They have made me contemplate again whether I believe alcoholism to be a disease from which we suffer or a lifestyle choice we perpetuate.
Until now I've sat on the fence about this. To date I've not formed an absolute opinion one way or another because it's difficult. But now it's time I got off the fence.
I do not believe alcoholism is a disease. I believe it is a choice. While it shares many features and patterns of diseases, the bottom line is that without alcohol, there is no alcoholism. It's true that some of us are more pre-disposed to having a problematic relationship with alcohol than others, but similarly some of us in that same group choose not to pursue the relationship.
- Despite the affects of alcohol being progressive, removing alcohol halts this progression. Not so if a patient with lung cancer stops smoking.
- Though multi-faceted, problems always begin with voluntary intake of alcohol. This is not so with other diseases.
- People become alcoholic because they drink alcohol. Some people get terrible diseases for no apparent reason.
In some ways the discussion is purely academic. Does it really matter whether problems with alcohol meets some specific criteria that define it as a disease process? Should we take the literal meaning of the word and agree that alcohol causes us dis-ease?
In my opinion, the only reason it matters to make the distinction, is to be clear that we have a choice. We can choose not to drink. We can choose to stop, to avoid, to say no thanks. We are not powerless, helpless or unable to battle against a relentless driving force. We just believe we are and those thoughts influence our actions.
To choose the correct actions we have to manage our thoughts and the first step is to re-assert that we are in control and we alone decide what goes into our own bodies.
Think as if you are a strong person and refuse to be a passive victim.
I await your conflicting opinions with great anticipation.
p.s. (and yes, I think the same premise applies to obesity, but I'll keep that for another day).