There is much debate over whether or not alcoholism is a disease. Some say that it is a choice. The thought behind it is you decide whether or not to take a drink. You know before you ever take that drink that you are risking getting addicted to it. You have to make the choice every time that you drink to allow it to have power over you. You have the option to walk away. You have the ability to get help. Like any other addiction, you have the option to allow it to control you. The question is: Why should it be classified as a disease rather than a choice?
What is Alcoholism?
On the scale of alcohol problems, alcoholism is the worst. It is the inability to control the amount of alcohol that you consume. You cannot control your drinking habits. You have physical withdrawal symptoms if you do not consume alcohol. It is a true addiction.
What Causes Alcoholism?
In an attempt to understand whether or not it is a disease, you have to look at what causes a person to turn to alcohol. There are five common areas of life that cause alcohol to become a problem.
- Family History
If you have someone in your family that is addicted to alcohol, drinks excessively, or can’t control their drinking you are at a higher risk of becoming an alcoholic. The closer you are to them, the higher your chances are.
- Prior Addictive Habits
If you have had an addiction problem in the past, you could be at a higher risk of becoming addicted to alcohol. This is anything you were addicted to whether it is tobacco, drugs, or prescriptions. Your best bet is to abstain completely from alcohol.
- Social Awkwardness
The more socially awkward you are, the more likely you are going to reach for alcohol to soothe your nerves. This can lead to a more serious drinking problem. Alcohol lowers your inhibitions. It may make it easier to relax short term, but the long term damage can be irreversible.
Self-medicating to deal with stress is a slippery slope. You may start off just having one night. Your intentions maybe just to get one night where you aren’t stressing and worrying. That euphoria is short-lived. Not only will your stress still be there when you get sober, but the feeling of not having to deal with things can be addictive. That feel-good feeling can make you reach for the alcohol more often than it should.
Physical abuse, childhood trauma, and emotional abuse are all linked to alcoholism. The reason is that you do drink to forget. You drink so that you don’t have to feel the pain. You drink so you don’t have to deal with the feelings that come along with the abuse. In the end, you add trauma by using alcohol as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
What Classifies Something as a Disease?
A disease is classified as a condition that is not normal. It negatively affects the function or structure of a cell or organism. It is not due to outside injury. It has specific symptoms and signs. You can see it getting degenerative.
How Does Alcohol Fit into the Category of Disease?
Alcoholism follows an obvious sign of degeneration. It starts off as something that is fairly harmless. It changes the chemicals in your brain and body. You can see the physical symptoms. There are direct signs of alcoholism that creates its definition. An alcoholic has progressive degeneration in their body and mind.
Yes, it is true that alcoholism starts off by the choice to have that first drink. From the first drink, there are chemical changes that happen. No one chooses to become an addict. They don’t know how alcohol will affect them. Alcoholism is disease and you can track the progression of the disease. These symptoms may be hard to see within yourself, but you can see them within someone else.
Drinking literally changes your brain. It trains your brain in all aspects of your life. You choose where you will go, who you will spend time with, and what you will do all-around your addiction to alcohol. That makes it a disease.
Recovering from alcoholism is not as simple as not drinking. You have to go through the mental and physical symptoms of withdrawal. You have to retrain your brain. You have to deal with the effects for the rest of your life. That alone should classify it as a disease.
You need to seek medical treatment to detox yourself from alcohol. It is best that you are under medical supervision to deal with the symptoms that come along with having to go through detox. Often times this will require you to have medications to help ease your symptoms. Rehabilitation can take years. You never really recover because that temptation is always there. One slip can send you into a spiral that is almost impossible to get out of.
If you find that you are having trouble walking away from alcohol, can’t control your drinking, or need more help to ease off of it, then seek help right away. Many cities have facilities established just for drug and alcohol-related recoveries. There are funds available to help you get back on track. Don’t hit rock bottom before you reach for help.