I got some time to answer your questions early this morning. Sorry
about the delay but as you will see, they were not questions that I thought
could be answered quickly with a few words. Here they are:
i am sorry but i have a couple of questions.
please get back to me as soon as possible, thank you
I personally would consider alcoholism an addiction because when I was
drinking it was in reaction to some deeply held belief that it was not
possible to live life without alcohol and drugs. Which means I had
a compulsive psychological dependence on alcohol and drugs. I also
had a compulsive physiological dependence on alcohol due to genetic factors.
An alcoholic is born with a hereditary, genetic predisposition to addiction
having to do with brain chemistry. The factors that go into that
brain chemistry dynamic dictate that alcoholism is a progressive condition
- which means the way the alcoholic reacts to and processes alcohol in
his system changes and degenerates over time.
1. Why would alcoholism be considered
an addiction to you?
I believe that alcoholism is incurable - and that if I were to go back
to drinking after almost 16 and 1/2 years without a drink, my physiological
reaction to alcohol would be worse than it was when I quit because of the
progressive nature of the brain chemistry components of the disease.
There are different varieties of alcoholics. Some are daily, maintenance
drinkers - who may drink a little (or a lot) every day whereas some alcoholics
go long periods of time between drinks. Some alcoholics drink just
enough to "take the edge off" and may never appear drunk or have any overtly
negative consequences (i.e. drunk driving, losing jobs, etc.) The
consequences they suffer are emotional and spiritual, so do not often show
on the surface.
One of the major indicators that a person is an alcoholic in my opinion,
is that when they decide they are not alcoholic they have a drink to celebrate.
Some one who is not an alcoholic has no compelling
to drink - and most non alcoholics do not ever have to wonder if they are
I believe that many people may have a period where they have abused
alcohol in their lives - like late teens, early twenties - which does not
necessarily make them alcoholic. It is the history of drinking over
years that is indicative of alcoholism. It is the compulsive nature
of the drinking that marks it as an addiction.
This compulsive nature of an alcoholic's reaction to alcohol is marked
by the dynamic that once the substance is introduced to an alcoholic's
body it can set off a craving for more. That means that once in a
while, once a week/month/whatever, an alcoholic starts drinking with the
intention of having two beers and ends up drinking themselves into passing
out. This is a form of Russian Roulette that an alcoholic plays.
They may be able to control their drinking 90 % of the time, but they can
never be sure when that compulsive craving will take control - when that
happens they are liable to wake up in strange places not having any idea
what happened or how they got there or rather they killed someone on the
freeway the night before.
Some alcoholics go months or even years between binges. Some of
the most miserable people on this planet are dry alcoholics - that is,
alcoholics who are not drinking using will power, but are really miserable
because of it.
2. Why would alcoholism be considered
a disease to you?
I believe that a disease is a disturbance in a natural process - literally
dis-ease, a lack of ease, of harmony.
In terms of alcoholism, the first time that anyone ever came up with
a way of successfully treating alcoholism was when Alcoholics Anonymous
was founded and started treating alcoholism as a disease rather than a
moral problem or character flaw. Using the disease model of treating
alcoholism brought relief and a new life to millions of alcoholics long
before the AMA decided to classify Alcoholism as a disease in the late
60s. Since that time there have been a wealth of scientific studies
proving that there are genetic and hereditary components of alcoholism.
I also believe that the physical components of alcoholism are not the
most important factors in this disease. I believe that it is an emotional,
mental, and spiritual disease with physiological components. Just
treating the physical components is not enough to allow an alcoholic to
lead a happy, relaxed life. It is vitally important in my view to treat
the emotional, mental, and spiritual components as well.
I also personally believe that all physical disease is a product of
emotional, mental, and spiritual dis-harmony. And further that emotional
and mental disease is a result of Spiritual dis-harmony and dis-connection.
In my belief this includes hereditary and genetically transmitted diseases
- including alcoholism, which I believe are the product of many generations
of Spiritual dis-harmony and dis-connection. This is my personal
belief which you could read more about on my web site @ http://Joy2MeU.com
should you be so inclined.
3. In your own opinion do you think alcoholism
is a disease or an addiction, and why?
I believe that all addictions are a form of disease. Some diseases
involve addiction. It is not an either or question. We are
not talking about apples and oranges here - we are talking about apples
4. What have been the most cases
(having it being an addiction or a disease)?
As I said it is both.
As I was proofing these answer after posting them
on the expertscentral site, I realized that there was another aspect to
this question that I could have addressed - and may actually have been
more in line with what she was asking. Because she was asking specifically
about alcohol, I didn't think of this aspect until after I had posted the
answers. I decided against spending any more time on my answers for
that site but have decided to add the extra thoughts here.
And because life is unfolding perfectly - with
no accidents, coincidences, or mistakes - I have a reference to address
this aspect of the question that is just perfect. The very same night
that these questions came in, but prior to me seeing them, I was walking
through the living room while my roommate was getting his nightly fix of
the X-Files. I watch very little TV, and when I do it is usually
just for a few moments while I am eating, or is some event I want to see.
I have over the years had certain programs that I do get emotionally involved
with. I usually limit that level of emotional involvement to two programs
and the X Files is not one of them.
But as I was walking through I heard one of the
characters say something to the other that was a classic line. Scully
said to Moulder, "He saw those things because he was disturbed."
Moulder's reply was, "Ah, but did he see those things because he was disturbed
or was he disturbed because he saw them." My immediate reply was
to say, "That, is the question." (My Shakespearian training. ;-)
So, to paraphrase, the question here is:
Do people become alcoholic because they drink or do they drink because
they are alcoholic? And the next question after that is: Do
people become addicts because they take drugs or do they take drugs because
they have a genetic predisposition to addiction/disease?
I will answer both questions on a personal level
and then give a larger answer to both.
As I said, this may have been more of the intent
of the question the person was posing, but it did not register with me
at first because of my personal experience. I am a recovering alcoholic.
I believe - I know - that I was born with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism/addiction.
I got drunk the very first time I had the opportunity to get drunk and
had a black out. Many alcoholics do not experience black outs until
the later stages of their drinking. A black out is when someone loses
consciousness - some part of the brain quits functioning - but they are
still walking and talking and driving, and will have no recollection (or
only flashes of fragments of memories) of it the next day. (Having
had black outs is one of the strongest indicators of alcoholism diagnostically.)
That is what happened to me the first time I got
drunk and continued to happen with increasing frequency for the almost
18 years that I drank. It is what researchers are now referring to
as a Type A alcoholic. I am convinced that the only way I could have
avoided being an alcoholic would have been to never take a drink.
I also believe, that had I not discovered alcohol I would have killed myself
before I was 21. I was full of so much pain, was so terrified of
life because of the rigid, perfectionistic, black and white perspective
I had learned growing up - and was so full of toxic shame, so sure that
I was unworthy, unlovable, and truly a defective person - that I would
never have survived without alcohol. Alcohol saved my life.
Someone who is born with a genetic predisposition
to alcoholism finds relief in alcohol that they can't find anywhere else
- until they get into recovery. I can not tell you how many alcoholics
I have heard describe their first experience with alcohol as feeling ok
for the first time in their life. We all find ways to cope with the
trauma of life, an alcoholic drinks because he/she is an alcoholic. If
a person is not an alcoholic, then they find other ways - food, work, relationships,
So, my belief is that alcoholics do not become
alcoholics because they drank a lot for many years but rather drank because
that was the coping mechanism of choice for their physiology. I cannot
imagine someone drinking enough for long enough to get physically addicted
to alcohol, without the predisposition.
Now drugs, I am not sure of. There are drugs
that are very physically addictive - heroin or the benzodiazapenes, Valium
and such, to name only a couple - they cause a powerful physiological addiction.
And there are conditions where I could see someone starting to use those
very addictive drugs to combat physical pain or emotional trauma that might
not involve a predisposition. So, though I could say that alcoholics
drink because they have the genetic predisposition, I could not state that
categorically about drug addiction. And I could be wrong about it
in terms of alcohol also. Maybe someone suffering from enough pain
for long enough could use alcohol as a pain killer for long enough to get
physiologically addicted to it. I can not be sure. Some expert
huh? (I mention what I think of the term expert in the link to expertscentral
on my links page.)
The bottom line, and the larger answer, is that
it really does not matter. It truly does not matter if the chicken
came first or the egg. What matters is what can be done to help an
alcoholic or addict let go of their drug of choice and learn to live without
that crutch. I probably got a little flip with my answer to the persons
questions because it was such a codependent thing to do - splitting hairs
like that. Is it an addiction or a disease? Which is it more
often? I mean, is this someone intellectualizing and analyzing away
in order to not have to deal with feelings or what? So, maybe I was
a little irritated with the questions (because they are the kind of intellectual
nit picking that I did in early recovery. ;-) As I point out to you
all quite frequently, I am very human and capable of screwing up.
That is part of my job, to role model that it is ok to be human - it is
in fact, the only choice we have on this level at the moment (even though
we Truly are Spiritual Beings and not humans at all except temporarily.)
So, if I hear from the person again, I will make an amends for being flip.
It is all perfect somehow after all. ;-)
5. What is the effects on the person
themselves, family, and friends?
The effects on the person are fatal. Alcoholism is a fatal disease
if not treated. It may kill the spirit and heart many years before
it actually kills the body, but it does cause death. It causes great
dysfunction in the family that results in emotional wounds that are passed
on for generations.
Alcoholism itself actually has a pattern of skipping generations in
terms of its hereditary nature - but the emotional wounds inflicted on
someone who lives with, and especially someone who grows up with, alcoholism
leave scars that can totally control a persons life long after the alcoholic
The Adult Child of Alcoholic Syndrome, which I believe is the same dynamic
as the Adult Child of Dysfunctional Family Syndrome or Codependence, is
in fact a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or Delayed Stress Syndrome.
This is a disease in and of itself, and can produce psychological addictions
such as workaholism, religious addiction, sexual/relationship/love addictions
(which are really 3 different things), eating disorders (which
in turn then become physiological compulsions), etc. It can also
lead to depression, panic disorder, fear of intimacy, relationship phobia,
To an alcoholic his/her best friend is alcohol. No one is more
important to an alcoholic than alcohol - not family, not friends.
The more that family and friends try to fix the alcoholic the sicker they
get because their disease of codependence is progressing.
Just as it is impossible to Love someone enough
to make them Love themselves - so too, it is impossible to get someone
else sober. The more love an alcoholic is given, the more likely
he/she is to drink since she/he hates him/her self and does not feel worthy.
The most Loving thing friends and families can do for an alcoholic is to
quit enabling them by rescuing them from consequences. Tough love
with strong boundaries is Truly the most Loving thing that loved ones can
do for an alcoholic. This can be very difficult, because sometimes
the alcoholic's path is to die of alcoholism. (See my article about
my friend - Death of an Alcoholic.) If that is their path,
then there is nothing anyone can do to save them from themselves.
It is possible to do interventions on alcoholics/addicts.
I got clean and sober because of an intervention that my family did on
me. Ultimately, however, the person must choose to get sober them
self. No amount of intervention can save an alcoholic from them self.
The person must get willing to change, and no one can force that on someone
else. Often, it takes the shock of losing all of his/her enablers
to get an alcoholic to wake up to the reality of his/her life and become
willing to change.
(If you want to know more about enabling or intervention,
or anything having to do with alcoholism, the About.com Alcoholism site
is the best source I know of. You can search the About.com Alcoholism
section from my links page.)
6. What is the treatment for alcoholism?
There are numerous treatments that are now being tried for alcoholism.
Some are effective in treating some of the symptoms of alcoholism - but
in my belief none will really work without treating the core dis-harmony
which I believe is Spiritual.
In my opinion, recovery from alcoholism needs to treat the mental, emotional,
and spiritual components of the disease - and the most effective approach
is a Spiritually based program for learning how to live life. Alcoholics
Anonymous is, of course, the preeminent program for dealing with alcoholism
- and I believe still the best. AA can however, be problematic for
some people because of a lack of/resistance to dealing with and healing
emotional wounds that is sometimes found in AA. The Twelve Step Spiritual
Program in my opinion is the best approach to dealing with any addiction,
and most any disease. It provides a formula for integrating the Spiritual
into the physical that facilitates learning how to live life in a way that
can bring some happiness and peace into a difficult journey.
There are organizations now that reject the Twelve Step approach of
belief in a Higher Power - a rejection which I believe primarily
stems from emotional wounds caused in childhood by Spiritual abuse from
shame based religions. I will be posting a page soon that is going
to be called Spirituality for Agnostics and Atheists to address some of
7. What are the bodily effects
As I said, alcoholism is eventually a fatal disease. Drinking will
destroy the brain, heart, liver, etc. Ironically, alcoholics will
sometimes seem to age better than the codependents in their lives who try
to control their drinking. It is not at all unusual to see an alcoholic
who looks much younger than his/her spouse. (Alcohol
is a preservative you know.) The damage is still being done
on the inside however, even if it doesn't show on the outside.
And I want to make a point here, that like there are different varieties
of alcoholics, there are also different varieties of codependence.
All alcoholics are also codependent in my definition. Many of them
are however the other extreme from the traditional codependent who is involved
with an alcoholic - that is, many of them are counterdependent, which is
just a different form of codependence, a different type of behavioral defense
in reaction to childhood emotional wounds. The traditional codependent
is one whose psychological addiction is in focusing on others. I talk about
these varieties on my web site.
8. How/when was alcohol first developed?
Alcohol has been around as long as people have been. The earliest
people found ways to ferment different natural substances to produce some
type of mood altering intoxicant. I believe that there have also
always been some individuals that reacted differently to alcohol, and as
such alcohol abuse has been known throughout history. I believe Alcoholism
as we know and understand it started to really evolve as an addictive disease
with the changing of the fermentation process from a completely natural
process to one that was augmented with the use of refined sugar.
This happened in different parts of the world at different times, but has
been going on for hundreds of years now. This again, is my opinion.
9. What do you think should be done to
reduce the amount of drinking in the United States of America?
Drinking is a symptom not a cause. Of course, symptoms become causal
and create more effects - as in the treatment of alcoholism, where it is
very important for the person to stop the symptom of drinking before they
can really address the causes.
But drinking is a symptom of a dysfunctional society. This society,
and all cultures on the planet in my belief, are dysfunctional because
the planet has evolved as an emotionally dishonest and repressive, Spiritually
hostile environment because it has been based on false beliefs about the
meaning and purpose of human existence. This was caused by planetary conditions
which I talk about in my book Codependence: The Dance of Wounded Souls
and on my web site.
If alcohol were suddenly no longer available, people would find some
substitute - because the great majority of people on the planet do not
know how to live. If you took away all of the substances and agents
that people use to numb themselves so that they can endure life - alcohol,
drugs (both illegal and legal), sugar, caffeine, nicotine, television,
obsessions and compulsions of any variety (religion, exercise, computers,
gambling, sports, relationship, sex, etc.) - the world would deteriorate
in violence and chaos as all the repressed emotional energy exploded to
A society that believes that Prozac, homelessness, and billionaires
are a natural part of the design of life as humans is a really sick society
/ a dis-eased culture - a very wounded bunch of human beings.
If everyone started working a twelve step program - had a Spiritual
awakening and learned how to integrate Spiritual Truth into physical existence
- then we would stop destroying ourselves, our neighbors, and the planet
we live on.
I believe that a Transformational healing process has begun on the planet,
that this Truly is a new age, where we are learning to heal ourselves and
the planet. But it is a process that involves each individual healing
themselves and learning to Love self. We are all connected to everyone
and everything - the more we start waking up to that, healing the emotional
wounds that have been inflicted upon us by dysfunctional civilizations,
and tuning into the Truth of who we really are and why we are here - the
healthier and more Loving society will become.
That is from the Cosmic perspective. From a personal perspective
we need to focus on accepting the things we cannot change (other people
and life), changing the things we can (our own attitudes, behaviors, and
our relationship with our self), and accessing the clarity and wisdom to
know the difference between what we have the power to change and what we
From the tone and urgency of your questions, I would guess that you
are a very capable, caring, and controlling codependent who is intent on
fixing anything that is "wrong" in your world. You probably even
grew up in an alcoholic home, and are now involved in a relationship with
an alcoholic. (It is quite normal for Adult Children who grew up
in alcoholic homes to marry alcoholics.) I would guess that my answers
to your questions are probably not what you were looking for - but I would
also venture to guess that they are what you needed. You probably
will not recognize that right now. It may take a while for you to
accept some of the things I have said here - or perhaps you never will.
I do thank you for the questions however, because I am going to post these
answers as a web page on my web site - and I am sure that there are many
people that will benefit from them.
I will of course not mention your cyber name. I thank you for
this opportunity and hope that you are open to hearing what I am saying.
My web site again is http://Joy2MeU.com if you are willing to explore my