Understanding Alcoholism and Addiction
The disease of drug and alcohol addiction is often stigmatized – incorrectly identified as the result of poor decision-making and lack of moral fiber. In reality, addiction is a chronic disease which affects its victims both mentally and physically.
Addiction can be described as a disease of the mind coupled with an allergy of the body. Addictive thinking causes addicts to continue to drink and use when the consequences are obviously detrimental to their lives. The physical allergy is the reason that addicts and alcoholics react differently than normal people when they ingest a drink or drug. When even the smallest amount of an intoxicating substance enters the body of an addict, a trigger goes off in the brain. Once that trigger is pulled, all scope is lost – the only thing that matters is getting high.
The result of these mental and physical phenomena is the loss of things that the addict truly values. Addicts lose careers, homes, families and friends, not because they choose drugs over these things, but because their disease makes the choice for them.
The same thinking that keeps addicts high and drunk even as their lives crumble beneath them causes them to make similarly unwise decisions with regards to other behaviors that allow them to escape themselves temporarily. Sex, love, eating, not eating, exercise, self-harm, and any other means of getting outside of one’s self are potential problems for an addict, especially in early sobriety when the preferred method of escapism has been eliminated.