Is Alcoholism A Disease? An Illness? Is Addiction Learned?

Posted by Tony Cooper on

Is Alcoholism A Disease? An Illness? Is Addiction Learned?

Alcoholics are the ones who sleep under the doorway at night, the tramp who sleeps on the park bench with his brown paper bag or the old man that shuffles along home along the streets unshaved, unkempt, with his carrier bag held tightly to his chest at 10 am in the morning.

These images are the stereotypical worldview of an alcoholic. Alcoholics have lost nearly everything they had through addiction to drink; their wives, family, possessions, self-respect, all gone. These sad creatures are in the last stages of an addiction that is killing them. Can they help themselves? Why don't they stop drinking?

Why don't you say no? Why are you here? I'm sure you've spouted that “I'll never drink again” line many times. Yet you continue to drink and continue to suffer the consequences. The hangovers, the depression, the lost wallets and lost self-esteem.

You know that drinking like this is no good for you, but you still do it. You just haven't done enough of it yet to fall into the bottomless black hell hole and never be able to see the light of day again.

Drinking Alcohol Is An Inexorable March To Self-Destruction

The more you drink, the more you become accustomed to the effect, the more you drink to achieve the same result. Until that beautiful warm glow you feel after a couple of glasses of wine has morphed you into an incoherent, stumbling wreck. The only difference between you and our alcoholic friends above is that you haven't lost everything yet.

Casual or social drinkers usually have one or two drinks, and that's enough. Maybe once a week or twice a month. Problem drinkers have crossed over that line because they have succumbed to the pleasure derived from alcohol. It becomes used as a medication to soothe anxiety and worry that was created by drinking to relieve anxiety and fear. They drink to ward off anxiety about job interviews, or the soul-destroying loss of a loved one. They drink to mask their emotions because those feelings have become too painful to face up to in the cold hard light of day.

In the end, alcohol is the answer to all your problems. Had a bad day at the office? Have a drink to wind down. Had a good day at the office? Have a drink to celebrate. Lost on the horses? Have a drink to commiserate. Won at the bookies? Time to spend it all on a good drinking session. Every social event becomes an opportunity to drink. Then you begin to drink before the event to calm the nerves. Once this starts to happen, you've crossed over the line and have entered the twilight zone of alcohol abuse.

Just because everyone else around you drinks doesn't mean it's the right thing to do. In my early twenties, I always thought being able to stand at the bar for four hours was a badge of honour. Eight pints of beer later I'd walk off home and go to “sleep” only to repeat the same charade the next day. What was I thinking? It was not the right thing to do, but it was the easy thing, and everyone else was doing it. At least everyone else I knew was doing it because I met them all in the pub! I didn't have any friends outside of drinking culture.

In the end, alcohol becomes so prevalently used in your life to mask emotions, hide feelings and make you more “social” so that when you take it away, you feel naked and afraid. You've lived so much of your life under the fog of alcohol abuse that laying bare your soul to the world becomes an unthinkable act. That's what makes the withdrawal from addiction so goddamn painful.

I don't believe alcoholism is a disease. It's a decision you make to keep hiding your light under a bushel.

"No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light. The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore when your eye is good, your whole body is also full of light; but when it is evil, your body also is full of darkness. Therefore see whether the light that is in you isn't darkness. If therefore your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly full of light, as when the lamp with its bright shining gives you light."

Light is to be revealed, not concealed. Look down into your soul and try to find the person you are. Revealing your naked self is a difficult process. But to continue down the path that leads to only darkness and despair, is that not a harder choice?