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  • David Sklar, PhD, ACSW

Is Alcoholism a Disease?

No. Of course not. Does it really have to be disease for us to recognize and deal with it? Can we just get on with it? In the history of ideas this is not the soundest. Cancer is a disease. Parkinson's is a disease. M.S. is a disease. Coronavirus, now there's a disease. Diseases, fatal and or neurological in particular, have an inexorable direction.Not much to be done about the progression of Parkinson's or M.S. There is nothing to do, or abstain from, that is going to change the course of these illnesses. Heart attacks occur to those in the best of health.You can be a marathon runner, stop into the Tropical Cafe for a kale smoothie, and drop dead of from an aneurysm. There is often nothing you did to cause these things to occur. You often dieted, exercised, prayed, did all the right things then Early Onset Dementia comes along. Slowly robs you of your mind and body. Nothing you can do to stop it. Why? Because it is a disease, that's why. Alcoholism is different. You are the creator and cure of your own personal disease. Nobody makes you drink, and nobody but you can stop the drinking. Alcohol doesn't just happen upon you. Bottles don't instantaneously appear in your hand. The 'I' is always the initiator. Alcoholism is not like Coronavirus, you don't catch it by being near someone. You don't have to worry if some alcoholic stumbles into you unless his pint of Vodka accidentally finds a way into your mouth. Alcoholics, unlike Juvenile Diabetics, are not victims of fate. Alcoholics are not born with an alcoholic anything. Genetic predisposition involves how the body reacts once alcohol is ingested. The way our bodies process alcohol is genetically determined. Whether we decide to stop at the bar, or just pass it by has nothing to do with genetics. It is an existential choice. A choice for which we are ultimately responsible. It has to be, otherwise recovery is unexplainable.

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