Is Alcoholism A Disease?

 

Surrender1 If you were to ask any person who is an alcoholic if they have a disease, they will not hesitate to tell you that no, they do not.

Now ask any recovering alcoholic if they have a disease and without a moments hesitation they will tell you yes.

There is much debate amongst people if alcoholism is a disease or not. It doesn’t fit the mould of a disease and most of the time we deny it exists.

  • Denial

Even though alcoholism has been recognized by the medical community as a chronic, progressive and even fatal disease, those who suffer from it sometimes refuse to admit they have a disease.

Even though alcoholism has some of the same characteristics of diseases. Alcoholism has a predictable course just like any other disease and comes with recognized symptoms also.

So what is alcoholism?

  • An Obsession

The most simple way to put it is that alcoholism is a mental obsession that causes a physical compulsion to drink alcohol. A alcoholic has no control over his urge to drink and the only way to stop that urge is to take a drink.

  • Progressive

Alcoholism also progresses overtime. You don’t start out automatically drinking 10 drinks a day, instead you start off with maybe 2 drinks, and then 2 becomes 3 drinks and so on. This happens slowly sometimes over the course of a few years and more often than not, you will never even realize when alcohol has taken over your life.

Many people are hesitant to call alcoholism a disease because the cause of the disease is alcohol dependence. It is not a germ or anything invades your body. Some could argue that alcohol is a toxin that enters your body and causes the disease. Not everyone buys that though.

To some of us alcoholism might just be an excuse to drink.

Medical View

However the medical field feels differently. Some doctors have begun to refer to alcoholism as “alcohol dependence syndrome”.

Many also state that it is a progressive disease and moves through stages.

  • There is an early stage, which is when it might take only one or two drinks to get the cravings to stop.
  • As it moves into the middle stage it takes more drinks to stop the cravings. Alcohol begins to have more control in the middle stages of alcoholism.
  • Finally in end stage alcoholism, an alcoholic has no control over his or her own life. Alcohol is calling the shots. Most alcoholics do not even know that they lost control as time goes on. This is why denial is a symptom that almost all alcoholics suffer from.

Doctors can diagnose alcoholism after a full exam that includes a behavioral evaluation and a medical evaluation.

  • A behavioral evaluation will look at your history, drinking patterns and even environmental issues like your stress level to determine what your alcohol use is.
  • A medical evaluation is when your doctor will look for physical symptoms of alcohol dependence. You might be submitted to tests to see if there is any neurological damage or any damage done to your organs.

Just as with many diseases, alcoholism can be treated and managed but there is no cure for it. You can not say you were an alcoholic but rather you are a recovering alcoholic.

by Jeff Stevens

For more information on how Alcoholics Anonymous helps recovering alcoholics a popular website that contains information and advice for dealing with alcoholism including information on what motivates teenage alcohol abuse.

See also;

Alcoholics can benefit from Al-Anon

Recovering alcoholics can benefit from Al-Anon

R.J. has been clean and sober and an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous for 20 years. He lives the Twelve Step program each day, one day at a time. He attends AA meetings faithfully, reads the literature, meditates, and asks his Higher Power for guidance. He has told his story many times and listened with loving acceptance to the stories of others, as AA members are encouraged to do. He thought nothing about addiction could surprise him at this point in his life and recovery.

Then he discovered his 20-year old son had a drug and alcohol problem. "I felt so stupid," he said. "I know this stuff, and it never entered my mind that my son was using. He was the good boy, the one who got straight A’s. He knows I’m a recovering alcoholic and that his mother (my ex-wife) is a practicing one. I thought knowing about us would keep him sober. But he got to a point where he seemed paralyzed; he couldn’t stay on track. One day I said, sort of in passing, ‘You act like you’re on drugs.’ He said, ‘I am.’ When I asked what kind and he said he’d tried ‘just about everything,’ I was stunned. I didn’t know what to do."

Not knowing what to do, R.J. did nothing the night of his son’s revelation except listen. "I told him I wouldn’t preach or yell, but I asked him if I could tell him when I heard him giving me the ‘standard’ addict’s lines like, ‘I have it under control.’ He said I could, and we talked until 4 a.m."

Next, R.J. sought help from others. His first impulse was to issue an edict telling his son not to come around until he got straight, but a counselor at work cautioned that things could get worse if his son felt abandoned, with no safe places or safe people to turn to. "She suggested I establish clear rules so he wouldn’t come here high or use here, but let him know that I love him and I’d do whatever it takes to help him when he’s ready."

When a long-time friend (also a recovering alcoholic) suggested going to Al-Anon, R.J. said he was "blown away" by the idea. Like many recovering alcoholics, he had always viewed Al-Anon as a Twelve Step mutual-help group for "them"–the family and friends of the alcoholic–and AA as the Twelve Step group for "us"–the alcoholics who affected their lives.

R.J. and his friend went to an Al-Anon meeting where they were the only men. He confessed that he was very nervous at first but said the familiar Twelve-Step meeting structure eased his anxiety. "Then I said, ‘I’m an alcoholic–the reason you’re here–but now I need help.’ It broke the ice, and they welcomed us with so much warmth and generosity."

Because it is not unusual to have more than one problem drinker in a family, it makes sense that recovering alcoholics can also be affected by another’s alcohol or drug use, and that they could benefit from the fellowship and support of Al-Anon. Except for one word in Step Twelve where Al-Anon has substituted the word "others" for AA’s word "alcoholics," the Steps of the two groups are identical.

"At AA we learn that we’re powerless over alcohol. At Al-Anon you discover that you’re powerless over others," explained R.J. He thought the Al-Anon members he met also gained by meeting two recovering alcoholics who embrace the same Twelve Step philosophy they do.

R.J. said it was a profound experience to view addiction "from the other side of the fence" at Al-Anon. "It struck such a chord when a woman there told me I’ve got my story, but my son is still writing his. I can tell him about my path and show him a path exists, but I can’t walk it for him."

Al-Anon meetings are held in 115 countries, and there are over 24,000 Al-Anon groups worldwide. For more information visit http://www.al-anon.alateen.org/.

Alive & Free is a health column that provides information to help prevent substance abuse problems and address such problems. It is created by Hazelden, a nonprofit agency based in Center City, Minn. "Copyright © 2003 Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved." Any other use of the Web site or the information contained here is strictly prohibited.


At Amazon; How Al-Anon Works for Families & Friends of Alcoholics

Detachment with love

Detachment with love takes on deeper meaning

One of the great gifts of the addiction recovery movement is the concept of detachment with love. Originally conceived as a way to relate to an alcoholic family member, detachment with love is actually a tool that we can apply with anyone.

Al-Anon, a Twelve Step mutual-help group for friends and family members of alcoholics, pioneered the idea of detachment with love. A core principle of Al-Anon is that alcoholics cannot learn from their mistakes if they are overprotected.

That word "overprotected" has many meanings. For example, it means calling in sick for your husband if he is too drunk to show up for work. Overprotecting also means telling children that mommy didn’t show up for the school play because she had to work late, when the truth is that she was at a bar until midnight.

"We used to call such actions ’enabling,’ because they enabled alcoholics to continue drinking," says Rosemary Hartman, supervisor of the Hazelden Family Program in Center City, Minn. "Today we use the word ’adapting,’ which is less blaming."

Originally, detachment with love was a call for family members to stop adapting, Hartman adds. But as Al-Anon grew, people misunderstood detachment with love as a way to scare alcoholics into changing: "If you don’t go to treatment, I’ll leave you!" Such threats were a gamble that fear could force an alcoholic into seeking help.

For years the concept of detachment with love got stuck there. In fact, says Hartman, people still call Hazelden to ask: "If the person I love continues to drink or use other drugs, should I leave?"

"My response is to ask family members to consider a deeper meaning of detachment with love," says Hartman. "This meaning centers on new questions: What are your needs beyond the needs of the alcoholic or addict? How can you take care of yourself even if the person you love chooses not to get help?"

Detachment with love means caring enough about others to allow them to learn from their mistakes. It also means being responsible for our own welfare and making decisions without ulterior motives — the desire to control others.

"Ultimately we are powerless to control others anyway," says Hartman. "Most family members of a chemically dependent person have been trying to change that person for a long time, and it hasn’t worked. We are involved with other people but we don’t control them. We simply can’t stop people from doing things if they choose to continue."

Understood this way, detachment with love plants the seeds of recovery. When we refuse to take responsibility for other people’s alcohol or drug use, we allow them to face the natural consequences of their behavior. If a child asks why Mommy missed the school play, we do not have to lie. Instead, we can say: "I don’t know why she wasn’t here. You’ll have to ask her."

Perhaps the essence of detachment with love "is responding with choice rather than reacting with anxiety," Hartman says. "When we threaten to leave someone, we’re usually tuned in to someone else’s feelings. We operate on raw emotion. We say things for shock value. Our words arise from blind reaction, not thoughtful choice."

Detachment with love offers another option: responding to others based on thought rather than anxiety. For instance, as parents we set limits for our children even when this angers them. We choose what we think is best over the long term, looking past children’s immediate emotional reaction.

In this sense, detachment with love can apply whenever we have an emotional attachment to someone — family or friend, addicted or sober. The key is to stop being responsible for others and be responsible to them — and to ourselves.

Alive & Free is a health column that provides information to help prevent substance abuse problems and address such problems. It is created by Hazelden, a nonprofit agency based in Center City, Minn. "Copyright © 2003 Hazelden Foundation. All rights reserved."


Seven Simple Steps (#8112)

Detachment: Seven Simple Steps (#8112)

Recovery for Friends of Sexaholics

S-Anon is a program of recovery for those who have been affected by someone else’s sexual behavior. S-Anon is based on the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous. We encourage you to browse our web site for information about the S-Anon program,

The Twelve Steps of S-Anon

The Twelve Steps of S-Anon are the foundation of our personal growth and recovery. The principles of the Twelve Steps are universal, applicable to all of us, regardless of our various beliefs.

When practiced as a way of life, these spiritual principles help us to meet and rise above all difficulties in our lives – not just those associated with living with or having lived with sexaholism. Here are the Twelve Steps we follow which are suggested for our recovery:

  1. We admitted we were powerless over sexaholism – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps reprinted and adapted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.


Recovery From Sexual Addiction

Don’t Call It Love: Recovery From Sexual Addiction


Al-Anon Helps Members Reach beyond their Fears

Families and friends of alcoholics can help find hope and help in Al-Anon/Alateen

Those who live with alcoholism often live in fear: fear of abuse, fear of anger, fear of trusting others.

Al-Anon Family Groups (including Alateen for younger members) is a source of understanding, help, and hope to families and friends of alcoholics. The following story, originally published in the August 2002 issue of Al-Anon’s monthly magazine, The Forum, illustrates some of the fears experienced.

Kathy’s story

My pattern of isolation began in childhood when my mother’s abusive behavior became a source of sadness and embarrassment. I coped by being a good little girl and keeping my feelings to myself. Years later, while I suffered from my son’s alcoholism, I withdrew again. When the pain became intolerable, I decided to try Al-Anon.

It was scary walking into a room that was full of strangers, so I put on my everything’s okay mask. Then the members began to share their stories. Everyone’s words carried such depth and honesty that I began to feel hopeful. I thought maybe I could let my guard down, too. Maybe somebody would finally understand.

Continuing to attend meetings, I confronted longtime habits of self-pity that kept me stuck in misery. It was pretty difficult to feel alone and sorry for myself when I sat with people whose experiences were the same or even worse than mine.

When I was little, I often blamed myself for Mommy’s anger. Later I felt somehow guilty about my son’s alcoholism. Al-Anon told me I did not cause the disease and that I could not control or cure it, either. The only thing I could change, I learned, was my own response. As I gradually let go of guilt, I felt a new sense of lightness and freedom.

Sometimes I still find myself sliding back into isolation, but now I have a choice. I can stay in a dark, lonely place, if that’s what I choose. Or I can keep coming back to this program, into the healing light of intimacy with my fellow travelers on this journey we call life.

(Al-Anon members maintain personal anonymity in print, on radio, TV, film and the Internet)


Hope for Today


Family Recovery for Alcoholism

Family recovery key to treatment for alcoholism.

Alcoholics and alcohol abusers attract more public attention, but their families and friends also suffer long-term effects from alcoholism-and their recovery may be essential to the alcoholic’s recovery, according to a leading researcher in the field.

"Alcoholism is a family disease. While it is important for the family to support the alcoholic’s recovery, it is also important for members of the family to get involved in their own recovery.

Family recovery decreases the chances that the children of alcoholics will repeat the pattern and engage in unhealthy relationships," said Robert J. Ackerman, Ph.D., cofounder of the National Association for Children of Alcoholics and director of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Training Institute at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are 18 million alcoholics in the U.S. More than 500,000 Canadians are dependent on alcohol, according to the Canadian Community Health Survey. According to commonly accepted health-care provider estimates, each alcoholic adversely affects the lives of an estimated four-to-ten people. The number of impacted American and Canadian family members and friends is between 74 and 185 million.

"CCSA and Al-Anon are working toward a common goal, to reduce alcohol-related harm to families." Perron added, "We commend the work Al-Anon has done for more than 55 years to provide support to families touched by alcohol dependency. " CCSA provides objective, evidence-based information and advice aimed at reducing the health, social, and economic harm associated with substance abuse and addictions.

For 55 years relatives and friends of alcoholics in Al-Anon Family Groups have shared experience and hope with each other in order to solve their common problems.

Al-Anon believes alcoholism is a family illness and that changed attitudes can aid recovery.


Perfect Daughters (Revised Edition)


Co-Dependents Anonymous

The Twelve Steps of Co-Dependents Anonymous

  1. We admitted we were powerless over others – that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and lives over to the care of God as we understood God.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other co-dependents, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

The Twelve Steps reprinted with permission of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.

Contact; Codependents Anonymous


The Invention of Self in a Twelve Step Group

Codependent Forevermore: The Invention of Self in a Twelve Step Group

PTSD and the 12-Steps

Applying the 12 Step Approach to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Powerlessness

On the surface, this idea seems a simple one for trauma survivors. You feel totally helpless and overrun by your trauma and your trauma symptoms. In fact, when you were traumatized [whether this was child abuse, a robbery, battery or an explosion…to name a few], you were helpless in the face of an overwhelming event.

Whether your trauma was last month or 30 years ago, you feel helpless in the face of your symptoms. You struggle with issues of control and mastery. You wish you could control your symptoms. And when you are alone, you wish you could go back in time and somehow prevent or stop your traumatic experience.

Applying the twelve-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous requires an admission of powerlessness that is quite different from being overwhelmed by the traumatic force(s) that shattered your being and sense of safety.

In this instance, you admit that you could not control what happened to you. Also, you admit that you cannot manage the symptoms you experience. You hit a bottom in your experience of your life as it is. So that you can become willing to take the actions suggested in the remaining steps.

In essence, the difference between your admission of powerlessness and the helplessness of your trauma is one of a willingness to take action. Trauma helplessness is passive. Recovery powerlessness is active.

This is a paradox. You admit you are powerless; so that you are able to take action.

Spirituality

Many trauma survivors have a problem with spirituality. In fact, you have one or more of the following issues with spiritual beliefs and a Higher Power concept.

  • Where was God?
  • What do I believe in now?
  • How do I reconcile a belief in God with what has happened?
  • How do I face the reality of my fragile life?
  • How can I trust God again now that I know bad things can happen to me?
  • I cannot forgive my perpetrator
  • I am lacking in my faith.
  • Why???
  • How can I believe in a Higher Power when there is evil and cruelty in the world?
  • How does God view suffering in the world?
  • What is the meaning of what happened?
  • I don’t feel safe anywhere.
  • My life no longer feels predictable
  • I am angry with God, is He angry with me?
  • I feel like God abandoned me.
  • I feel betrayed by God.
  • What is my relationship to God now?
  • I feel ashamed; God wouldn’t want me anymore.
  • I feel dirty; so, I cannot get close to God.
  • I feel distanced from the community now that this happened.
  • No one will ever understand.
  • Am I at fault?
  • I feel so powerlessness.
  • What do I believe in now?
  • How do I make sense out of what happened?
  • I no longer understand the meaning of life.
  • Where is there value in my suffering?
  • My perpetrator was never punished, what now?
  • I don’t feel like I belong anywhere anymore. Goodness doesn’t protect anyone.
  • How can I believe in a loving, all-powerful God after what happened? How do I resolve my feelings of guilt with a faith in a Higher Power?
  • I still feel God abandoned me.
  • It is difficult to think of God as a loving Father after what my own father did to me.

These are very deep questions. You have a right to this difficult struggle with ideas related to faith and belief in God. Your struggle doesn’t prevent you from working a 12-step program of recovery. In fact, being in this struggle is one aspect of working a 12-step program of recovery on your PTSD.

All that is required to work this aspect of a 12-step program is a willingness to face these issues. You do not have to believe in God to start working a program of recovery. What is needed is an open mind and a resolve to work through the spiritual damage done to every trauma survivor. Spiritual recovery from trauma comes when you make your peace with a belief in a higher power even though this awful trauma happened to you.

Moral Inventory, Defects of Character and Shortcomings

The easiest way for me to tell you how to apply the ideas from steps four, five, six, and seven to your PTSD is to tell you what this is not:

  • It does not include all the things your perpetrator told you to justify their behavior.
  • It is not anything told you by another person about yourself; especially those things that begin with the sentence: “The trouble with you is….”
  • It is not self-abuse.
  • It is not the toxic shame many of you feel
  • It is not blaming yourself for your traumatic experience.
  • It is not taking responsibility for another person’s bad behavior.

With these ideas in hand, you can safely use the AA Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous and the AA Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions to follow these steps and support your recovery from PTSD.

Twelve Steps

  1. We admitted we were powerless over our trauma and the effects of the trauma–that our lives had become unmanageable.
  2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves and the effects of our trauma on our lives.
  5. Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
  7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
  8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
  9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
  10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
  11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
  12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to survivors of trauma, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

Adapted from The 12 Steps of Alcoholic Anonymous

by Laura Russell, Ph.D.


A Medics Version of PTSD and Recovery

The Road Back From Hell : A Medics Version of PTSD and Recovery

The 12 Steps to Insanity

The 12 Steps to Insanity

  1. We admitted we were powerless over nothing. We could manage our lives perfectly and we could manage those of anyone else that would allow it.
  2. Came to believe that there was no power greater than ourselves, and the rest of the world was insane.
  3. Made a decision to have our loved ones and friends turn their wills and their lives over to our care.
  4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of everyone we knew.
  5. Admitted to the whole world at large the exact nature of their wrongs.
  6. Were entirely ready to make others straighten up and do right.
  7. Demanded others to either "shape up or ship out".
  8. Made a list of anyone who had ever harmed us and became willing to go to any lengths to get even with them all.
  9. Got direct revenge on such people whenever possible except when to do so would cost us our own lives, or at the very least, a jail sentence.
  10. Continued to take inventory of others, and when they were wrong promptly and repeatedly told them about it.
  11. Sought through nagging to improve our relations with others as we couldn’t understand them at all, asking only that they knuckle under and do things our way.
  12. Having had a complete physical, emotional and spiritual breakdown as a result of these steps, we tried to blame it on others and to get sympathy and pity in all our affairs.


Insanity Exemplified

Insanity Exemplified