Fiction: It's an Addiction, not a Disease.
by Greg Adams
I am definitely addicted to alcohol and I suppose that makes me an alcoholic but I do not suffer from a disease called alcoholism any more than I suffer from a disease called 'nicotinism' because of my addiction to the nicotine in cigarettes and the other pleasurable benefits it brings, such as socializing with other smokers.
My wife says that I have gotten worse--as in angrier and crazier--as the years have gone by. I see this as the result of the cumulative neurological damage from excessive drinking compounded with natural aging. I've done the same sort of damage to my lungs and other organs by smoking.
I recognize that there are those who are addicted to alcohol or nicotine or both that find themselves unable to stop regardless of the horrific consequences but I regard that to be a function of just how addicted the person is to a given substance. Heroin, meth, cocaine, pain pill and other addicts have also found themselves unable to quit and many have died, too. Why aren't they called 'heroinaholics' and the like? Because they're addicts, that's why, not the victims of a mysterious disease that only a super natural power can arrest and everyone knows that.
For me to regard my alcohol addiction as a disease is to give it more power than it actually has, making relapse all the more likely. I have chosen to stop and I am able to do so because I can now see how to be happy without alcohol so I no longer "need" it to feel OK or to avoid realities I don't like. But if I choose to sit at a bar, I will probably experience craving--not from some mysterious force--but from stimulation of my brain by the powerful reminders there. It's like looking at pictures of naked women and becoming aroused. It's quite natural.