Al-Anon Meeting Topic: Alcoholism as a Disease

It Affects Everyone in the Family

Man With Coffee
Alcoholism Affects the Entire Family. © Getty Images

Alcoholism has been recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association and other medical organizations since the early 1950's. It is a chronic, progressive and, if untreated, fatal disease.

It has been described as mental obsession coupled with a physical compulsion -- to drink. It is also described as being addicted to something you are also allergic too. It is the only disease that denies it exists, and resists treatment.

And the only one that must be self diagnosed.

Alcoholics Lose the Choice to Stop

As one Al-Anon member used to explain it, "If the doctor told you that you were allergic to strawberries, you would simply stop eating strawberries. The alcoholic can't do that!" The alcoholic does not have that choice, once the disease reaches the "toxic" level.

Did you ever wake up in the morning with some silly melody "playing" in your head? Remember what that was like? No matter what you did, you couldn't get that song to stop playing.

An Insane Situation

There was something going on in your mind that you had no control over! That's an example of a simple form of mental obsession. And it's the same for the alcoholic. They don't put that "drinking song" in their head, but once it starts playing, the only way to get it to stop, is to take another drink.

I wished I had known all of this many years ago! It would have helped me to make sense out of an insane situation.

There is a growing body of scientific evidence that indicates that alcoholism is genetic. In other words, some people are "born" alcoholics. There are alcoholics walking around that have never taken a drink in their lives, but if they ever do, it activates the disease.

A Family Disease

I have to remember that the "disease" of alcoholism is much more than just a "physical" disease.

It is a cunning, baffling, and powerful disease. It is a mental, spiritual, moral, and psychological disease too -- slowly attacking and destroying every aspect of the alcoholic's life.

It affects not only the drinker, but every member of the family as well. Whether I was aware of it or not, or even whether I admitted it or not, my behavior was affected just as much as the alcoholic's.

I Was Affected Too!

But when I accepted alcoholism as a disease, I finally began to recover from its effects on my life. I spent an awful lot of years of my life trying to make sense out of the chaos around me from living with an alcoholic.

When I learned more about the dynamics of the family disease of alcoholism and how I behaved and thought just as "alcoholically" as the drinkers in my life, it finally began to make sense to me and I gained a lot of serenity.

Learning to Work on Me

From my simple acceptance that alcoholism was a disease over which I was entirely powerless, I was suddenly relieved of the burden of having to "fix" someone else, and only had to began to look after myself.

That is the whole point of Al-Anon for me -- to put the focus on myself, and work on my spiritual progress, rather than looking to find someone else to blame for all my problems.

-- BuddyT

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