Should We Call Alcoholism a Disease?

Should We Call Alcoholism a Disease?


Is alcoholism disease a valid theory?  Do you believe that people who drink way too much have a choice, and could just as easily choose not to drink?  Or do you believe that they have fallen victim to a real disease, one that they do not have control over?

Here is the revelation for me: I grew up as a normal child, and did not use drugs or alcohol for the first 19 years of my life.  And I have to admit that, thinking back to that time before I had ever experimented, that I believed that alcoholics were either stupid, selfish, or just plain crazy.  Not knowing what alcohol or drugs were or how they would affect me personally, I believed myself to be immune to the threat of addiction, and I also did not buy into the disease theory.

A couple of beers
Creative Commons License photo credit: Maya83

To be fair, I never really gave it much thought.  I did not have any family members who suffered from addiction.  So I never thought about it.  And when I did see reference to it, such as on a television program or in a movie or something, I would wonder to myself: “How could these people be so stupid, to let themselves become enslaved to alcohol?  How come they don’t see their problem and just avoid drinking altogether?  How stupid can they be?”

Well you can imagine my surprise when I woke up one day about 10 years later and realized that I, of all people, was a real alcoholic.

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As the saying goes, I did not give my permission for this to happen.  It was not part of my plan.  I had no desire to be addicted to anything.  But it just happened.  Alcohol swept me off my feet, it cured my social anxiety, it completed me in a way that I had never experienced before.  I was hooked beyond all measure; beyond all hope.  I was a true alcoholic.

If this can happen to me, it could happen to anyone. That is my point.  I don’t necessarily think of alcoholism as a disease, but in spite of whatever label you want to give it….I have it.  I have been sober for over 9 years now, but if I took so much as one sip from a beer, I would be off to the races.  Within 24 hours I would be back on hard liquor, probably buying a half gallon of vodka.

You can take a look around this website and see evidence that I am not particularly stupid or lazy (which was my only way of explaining alcoholism in my youth).  We don’t have to call it a disease, necessarily, but I definitely have a serious problem with alcohol.  And so do a lot of other people.  So it needs a label, to make it easier to talk about.

Regardless of whether or not you think it is a disease, you should seek help if you are struggling to stop drinking so much.  The label we put on it is not so important–what is important is that you live the best life that you can, without screwing it up with alcohol.


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