A friend on Face Book, asked this question on her wall today.
QUESTION OF THE DAY; I WANT ALL YOUR OPINIONS ON THIS ONE……………ALCOHOLISM ……….Is it a disease or a lifestyle choice ???????????????? I want your opinion, not the answer you get on googling it………………..
My answer was.
I can speak on this from personal experience of being a drunkard for over 12 years. My answer may tread on some people’s toes for a variety of reasons; but that is ok; because for some people, it is confronting.
Firstly, I think some people are genetically predisposed to addictions more so then others. I don’t think it is a disease, at least, not in the traditional understanding of what a disease is. It’s not viral. It’s not organic, and it can’t be spread through the normal ways diseases normally are. ie, you can’t catch alcoholism through sitting next to someone who is.
I don’t think it is a lifestyle choice either. One may start out drinking as a life style choice – but soon the drinking takes over and one ensures their lifestyle becomes centered around their addiction.
My own personal experience was that I was a bit of a introverted social outcast. My high school years were messed up, moving to a country high school, 1/2 way through year 7, where the students stayed in groups according to the friends they made at their local primary school. The only other way to make friends was to be good at sport… (Which I wasn’t)
For me, when I left school and started working (age 16), we would go to the pub for a counter meal and have a beer with it. I started to drink at the pub on my own of a weekend, and found a social life and acceptance over a beer and game of pool an easy one to do. However, soon the 1 or 2 drinks gave way to more. I found myself increasingly putting my self in the way of finding ways to get drunk.. I was a shy person.. drinking overcame my inhibitions and I would be the first to ask a girl onto the dance floor, and dance.. but, at the end of the night, I would be a blithering mess, vomiting, passed out, or other.
By now, I was addicted to it. My body, and my mind, my brain needed the effects of the drink. In many ways it also numbed my emotional pain. Whilst drunk, I could open up and have a deep and meaningful with a mate – only the next day to say, what was that crap we were talking about, it was piss talk… The truth was, we were talking about real stuff, that needed talking about. ( I should add also here that I did suffer some abuse as a child and my identity was a little messed up also.)
There were times when I tried to give it up.. I think the longest I went was for 2 weeks…and yes, I went through the shakes during that time. I also ended up developing a huge gambling addiction. I would pour my money into the pokies, the casinos etc.. and my gambling addiction became as bad as my drinking.
However…(and here is the part that may tread on some toes) on the 17th of March, 1997, at 10:30am, I became a born again Christian. I accepted the offer of forgiveness of my sins, and the love of God poured into my heart, flooded my inner being, and in that time I was made into a new person. The thirst for the drink was taken away in that very minute.
But, I was still heavily addicted to gambling. And for months afterwards, I hadn’t taken a drink, but gambled compulsively. One night, after wasting my money down the pokermachines, I cried out to God on the way home.. I need your help. I can’t do this on my own. The next day at church, the pastor said to the congregation, if anyone wants prayer, come down the front, and I will pray for you. I went down the front, he said, tell God what you want, and I said “God, I want to be free of this addiction of gambling.
The minister prayed for me, and I was thrown backwards heavily to the floor. Some voices in my head told me, Craig, get up off the floor, we have to go. I told them, I was going to stay where I was and they had to go… 3 shadowy figures rose up out of my body, and walked out the church. A few minutes later, I was up off the floor, unharmed and free of that gambling addiction.
I was thirty at the time and am now 47. Since then, I have not been drunk, and have rarely gambled.. I don’t like it and the thirst has gone. Yes, I have other issues in my life, I have other problems, and my life is far from perfect. But, I thank God he freed me from the insidiousness of those addictions.
Here is my thoughts. Addictions are a method of covering, numbing our internal pains, or a method to procrastinate doing what we need to do. They can be psychological in nature.. driven by the need to perform, to numb, to excite.
They can be organic in nature… drugs of every description affects our bodies, and as we start to withdraw and detox, our bodies fight against it, and crave what we have fed it.. (recently, I have given up all added sugar to food and drinks.. and for a week, i was crawling up the walls)
But, they can also be spiritual (demonic) in nature. Perhaps it starts out with a whisper, take a drink, (or other drug) it wont harm you, it will help you… or it may be our own curiosity gets us into problems..or it could be, that we deliberately try and numb our pain because of stress and trauma…and eventually a demonic force takes over.
So, is it a choice.. in a way yes.. but, in the midst of the addiction, we have no choice. Is it a disease.. no, not in the traditional understanding of disease, but, it can have some mental health issues either driving it, or mixed up with it in some way.
My own experience was that Jesus Christ healed me of it. I got to the place of no return. I become aware and admitted I was helpless in its grip. The addiction was too powerful for me. And this is part of the success of AA. They admit they need the help of a higher power and ask for its help.
In the 17 years that I have been free of it… I have prayed with others and seen them instantly set free, and been delivered from the demonic forces driving them. Others, have had to battle their addiction, become accountable at AA, but, through prayer and the help of God, have had to strength to walk free of it