Addiction is a gruesome little fellow, huh? He comes in, takes over our lives, and ruins our dreams. He makes us believe he isn’t a disease. He makes us believe he’s just a phase, just a problem.
In treatment, my therapist said addiction and alcoholism were diseases. I didn’t agree. She compared alcoholism to cancer. I thought to myself, “I wish I knew this growing up! I could have gotten my parents off my back!” I could only dream of using this disease excuse when my parents were pointing flashlights in my eyes to check the size of my pupils.
I argued with my sponsor that alcoholism and addiction weren’t diseases. I thought a disease was something physically wrong with you. After all, I’d seen my grandfather fight, and beat, cancer. I watched my grandmother die of throat cancer. Now cancer, that’s a disease. Alcoholism? Addiction? They’re not diseases. It’s just a phase I’m going through, I’ll be fine.
I Started to Change My Mind
The more I read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the more I began to change my mind. I started to look at alcoholism and addiction as diseases. I learned that my disease centered in my mind, not my body. I could be entirely normal in all other respects, but when it came to drug and alcohol? Well, then my thinking was simply wrong.
The idea I could control my use is a symptom of my disease. The idea that it’d be different this time is a symptom of my disease. The idea that I had a choice in whether to drink or not, that’s a symptom of my disease too.
I began to learn I was INSANE. I began to learn that even though days, weeks, months, and years pass, my addict mind still exists. The only way I can continue being sober is to understand that I’m sick and take my “medicine.”
I believe everyone has their own medicine. If you’re diabetic, you need insulin. If you have an infection, you need antibiotics. If you’re an alcoholic, you need the twelve-steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. I work hard to keep my demons at bay. I accept that this recovery gig is a lifelong process.
Alcoholism is a Disease!
AA’s Big Book speaks of a jumping off point. This is when we can’t image life with, or without, alcohol and drugs. We have two choices. We can do some work (get a sponsor and work the twelve-steps), or continue drinking and using (to the “bitter end” as the book says).
Today it’s easy for me to say I’ll do the necessary work. This is because the bitter end is just that – a bitter, lonely, and destructive end. To put it another way, I do the work because alcohol beat me up enough. When I was in early sobriety though? Well, that’s another story. Many of us addicts and alcoholics decide to go to that bitter end. We decide this because alcoholism and addiction are diseases. They’re disease that make us think we’re different. They make us think a lonely death is better than a period of uncomfortable growth.
Addiction and alcoholism are diseases that affect our minds. They warp our thinking. They also affect the lives that we touch. They destroy families, romantic relationships, friendships, and countless other things.
Once someone starts to recovery from alcoholism, things are much different. Today, I’m a stronger and more faithful person because of my disease. Looking into the abyss, well, it changes you. We can look into that abyss and get better, or we can look into it and die.
The choice is ours. There’s always hope, ladies. We can ALWAYS recovery from our addiction. We can ALWAYS recovery from our alcoholism. We can ALWAYS bounce back. We can ALWAYS get better. There’s doesn’t always have to be a bitter end.