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Quote:

"Faith is not a good reason to believe in any one thing. It's a bad reason to believe in everything. Faith is not synonymous with any one idea; it is synonymous with any strongly held idea, true or not. But one thing faith is not synonymous with is a logically justified idea."

August 6, 2010

Alcoholism is NOT a disease!... My thoughts...

By scientific definition any behavior is not a disease. And saying alcoholism is a disease is misrepresenting a vast amount of the people afflicted with alcoholism, since only a small population of alcoholics have a genetic predisposition to addictive personalities. If we consider alcoholism a disease then we must begin to consider homicide a disease too.

Only a small portion of those who have an addiction to alcohol have it because of a genetic predisposition to addictive personality. Addictive personality can be a disease, a genetic one. But alcoholism is only one of a million ways it can manifest, therefore alcoholism is a form of the manifestation of a disease sometimes, it's not a disease itself. And still only about 20% of alcoholics have a genetic predisposition.

Just as only about 20% of murderers have a genetic predisposition to homicidal violence, but we don't consider homicide to be a disease. We consider the genetic markers which lead to some murders to be a form of disease, not murder itself.


Also, the only people who ever consider alcoholism to be a disease or either alcoholics who learned everything they know about alcoholism from a 12-step program, or people with friends or family who are alcoholics who learned everything they know about alcoholism from their friends/family who in turn learned everything they know about alcoholism from the 12-step program... The concept that alcoholism is a disease is derived from the 12-step alcoholism treatments, not from alcoholism related science.

Every male on my dad's side of the family is an alcoholic on one level or another. I'm not. I've never had a problem with alcohol. This leads me to believe it's not a genetic predisposition to addictive personality within my family. But even if it was, alcoholism isn't their disease. APD (addictive personality disorder) is their disease. Alcoholism is just their addiction of choice, it's the way their APD manifests itself.

If we are to consider alcoholics to be stricken with a disease, then we must consider those who color code their closets alphabetically to be stricken with a disease as well. Because even though some forms of OCD are a disease, and some forms of genetically predisposed addictions are diseases, we must now consider their manifestations to be diseases too. Simply to make the alcoholics happy... from now on, if you're afraid of water it's now a disease. Who cares that only a small portion of people who are afraid of water actually have rabies, we must consider the manifestations and symptoms to be diseases as well. Who cares if we misrepresent those who are simply afraid of water for non-genetic reasons, we must make the alcoholics happy.

It's time people learn a bit of science and apply it to their lives and the things they say. It's time we stop considering the rare symptoms of a disease to be a disease within themselves. 20% of alcoholics have APD to which they have chosen to apply towards alcoholism rather than food or heroine. And about 5% of people with a fear of water have rabies. But we do not consider fear of water to be a disease. The symptoms of a disease are not diseases in their own right, especially not when a vast majority of those people with that affliction do not have the genetic/disease form of the affliction. 80% of alcoholics simply like alcohol and took it too far. It's chemical, not biological.

9 comments:

elisaphant said...

That really needed to be said. And, even more, it needs to be heard.

SgtHaile said...

Thank you. Spread the word.

Chun said...

I am not sure if I agree with this argument in its entirety... I do agree that behavior addiction is a loosely defined phenomenon and not all that well understood. I also do agree that the religiously tinted "12 Step Programs" are not all scientifically sound. However, alcoholism, when defined as a "disease," has validity in a physiological perspective.

First of all, not all diseases have a genetic origin as a predetermining cause. A disease is simply a physiological process where certain biological systems (cardiac, renal, vascular, immune, neurological, etc) in the body cannot perform its functions in a normalized manner. It can be caused by internal or external factors, from genetics, trauma, toxins/poisons, to simple environment factors such as overheating... Out of the disease that have genetic causes, some have the genetic expression inherited, but many also have genetic expressions altered later in the life cycle by intrinsic or extrinsic factors. The world of biological diseases is complex and vast...

In particular to this argument, substance addiction can be defined as a biological disease because cell genetic expression can be altered with the exposure of the substance, and several biological systems can be changed to the point that physiologically dependency on the substance becomes a reality with very real physiological withdraw symptoms. Prolonged alcohol use downgrades GABAa, dopamine, and NMDA receptors, and withdraw can produce not only central nervous system symptoms such as seizures, delirium, and convulsions, but also cardiac symptoms such as heart failure, which all can lead to brain damage and death. So, I argue that alcoholism is indeed a physiological dependence disease of substance addiction.

We are not at the point where we have sound evidence pointing addictive personalities by way of cause and effect relationship between certain predisposed genetic make up and certain affinity to certain substance addiction and dependence. Many already suggest criminals who commit types of violent acts have brain differences from those who do not commit these types of acts. We just do not understand the exact pathway and mechanisms for the differences in brains, and we certainly cannot tell which has a cause and effect or simple a correlative relationship, or even identify what is inherited, internal, external, at what stage of life cycle, etc... However, alcohol dependency as a physiological disease is quite well documented...

Chun said...

One more thought... Behavior is sometimes the result of a disease if the behavior is induced by physiological causes... For example, prolonged and excessive exposure to alcohol to the point where cell genetic expression is altered, when static neurotransmitter receptor downgrade occurs, the unpleasant physiological withdraw symptoms will dictate behavior. As a result, the physiologically induced behavior itself is the first step in the breakdown and mal-functioning of multiple biological systems, which in itself is a disease process.

Don't get me wrong here... No one understands why certain individuals will drink to the point of transient biological system breakdown (intoxicated) or to the point of prolonged and static biological system changes (physiological addiction.) The initial factors can be many combinations of social, psychological, random chances, or possibly genetic causes...? Who knows? This initial behavior in itself is not alcoholism as defined as an addictive physiological disease. However, once there is physiological addiction, then the behavior is no longer free willed but dictated by physiological needs to avoid physical withdraws... Then, at this point, the behavior can be defined as a physiological disease.

SgtHaile said...

When an alcoholic says "Alcoholism is a disease" he does not mean that in a psychological sense. In the way in which they mean it, it's not true.

Chun said...

I actually think many alcoholics do not understand the nature of disease in the first place, whether it is in a physiological or psychological sense... The AA program has brain washed many for a long, long time, and done so without much support from scientific evidence. The fact that many give in to a supernatural force such as "God" is likely a sign of desperation and poor understanding of how they got to that state in the first place. Therefore, the description of alcoholism as a disease maybe used for reasons other than a clinical and objective description of a physiological process, such as an easy explanation for their state so to be less burdened with guilt and responsibility, or just a tool to be socially bounded with other alcoholics for psychological support. It would be difficult to tell what an alcoholic means when they say it is a disease unless one has an in depth conversation with the actual person using the term... I would think the answers would vary greatly from subject to subject.

SgtHaile said...

Their misconception about their own alcoholism stems from a misconception about what a disease really is. And it's not because they're naturally ignorant. It's because they've been misinformed by people they're supposed to be able to trust. AA lies to people.

Anonymous said...

By this logic, drinking bleach, a toxin, can also be a considered a physiological disease due to it's unavoidable corrosive effect to internal tissues, damaging effects to the nervous system and the brain. H2O2 (bleach) also inhibits dopamine uptake. I can imagine, as with many other chemical dependencies, once the body has become accustomed to regular consumption of bleach over an extended period of time that the person would also experience physiological withdrawals.
Much like someone cutting sugar or caffeine from their diet, yet those addictions are not thrown around as diseases.

In my eyes alcoholics are selfish, my mother is an alcoholic and for the first few years of my adult life I took in her footsteps. Deciding to quit drinking was relatively easy, all it tool was a genuine and determined switch of thinking, I quit cold turkey, had minor physiological withdrawal symptoms which only lasted a short period of time and now have as much as a 'healthy relationship' one can have with occasionally ingesting a drug.
Point being, I did not look for justification or excuses which would allow me to continue such a selfish, hedonisitic habit/way or thinking or water a budding victim mentality, I took full responsibility for my decisions, actions and their consequences.

She however has taken no steps to overcome her problem, despite the fact she also gets verbally and physically abusive on the substance and how that affected myself and younger brother growing up. She uses the term disease as an excuse, much in the same way she parrots 'her genetic disposition to alcohol addiction' as an excuse, despite no one else in our family having any kind of addiction problem in the present or past. She blames everyone else for her decisions, the blame as to why she drinks constantly changes onto the whichever person unfortunate enough to be target of her alcohol-induced rage or as a tool to switch focus from herself and her problem onto the person airing their concerns and grievances with her. My younger brother was actually born with a disease and I cannot exclaim enough how insulting to his lifelong, never-ending battle, that such a phrase is thrown around onto something that can be stopped anytime by the 'sufferer'.

People may argue with me that no one 'sets out to become an alcoholic', but I believe by making the decision to consume and continue to consume alcohol the consequences of it 'becoming out of hand' are also your responsibility. It is your responsibility to be aware of the consequences of your own actions. When would you ever teach a child that the consequences of their own actions are not their own responsibility? I see this 'alcoholism as a disease' theory as inherently flawed and one that should be taken back to hypothesis state and re-evaluated.

This is all coming from a past alcoholic, and no, I do not still consider myself as one because I overcame the selfish way of thinking and addiction, I will not go back down that road as such a thing is, and always has been, up to me and completely under my control.
I am a living example.

Anonymous said...

http://www.baldwinresearch.com/alcoholism.cfm

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