Though cautious regarding the medical nature of alcoholism, AA has let others voice opinions. The Big Book states that alcoholism "is an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer." Ernest Kurtz says this is "The closest the book Alcoholics Anonymous comes to a definition of alcoholism." In his introduction to The Big Book, non-member William Silkworth said those unable to moderate their drinking have an allergy. Addressing the allergy concept, AA said "The doctor’s theory that we have an allergy to alcohol interests us. As laymen, our opinion as to its soundness may, of course, mean little. But as ex-problem drinkers, we can say that his explanation makes good sense. It explains many things for which we cannot otherwise account." AA later acknowledged that "alcoholism is not a true allergy, the experts now inform us." Wilson explained in 1960 why AA had refrained from using the term "disease":
Alcoholism is characterised by an increased tolerance to alcohol–which means that an individual can consume more alcohol–and physical dependence on alcohol, which makes it hard for an individual to control their consumption. The physical dependency caused by alcohol can lead to an affected individual having a very strong urge to drink alcohol. These characteristics play a role decreasing an alcoholic's ability to stop drinking. Alcoholism can have adverse effects on mental health, causing psychiatric disorders and increasing the risk of suicide. A depressed mood is a common symptom of heavy alcohol drinkers.
Jump up ^ GBD 2013 Mortality and Causes of Death, Collaborators (17 December 2014). "Global, regional, and national age-sex specific all-cause and cause-specific mortality for 240 causes of death, 1990–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013". Lancet. 385 (9963): 117–71. doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(14)61682-2. PMC 4340604. PMID 25530442.
We have never called alcoholism a disease because, technically speaking, it is not a disease entity. For example, there is no such thing as heart disease. Instead there are many separate heart ailments, or combinations of them. It is something like that with alcoholism. We did not wish to get in wrong with the medical profession by pronouncing alcoholism a disease entity. We always called it an illness, or a malady—a far safer term for us to use.
AA's program is an inheritor of Counter-Enlightenment philosophy. AA shares the view that acceptance of one's inherent limitations is critical to finding one's proper place among other humans and God. Such ideas are described as "Counter-Enlightenment" because they are contrary to the Enlightenment's ideal that humans have the capacity to make their lives and societies a heaven on earth using their own power and reason. After evaluating AA's literature and observing AA meetings for sixteen months, sociologists David R. Rudy and Arthur L. Greil found that for an AA member to remain sober a high level of commitment is necessary. This commitment is facilitated by a change in the member's worldview. To help members stay sober AA must, they argue, provide an all-encompassing worldview while creating and sustaining an atmosphere of transcendence in the organization. To be all-encompassing AA's ideology places an emphasis on tolerance rather than on a narrow religious worldview that could make the organization unpalatable to potential members and thereby limit its effectiveness. AA's emphasis on the spiritual nature of its program, however, is necessary to institutionalize a feeling of transcendence. A tension results from the risk that the necessity of transcendence, if taken too literally, would compromise AA's efforts to maintain a broad appeal. As this tension is an integral part of AA, Rudy and Greil argue that AA is best described as a quasi-religious organization.
Around a third of individuals with alcohol dependence resolve their alcohol consumption problems without professional intervention. Others need the support of a health professional who can recommend a range of treatments. While there are many effective treatments, people who overcome alcohol dependence often relapse (i.e. develop alcohol dependency once again).
Codependency is the tendency to interact with another person in an excessively passive or caretaking manner that negatively affects the quality of the codependent individual's life. The codependent person has a pattern of putting their own needs below those of others, likely has low self-esteem, and tends to engage in denial, excessive compliance, and control. Individuals who are codependent are at risk for engaging in addictive behaviors, including alcoholism, drug or sexual addiction, as well as eating disorders or self-destructive or other self-defeating behaviors. Psychotherapy and participation in support groups are the usual treatments for codependency.
Q. Alcoholism Steve 26 yr old suffered with bi-polar and the related drugs that eventually lead to his over dose. He died in where he felt a connection to the intellectual environment. After suffering with Steve for so many years, I am convinced that this disease is genetic; his grandmother also suffered with drug addiction and a mental disorder, but had that gene that must have been inherited by Steve. Any one in the area of mental health and genetic engineering Research? We want to set up or get involved with public awareness on the devastation of this disease which kills 100+ thousands in this country each year; yet society treats it as a social problem -- The advancement of mental research has been slow almost medieval -- Please help. No one, no family should have to suffer the way my beautiful son suffered and who had so much to give to humanity.
It’s not always easy to see when your alcohol intake has crossed the line from moderate or social drinking to problem drinking. But if you consume alcohol to cope with difficulties or to avoid feeling bad, you’re in potentially dangerous territory. Drinking problems can sneak up on you, so it’s important to be aware of the warning signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism and take steps to cut back if you recognize them. Understanding the problem is the first step to overcoming it and either cutting back to healthy levels or quitting altogether.
Al-Anon and Alateen. Al-Anon is an organization comprised of support groups targeted towards friends and family of individuals suffering from alcoholism. In these groups, family members and friends are able to share their personal experiences, discuss difficulties and find effective ways to deal with problems—regardless of whether the alcohol abusing individual in their lives have completed an addiction recovery program. Alateen is a fellowship that is specifically targeted towards younger Al-Anon members, particularly teenagers.
I am appalled that a book written by two extremely disturbed privileged white males who lived in 1930s Jim Crow era America is still the "treatment " standard for addiction. AA has been ruled a religious organization by several federal circuit courts, and it is impossible to work the program without a belief in a God who magically answers prayers for the addict who prays hard enough. It is not possible to turn one's will and life over to the care of Nature, or a Doorknob, or the Group of Drunks. One is guided through the steps by someone who is only qualified by the amount of sober time they claim to have. 12 step groups are especially dangerous for survivors of rape, abuse, and other trauma when they are tasked to examine "their part" in the crimes committed against them, not to mention having to defend themselves against the unethical yet joked about 13th Step.
Alcoholics Anonymous became so well-known that Wilson and other early members of the group were invited to a dinner hosted by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., the patriarch of one of the most powerful families in American history. Despite Wilson’s requests, Rockefeller refused to finance AA, believing that the money would only corrupt the noble ambitions of the group. Instead, Rockefeller felt that the organization’s own characteristics – the personal testimonies, the word-of-mouth, and the anonymity – were key to its success and longevity.
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A lot of people get wrapped up in abusing psychoactive substances that make them feel good. Physical and psychological dependence ensue. Both states of withdrawal may ensue. There are people who just need motivation and life change to get away from their addiction. There is another class of people who cannot stop. The 12-steps are being attacked because they can't do anything for you. You have to use the 12-steps for them to help you. I have the disease, nothing else could help me.
According to information derived from the United States National Longitudinal Alcohol Epidemiologic Study released in 2006, about 8% of American adults are dependent on alcohol (estimates range from 5-10%). About 34% of adult Americans do not use alcohol at all. Another 44% are occasional or non-dependent users. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable death in the United States (smoking and obesity rank first and second) and is responsible for about 85,000 deaths annually, about half from injury and half from disease. Alcoholism is involved in about 30% of homicides and 22% of suicides. It is the cause of about 20% of fatal motor vehicle accidents and is a contributing factor in between one-third and one-half of all vehicular accidents. Alcoholism costs the United States about $185 billion annually in costs related to violence, traffic accidents, lost work productivity, and direct medical expenses. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that at least 6.6 million children under age 18 live in households with at least one alcoholic parent and that before age 18 about 25% of children are exposed to family alcohol dependency or alcohol abuse.
The twelve Step programs are well known for their use in recovering from addictive and dysfunctional behaviors. The first 12 step program began with Alcoholics Anonymous (A.A.) in the 1930s and has since grown to be the most widely used approach in dealing not only with recovery from alcoholism, but also from drug abuse and various other addictive and dysfunctional behaviors.
observations The most frequent medical consequences of alcoholism are central nervous system depression and cirrhosis. The severity of each may be greater in the absence of food intake. Alcoholic patients also may suffer from alcoholic gastritis, peripheral neuropathies, auditory hallucinations, and cardiac problems. Abrupt withdrawal of alcohol in addiction causes weakness, sweating, and hyperreflexia. The severe form of alcohol withdrawal is delirium tremens.
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Most Twelve Step participants view addiction as a lifelong disease and see the Twelve Steps as their new design for living. When people whose lives have been affected by addiction work the Twelve Steps, they can better sort out the things which they have no control over, and the things for which they are responsible. Group meetings offer a safe place to share one's experience, strength and hope, and to receive support and fellowship.
Research from NIAAA also suggests that alcoholism can stem from genes. While the specific “alcoholism gene” hasn’t yet been identified, there are known genes that can boost the power of alcohol and reduce the impact of a hangover. People with these gene combinations may get a bigger high from drinking, and they may not feel ill or sick after a long day of drinking. Their bodies just seem primed for alcohol abuse, and that can make them more likely to develop alcoholism.
NIAAA says a relapse typically follows a predictable path. The person in recovery is placed in a high-risk situation, and the person isn’t able to handle that situation effectively. That lack of effectiveness can prompt the person to feel somehow vulnerable or weak, and it can lead to a craving for alcohol. After a weak moment, people just begin to attribute life’s good things to alcohol. They then have a lapse and drink just a bit. In time, they start to drink more and more.
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Twelve-step methods have been adapted to address a wide range of alcoholism, substance-abuse and dependency problems. Over 200 self-help organizations—often known as fellowships—with a worldwide membership of millions—now employ twelve-step principles for recovery. Narcotics Anonymous was formed by addicts who did not relate to the specifics of alcohol dependency.