Alcoholism: disease or choice? - page 15

What is your opinion; is alcoholism a disease or a choice? Please provide your rationale or empirical support of your belief.... Read More

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    Alcoholism is disease . . . that comes with a lot of choices.

    The magnetic attraction that compels certain people to crave alcohol, no matter how much damage it's doing to their bodies and their lives, is not something they decided to acquire. Most of them would gladly agree to have that fierce and ferocious appetite removed. This is the part we call a disease. Some folks find it easier to think of it as a condition. Like it or not, it's a very large part of who they are.

    But the story doesn't end there.

    Those who have that condition face many choices every day. And yet, the dozens of choices they face boil down to a single, solitary decision--will I or won't I drink?

    Being married is another condition. Unlike alcoholism, you do have a say about whether you enter into that condition, but once you take those vows, you're married. And yet, acting married and staying married involve a lot of choices along the way. Will a man invite an attractive female colleague out for a drink alone because the thought of it gives him a thrill? Will a woman engage in an intense online friendship with a man and tell him things she used to reserve for her husband? Flirtation fills the airwaves. Opportunities come knocking. The choices we make determine the lives we lead.

    Being married and staying sober both require saying no to temptation and replacing old (single or alcoholic) behaviors with new ones. They may mean making new friends and letting go of relationships that pull in the wrong direction. During rocky times, it can mean staying true to the new goals one day--or even one moment--at a time.

    They are both a once-and-for-all decision that require that vow to be honored over and over again.

    Setting limits for people whose lives are out of control can be a good and healthy thing. The impact is even stronger when it's done with kindness and without condemnation for the person. But the drinkers still have their own choices to make, and they may never decide to stop drinking. That's sad, but it comes back to the reality that they are compelled to drink until and unless they want sobriety more.

    Alcoholism is a disease/condition. Sobriety is a choice.

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    I still think drinking and doing drugs is a personal choice. IMO calling it a disease is just another way to put them blame elsewhere instead of taking responsibility for one's actions. Seems like alot of so-called diseases these days are like that. Just a scapegoat for people.
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    see, to me, it is sort of the opposite. There is treatment, IF you refuse the treatment, ......
    instead of "it just is the way i am, i can't change.....
  4. 1
    Quote from Lael
    I still think drinking and doing drugs is a personal choice. IMO calling it a disease is just another way to put them blame elsewhere instead of taking responsibility for one's actions. Seems like alot of so-called diseases these days are like that. Just a scapegoat for people.
    Do you choose to disagree with healthcare authorities over all diseases or just this one?
    sharpeimom likes this.
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    This one especially, but similar things like in the mental health area are questionable to me.
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    I would suggest you learn more about neurology and neuro chemicals.

    To think that there is a choice about having mental illness is confusing to me. The research is overwhelming. Evidence based practice tells us a great deal about mental illness. Chemicals, not your opinion, are the reason for mental illness. Providing assistance for the brain to get the right chemicals or adjust the rest to the new normal comprises much of the treatment.

    To drink methyl alcohol knowing that blindness is the consequence but the compulsion to use is overwhelming is not the enjoyment of overindulgence.

    Addiction is as real as diarrhea. When you have a real case of the runs I suggest you decide you will not expell any feces and will not cave into the desire to run to the bathroom. Perhaps instead of this use of self will and failing self control you might try a medication to stop the symptoms. That is similar to dealing with addiction. One needs to allow the receptor sites to heal over so the compulsion to use is lessened, same as Imodium decreases the desire to run to the BR.

    We are learning more about the brain everyday. it will be a challenge for you to get caught up with current knowledge let alone grasp the new stuff coming out. In the mean time it is not helpful to those who suffer with these illnesses to have to deal with the attitudes you are projecting, even if that is not exactly how you feel.
    VivaLasViejas, sharpeimom, and nursel56 like this.
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    Well please explain your expert knowledge of these "diseases" to the victims of violence and their families. Like the shooting that took place in the CO movie theater recentl. I'm sure their families would be happy to hear this guy who shot 70 people is not at fault. He didn't have a choice right? No, it's a mental disease that made him do that I'm sure. Interesting that he was studying neuroscience..... Meh, I'm sure he will plead insanity and people will fall for it.
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    Lael, how often do you think people are not charged or tried for a crime because of a pre-existing mental illness? I'm pretty sure most people would say Charles Manson, Ted Bundy, and Dennis Rader are/were mentally ill. Are they sitting in their living rooms right now enjoying life?

    A physiological basis for behavior tendencies isn't negated by the concept of responsibility for a crime.
    VivaLasViejas likes this.
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    Having a disease (or a condition, if you prefer) doesn't mean you don't have any choices. It means you have lots of choices!

    Please, understand that the attraction to drink (or drugs or food or whatever) is the only part you don't get a choice about. All the other matters of daily living are loaded with decisions, and there is no free pass to indulge and blow holes in people's lives. There are no excuses for bad actions. None. There are reasons, because there are reasons for everything, but explanations are not excuses.

    Alcoholics need consequences, not condemnation and they need them for actual behavior, not because they have a craving for drink. "If you are acting drunk when you come to visit, I will not let you in the door because I don't want your nieces and nephews to see you this way," is much more effective than, "You disgust me."

    Alcoholism isn't a choice, but sobriety is.
    Last edit by rn/writer on Jul 24, '12
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    for my alcoholic grandfather, there were indeed consequences to be faced when (and if) he drank.

    1. he didn't get to sleep in his own bed because grandma would banish him to his parent's house until he was
    sober again.

    2. he didn't get to see his two beloved boys again until he "was himself" again.

    3. his dental office would close up and remain tightly locked until all signs of his impairment were gone. that
    was grandpa's rule and he was bound by the decisions of grandma's and his assistant's opinions and judgement.

    4. he didn't get to see his grandchildren, whom he adored, in later years, unless he remained sober.

    5. he had a gastric ulcer caused by years and years of heavy binge drinking.

    6. he died of oral cancer along with stomach cancer, which are not good ways to die.

    he would go for years -- sometimes for decades -- without any alcohol, then the alcohol in some of the products
    in his office would begin to call out to him. then he'd be off and running again! he'd go back into rehab and come
    back his "sober and aa going" self, but unfortunately, despite his best intentions, it never lasted forever.

    was he a bad man? no. a weak man? no. derelict? nope. a sick man? yes. no different than if he had been
    diabetic and sneaked to the soda shop for lots of hot fudge sundaes.

    another analogy would be the defective neurological gene i inherited that caused an aneurysm that was hidden
    from the mri to rupture and cause a cva. the very same gene that killed my triplet brothers born at the same time as i was, in infancy. to
    me, the gene that predisposes one to alcoholism, is a similar sneaky gene, because you can only know whether it
    is carried in your family line but not know which specific babies will have the disease until it appears.

    my dad didn't drink at all after his frat boy days but his brother is a very unpleasant, obnoxious, loud,
    alcoholic. did my dad carry the gene? i don't know. i don't even use the "made-for-adults" dental rinses
    because many contain almost as much alcohol as a standard drink. i use the pedi formulas -- and not because
    i love the taste of bubble gum. once in a great while, i'll cook with alcohol.

    a disease. usually controllable, but not always, and, yes, sometimes there are relapses... as with any disease.
    unreal, VivaLasViejas, and aknottedyarn like this.


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