could be made that the combination of the physiological changes in the brain accompanied by psycho-sociological and maladaptive relationship changes could make a strong argument for classification as a disease. But I just don't get how spirituality has any play into a medical disease model.
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Old 12-06-2009, 10:14 PM
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basIam, this is a forum to discuss secular recovery programs.
12 Step Programs are off topic for this forum and posts discussing 12 Step Programs will be removed. Please use the Secular 12 Step Forum for positive topics on Secular 12 Step Recovery.
Clay, from the front page of SMART(bold mine):

SMART RecoveryŽ helps people recover from all types of addictive behaviors, including: alcoholism, drug abuse, substance abuse, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, gambling addiction, cocaine addiction, and addiction to other substances and activities.
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Old 12-07-2009, 06:22 PM
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I think an interesting thing to point out is that something like SMART (which I'm not yet familiar with) may be of help to a wider range of people than the kind of program which is not suitable to discuss in this section of the forum. It probably helps people who may not have - or yet have - or may be uncertain as to whether they have - or doctors or counsellors are uncertain as to whether they have - the 'allergy' component, as well as people who do, as far as I can deduce. It presumably helps people who are doing the kind of program referred to, at the same time, as far as I can deduce. Like Tyler says behaviour change is the key either way or both ways. Any means to improve our lives by getting off the drink, if it's wrong for us - that is g-r-e-a-t !!!

I'm a great believer in what I call ballpark language. I put the most compatible interpretation on it possible. Like Salparadise quoting Seeburger (whom I hadn't come across) while this is far from being just rhetoric, the two viewpoints can coexist in a wider scheme of things. Some guys who unfortunately couldn't see described an elephant as a (warm blooded ) snake, a rope and a wall. All of them were right.

My experience showed me I did have the allergy component so I bore the responsibility to abstain and also to investigate anything that would help me continue to abstain, and the second part of this responsibility I several times stalled in, leading to my lapsing in the first (abstaining). I also experienced its progressive nature. The other kind of program may go to more depth on some issues but this kind of tool may cover more breadth of issues. Hence what one does based on the two "different" visions is probably compatible & complementary in practice, in my view as a newcomer to SMART concepts. In so far as in some ways I was acting as a 'bad boy', behaviour changes beckon.

I'm going to look out a SMART meeting as soon as I can and meantime can say that I have already been doing the cost benefit analysis (seemingly one of the best known features of SMART) at least in my head for 3 and a half years now, and benefitting thereby. What I know of SMART so far appeals to me for practical rather than ideological reasons.

Last edited by Found; 12-07-2009 at 06:34 PM. Reason: blunder
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Old 12-07-2009, 07:07 PM
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hmmm, I dont think I have an allergy or a disease. I don't think I need treatment. I use to do a bunch of meth cause it was fun, then it wasn't so I quit. I use to smoke (not sure why), then it was gross so I quit. I used to smoke pot and take other peoples scrips, but I get drug tested at work now. I use to like to drink, and then I learned what can happen if you get too drunk, and now I'm not going to risk going there again.

I know for a fact that growing up, I learned a certain set of coping skills. Numbing was a big one. I am now interested in learning other ways of living, and specifically sober, spiritually connected ways. I am looking forward to Alera's Smart meetings, as we are in the same town. I also enjoy the meetings at my alano club. I meet lots of interesting people there, and learn much that can be applied to my new chosen way of life.
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Old 12-08-2009, 05:11 PM
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My alcohol addiction was tied in with my depression for the longest time...it's hard for me to separate the two.

I've been sober for a handful of months, but I still have addicted patterns. The food I eat and how much...and time spent on the internet. I always have to be repeating something....more like repetition with a little variation. And a little is never enough...no matter what I'm doing. *shrug*

I remember being this way most of my life. I don't expect it to change. I haven't been able to change it. The only thing I've been able to do is to stop drinking.

I suppose what I'm saying is that in my experience it's not only about behavior. Clearly something is going on in my brain and whatever is happening isn't limited to alcohol.

This is not about making excuses, but rather acknowledging the existence of a condition and learning to live with the limitations in a healthy way. That's how my depression is, too.
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Old 12-09-2009, 06:23 AM
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I know what you mean Bam, both when I am drinking and when I am sober, I exhibit other addictive or obsessional traits and I don't know if that can be changed.

I think the obsessional acts constitute the behaviour that needs to be modified, rather than the individual addiction it shows up in.

For me, at the moment, I am perfectly happy to transfer my obsessional traits (using distraction techniques) onto less harmful pastimes.

In the past few months I have been sober and I have also been spending a stupid amount of time online, probably more time than I spent drinking (surfing the web doesn't make you pass out ), and while this is not harmful behaviour, as such, it certainly isn't conducive to a normal life.

Now that I have realised that I have simply transferred my behaviour I can work on spending less time online and getting some balance into my life.

I honestly think that this tendency of mine to just doing too much of whatever it is that I enjoy is in no way a disease.

Not sure if this makes much sense lol I'm just putting some ideas out there.
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