Alcoholism: disease or choice? - page 16

by HonestRN 42,839 Views | 164 Comments

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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    Quote from lael
    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.

    i was a psych nurse and worked on the addictions unit, the forensic unit, and a
    couple of other units in a state psych hospital for nearly two decades.

    none of the patients wanted to be there or to have the diseases and/or addictions they had. no one ever says as a nine year old, "when i grow up, i want to be a fairy princess or a schizophrenic or a meth addict or an alcoholic or an astronaut..."

    lael, are you a nurse? i'm not trying to be difficult. you just seem to have forgotten what you learned about psych and addictions nursing. very very few
    people are inherently evil and malevolent.
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    This debate , and others like this one, can be whittled into the age old debate: will vs predetermination. Predetermination of course makes those exempt from taking responsibility for actions, but in the case of "diseases," frees individuals from taking ownership for changes in health and the latent functions and dysfunctions of these changes.

    Did I, or McDonald's make myself fat?
    Did I, or my socioeconomic climate make me a drug addict?
    Did I, or my addictive biostructure make me an alcoholic?

    I think we can all be intelligent enough to agree on the fact that not one or two but multidimensional factors in human life are contributing players on how or why we develop the way they do. Completely eradicating the notion of predetermination for its annihilation of the debate itself is another item we can agree on. Thus, I feel most of us can agree on the fact that yes, we are all born differently, and yes, we are to some degree influenced by factors that in some way can be classified as forces that exist beyond our control. For example, I was born Mexican American--this automatically predisposes me to a myriad of life paths that correlate with statistical observations that seem to trend uniformly across the board. We see trends for a reason. Raw statistics, whether they be medical, academic, political, social, or historical are objective reflections of how and why things occur the way they do. This phenomenon ALONE serves as a negating response to nay-sayers that believe "I and I alone am solely responsible for everything and anything that amounts to being me."

    I see lots of emotionally charged posts from individuals refusing to accept alcoholism as a disease. I also tend to agree with those who compare diabetes and alcoholism, because to me they manifest themselves similarly in our society. I however find it tragic that there are so many societal infractions regarding the diabetic epidemic like the blame on food control but there are very little for alcoholism--I believe this may be due to a discrepancies between the aforementioned populations. It also doesn't help that alcoholism tends to lead to altered behaviors that exist as violent, self destructive, and in many cases illegal--I see how easy it is to enforce the idea that those who suffer from alcoholism should not only take responsibility for their condition but also make progress towards rectifying it.

    At a young age I saw what alcohol does to a person, now that I am 26 I see even more how much this habit/condition deteriorates not only the individual but those around them. I do however believe that alcoholism is a disease that comes about from a combination of predisposed factors like personality/disposition, but more so from socioeconomical influences. I think in order to truly disect and understand alcoholism, diabetes, and many other disease we need to stop obsessing over the physical "proofs" that help but avoid the obvious "greyness" of the issue.

    Saying alcoholism is a disease is not a "free pass" that excuses the individual for whatever caustic behavior they exhibit. I find ignorance in that mentality the same way I find ignorance in the mentality that the overweight are to blame for their condition.
    For every person suffering from a preventable disease that is linked to correlative/causitive habits, whether it be consumption or something or riskiness in behavior there was a point in their life when it was, to a degree [some more than others] an event of free will or responsibility (do I order the big mac and fries or not, do I try beer for the first time or not, do I have unprotected sex or not)--and even then that breaks down to an even more complex division in culminating factors like: how much does one know about nutritional livelihood, how much does one know about the addictiveness of alcohol, how much does one know about STD protection)--and even that breaks down to an even more: (how much was I taught about or exposed to regarding diet, drugs, sex)--and that breaks down even more to (what baseline does my cultural exposure or immediate sphere of influence have regarding diet, drugs, sex) etc.....etc....etc...This can go on forever.

    I'm all for debate, but I feel anyone who points the finger and says "you, and you alone, are solely responsible for who and what you are" needs to think a little more about the human condition.
    unreal, tewdles, mj<3, and 4 others like this.
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    There is a great deal of good research about the genetics of addiction. Does not matter if you are raised in it or not, if you have a genetic predisposition chances are much higher. As we learn more about genetics and brain chemistry I am sure more people will be less likely to argue as forcefully.

    Anyone can be a drunk. It takes a great deal for a person to admit to the disease of alcoholism and stop proving him/herself to be a drunk. It is like the person who has DM and takes care of themselves versus the one who ignores the disease and then is a poster child for the losses DM creates.
    Gideon Gyamfi, tewdles, and sharpeimom like this.
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  5. 0
    Quote from lael
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    how wonderfully over simplistic!

    when my husband comes home, the very first thing i'll tell him is that he
    could have avoided being diagnosed with type-1 diabetes at age eight if he'd
    only rationed those evil chocolate bars...

    same ol' fallacious logic!
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    Quote from Lael
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    If it were only that easy and simple But we all know it's not.

    I can see that going over wonderfully with my patients..."just don't drink anymore and you'll be fine." Problem is for them, thanks to the disease of addiction, the choice not to drink isn't one that they can readily stick to.
    jackstem, aknottedyarn, and sharpeimom like this.
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    The only decision an alcoholic ever makes is the decision where they started to drink in the first place, and the decision to seek help and stay sober. The alcoholism is purely a disease. No one would choose to be an alcoholic.
    aknottedyarn, Meriwhen, and sharpeimom like this.
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    Being the daughter of an alcoholic mother, I see alcoholism as both a choice and a disease. Alcoholism runs on her side of the family. Both her parents drank as well as all her siblings. I've seen first hand some of the horrible things a person will do to get their fix. We have tried to get her help through counseling, taking her keys so she doesn't drive, taking her to AA and church AA groups. So far, nothing is working. Why? Because she is choosing not to stop. I don't believe she will stop until she has a change of heart or something drastic changes in her life. We can support her through it all but ultimately she has to choose to want to stop. Although I say she is choosing to drink, I also see the psychological and physical dependency side of alcoholism. If she doesn't drink for a few days, she starts having withdraw symptoms like shaking, depression, irritability.. her body is craving it. It doesn't matter what the consequences are, she will do anything to get her hands on a few dollars and get her fix. I'm not sure if it is actually a disease but I like what someone said in an earlier post. "Who would really choose to be an alcoholic?" I'm sure my mother didn't wake up one day and choose that. It happened over many years of abuse, which I think leads to alcoholism. But the choice to get help and stay clean is something I think non-drinkers just don't understand and probably never will.
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    mj<3, I am sorry your other has this dread disease. I would be equally sorry if she had DM and did not monitor blood sugars. The choice is not to have or have not the disease. The choice is what to do about it. In addiction the natural thought processes to stop after one drink, or avoid drinking have been essentially burned out. It takes a huge blow to make the mind react. We call that hitting a bottom. You cannot take her to AA, or any of the things you have tried.

    You did not cause it, you can't control it and you can't cure it. Known as the 3 Cs in Al-Anon. Go to meetings. As hard as it is allow her to hit a real bottom and don't try to cushion it. Yes, it is risky. She could die. AA teaches jails, institutions and death as the only three outcomes of continued use. Many alcoholics hit at least two of the three before it gets through 'a bottom means you can't go back there'.

    I understand a great deal about alcoholism. All the knowledge in the world will not stop the disease. i do not have it, but only by the Grace of God. I drank, and still do socially. I have no ill effects but I deal with people daily who have the effects over and over again and continue to drink.

    We have no idea where abuse ends and addiction begins. After the fact we can suspect certain areas of life but there is no one day that an hour glass is turned and addiction is present. This means we cannot prevent it unless the person never drinks. Some people choose this.

    This is a diease and a deadly one. It kills much more than the one body. Go to Al-Anon. Do not become another "collateral damage."
    any hugs and well wishes.
    HonestRN and tewdles like this.
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    Starting down the path is a choice. Remaining on it may or may not be. As one develops physical and psychological addictions, it is tougher and tougher to go in a different direction. That said, I don't accept addiction as a catch-all excuse for every aberrant or criminal behavior that people engage in. At some point there has to be personal accountability.
    schoolnurse09 likes this.


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