Alcohol is a drug. Alcohol is the drug of ethanol. It is the psychoactive substance or ingredient in alcoholic beverages.
Alcoholism is a chronic 3-fold progressive incurable disease. The language about this disease is very important.
[expand title=”The Disease”]
A Disease is:
- A condition of ill-health that has definite signs and symptoms
- A disease has a cause that may be known or unknown.
- A disease has a prognosis (i.e. the probable outcome(s) of a disease) that may be known or unknown.
The primary symptoms fall under the simple headings Physical, Mental and Emotional. Some also use the heading Spiritual with Emotional. The symptoms of this Disease get progressively worse over time and with continued alcohol or drug use. This is simply evidenced by watching any person suffering from this disease. Over time, the person suffering from alcoholism will experience worsening symptoms and behaviours and will experience regular crises related to their alcoholism.
Crises are another common symptom of this disease. Each crisis is an opportunity for the alcoholic or addict, to get help. A crisis might include any or all of the following and many more examples:
- losing a job
- accidents – minor or major
- family saying “we’ve had enough and we’re leaving”
- physical crisis might include:
- other major withdrawal symptions
- getting arrested
- waking up in an unfamiliar place after a blackout
Physical: Every part of the body is affected by the alcohol or drug. In particular all the major organs are damaged, some organs more than others depending on the drug of choice. Poly drug users tend to be more affected because of the cumulative impact of the range of drugs, on the body.
- Physical Compulsion to drink or use
- Feeling sick and hungover
- Using alcohol or drugs and getting intoxicated when that was not the intention
- Withdrawal symptoms
Mental: The mind is a very valuable human asset. It is sensitive to the impact of alcohol and other drugs. Primary symptoms include:
- Personality Change when drinking or using
- Denial – not accepting the reality of the outcomes of drinking or drugging
- Obsession to get alcohol or drugs
- Poor concentration
- Short term memory loss
- Long term memory loss
- Lost capacity for abstract thought
- Guilt & shame
- Loss of self-respect
- Loss of self-esteem
- Self Pity
- Loss of Faith
- Loss of concept of God or Higher Power
- Profound sense of hopelessness
Cause: There is NO known cause for this disease. Why some people have it and others don’t, we cannot say for sure. So we can only speculate about the cause. Is it because of what happened to you when you were a child or when you were growing up? Or perhaps it was caused by some other reason? We do know that many alcoholics and addicts have one or both parents who also suffer from this disease and we do know that others have other relatives with this disease. But this connection has never been more than speculation.
The real question is “Does it Matter?”. If you suffered from any other debilitating disease, Cancer for example, would you care about the cause before you get treatment or would you speculate about the cause once you were getting the right treatment? The cause does NOT matter. What matters is that you correctly diagnose yourself and get help.
Prognosis: We don’t have to speculate about the prognosis. We know what happens to sufferers of this disease if you don’t get help.
Recovery is possible for YOU – – – Recovery will happen for YOU but it requires YOUR effort. Sometimes the process looks like this. Recovery – a return to a normal state of health, mind and or strength – a remission from the symptoms of Alcoholism / Addiction. All the available evidence suggests that the sooner you identify if you are an Alcoholic / Addict and start a Recovery process – the more likely it is that you will be able to sustain, enjoy and thrive in that Recovery.
- Intervention (Detoxification) – choose to not drink or use One Day At A Time
- Rehabilitation program – learn about your symptoms and understand your Disease
- Community based ongoing support. The only viable long term community support is available through meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous and the self-help programme – Meetings are free and are on every day – somewhere close to YOU. Meetings are available in countries all over the world because Alcoholism / Addiction doesn’t care about your country of origin, your financial status, your religious beliefs, your politics. This is a Disease remember!
You can access a range of counsellors, psychologists, pyschiatrists and private rehabilitation centres. These can be great in the short term. But any professional help that you get is ONLY available at a specific time and for a specific time, usually an hour once a week. Who can you call at 1am when you can’t sleep and all you can think about is picking up a drink or drug? Members of the Twelve Step fellowship groups will give you phone contacts that YOU can call at all sorts of hours. Recovering members know what you are going through and can share their strength, when you need it.
Sober – Free from alcohol and/or other drugs. Not affected by alcohol or drugs.
Sober also means well balanced, level headed, serious, sensible, steady, self controlled. “Sober” is a symptom of Recovery.