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Alcoholism is a Disease, and Drug Addiction is a Choice?

by Rebecca
(Pittsburgh, PA)

Almost 10 years ago, after my son was kidnapped, I became a meth addict, which was an addiction. I chose to use, and I chose to fight it which was the hardest thing to overcome, especially since I did it on my own. By the definitions, shouldn't that also be considered a disease? You would think so, but for some odd reason, it's called an addiction.

Now I'm married to an alcoholic, almost 8 years now. His "disease" caused him to finally came to the point of him beating me mercilessly, resulting in him finally joining an alcoholic outpatient rehab, and attends AA meetings where he gets reminded that he has a disease and it's not his fault... poor, poor him and his disease that he was born with, or contracted by no choice of his own. Can anyone say COP OUT??? Admit that they all have the same addiction as someone who does cocaine. It's a choice and a weakness, it's NOT a tumor like cancer, or crippling like Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson's... people with those REAL diseases did NOT have the option to choose whether or not they wanted it. Even people that suffer from psychological diseases such as depression, bi-polar or schizophrenia were never given the choice.

Whether alcohol, pills or heroin... those that use them and can't stop or control themselves are called addicts who made the personal choice to use/abuse them. Once they become ADDICTED is when the brain and body craves it, or get sick from not having it, which can cause agitation, restlessness, and irritability. But having withdrawals that MIMIC symptoms of psychological diseases still does not give anyone the right to try and classify alcoholism as a disease.

The definition on for addiction is - A chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. Addiction is the same irrespective of whether the drug is alcohol, amphetamines, cocaine, heroin, marijuana, or nicotine.

I am tired of groups like AA teaching ADDICTS that they have a disease and it's not their fault. What they are doing is removing the responsibility from the persons actions, their choices, their addiction and their recovery allowing them an excuse to minimize the seriousness of their choices and behavior. I strongly and firmly believe that ANY addiction is most certainly a choice, and referring to it as a disease is only an excuse, a cop out, never forcing the person to face their addiction head on, always giving them a reason to blame their behavior on instead of themselves.

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Thank you for your share
by: Anonymous

I believe that alcoholism is a disease; it's the only way I've been able to accept and understand what's been going on with my body. However, I don't consider my disease to have yet progressed to the level of addiction. Understanding alcoholism as a disease also allows me to see that it is chronic: it never stops getting better (as in, it will never go away), and it never stops getting worse. I have moments of control over alcohol, and I have moments of loss of control. But I've not yet reached a point of needing a drink every single day (not yet anyway, and quite frankly, it's not a risk I really want to take). I accept that alcohol is a disease, but I do not use this an excuse to keep drinking. I use it as an excuse to get sober!

by: Anonymous

Thank you C-P for your comments, especially the part about powerlessness. We are powerless over what alcohol does to us, it does not mean we are powerless over our choices. We think we can manage. Alcoholism is the only disease that tells you do not have a disease. No one wants the disease and no one chooses the disease, but one can make a choice for recovery. But it's not easy. And for those who think it is easy, that someone should just be able to quit, take a look at yourself.

by: Anonymous

It's a disease. Why else would people continue to drink when it's hurting themselves and the people they love? Why else would they not recognize the harm they are doing? But just because it is a disease does not mean the person does not have a choice and it should not be a cop-out to harm others. In a 12-step program, a person learns to make amends for the harm they have done. If they are not making amends, then they are not working the program or they have not reached that part of their recovery.

Not a disease
by: Anonymous

I grew up with alcoholic parents, it is not a disease, it is a choice I seen them make every day.

I agree
by: Anonymous

Thanks for this article! I agree. I can't stand when people say alcoholism is a "disease".

Addiction is the Disease
by: C-P

I don't think the title of disease applies to alcoholism and not to drug addiction - the label 'disease' is supposed to apply to both, i.e. alcohol addiction/alcoholism and drug addiction. The idea behind why the concept of powerlessness was also introduced - was to highlight that an addict cannot control their addiction. In other words once they start drinking or taking that drug, they become powerless to control their using - unlike a 'normal' drinker say who can have a glass or two and then stop. That doesn't mean though an addict or alcoholic is powerless to do something about their addiction, i.e. get help and engage in the necessary remedial steps (recovery) to achieve a life of sobriety. That's where as an addict one needs to take responsibility for your addiction and do what is required to change.

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