Alcohol -an illness?

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hi. I'm a recovering and sometimes lapsing alcoholic. I have been to AA, hand counselling etc and am doing ok. But the one thing that I can't get my head around is the fact that alcoholism is an illness.

i just don't get it My doctor tells me that I don't need to "get" it, that acceptance of it is enough, and maybe I will never "get" it. But for me to try and understand the cravings and combat them I personally need to "get" it.

am I asking too much to try and understand why I feel the need to drink?

i don't even like the taste of alcohol anymore, I hate it, I really really want to stop. But when I go to the shop to buy a magazine, or a loaf of bread, my hand automatically goes for the bottle of wine aswell. Even though I am saying to myself that I don't want it.

Please, please, please can someone tell me why I do it? 

I don't think I can move on and overcome it until I understand why I do it. Only then can I put in place actions to resist. 

All help will be very much welcomed.

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14 Replies

  • Posted

    Hi Liz.

    I am pretty much in the same boat as you are on this one.

    I am also recovering with a few lapses. As I understand it, though I am not a doctor, our brains react differently to the stimulus of alcohol and there is not much that can be done about it without the help of medication and or good counseling and support.

    I believe it is something to do with seratonins,it was explained to me once,but unfortunately got lost in the fog!!

    I understand your desire to understand the cause.speak to your doc next time and ask for a brief description in layman's terms.

    This will probably help you stop beating yourself up about it.

    I try and think of it as a kind of allergic reaction to alcohol, which essentially it's not your fault in any way, just the way your body works.

    You said in your post that you don't even like the stuff so that fits in with my thinking on this.

    Hope this has been of some small help,we need as much of that as we can get!!

    Good luck, let me know what you think on this.


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  • Posted

    Hi. Thanks for your post. It was very much welcome. 

    I asked my doctor to explain the illness, and have asked counsellors and AA. None of them can give me an answer. I once walked out of an AA meeting because I was asking too many questions and they told me to shut up! I was only trying to understand the illness and was asking for other people's opinions!

    i also don't get the allergic reaction stuff either. It's not like alcohol gives me hives.

    an example:

    yesterday, I went to the shop for some milk. I had no thoughts of alcohol prior to that, whatsoever. 

    but as soon as I walked in the shop and saw the wine in the fridge, I automatically walked over to it and picked up a bottle. At the same time, my inner voice was saying "don't be stupid, you don't need it, you don't want it, all it's going to do,is make you feel bad". But my hand wouldn't let me put it down.

    i bought it, got home and poured myself a glass. I tasted it and thought "oh my god that's disgusting" but I carried on drinking it. Why?

    its now the next morning and I feel so stupid and guilty.


     Why? Why?

    Please help me.


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  • Posted

    Liz, you have learnt to feel guilty over your drinking. Many treatment approaches are about 'behaviour' and you are expected to feel guilt about your drinking.

    After years of being told to think that way, it is not easy to accept a different way of looking at things, it's like trying to convince yourself that 2 + 2 = 5.

    Imagine two people. Both start drinking in their teens. Both are irresponsible (as teenagers often are). Both get drunk frequently. Both are decent people just doing what kids do. Person A suddenly gets into a relationship and gets a responsible job. He/she then realises that the days of getting drunk and crawling home are over. Too many responsibilities now to carry on behaving that way. The importance of alcohol fades in their life and, while they may occasionally have a glass of wine or a pint of beer, or even have a real heavy session, it doesn't dominate their life anymore. They become a controlled drinker who can drink or not drink.

    Person B also finds a partner and a responsible job, but finds that the alcohol is still important. They have a drink within a few minutes of getting home from work and it doesn't stop at one drink, they may get through a whole bottle of wine, and they feel better for having that. But then they find that, due to an increased tolerance to alcohol, they need more than one bottle to get the same effect, to feel relaxed and, in some cases even, to feel normal. Alcohol continues to dominate their life and everything spirals downward.

    Person A and Person B are different biologically. Person A might like to get a bit merry in a social situation, to relax and have a laugh, but it is not crucial that they do this. If they go weeks or months without a drink, they don't think about alcohol. It's there and they sometimes use it, but they are not bothered if they don't.

    Person B gets additional reward for drinking. Subconsciously, they get more pleasure just from the drinking. It is not used as a social lubricant like it is for Person A, it becomes a necessary coping tool. Coming home to a fridge with no wine in it is likely to cause a bit of a panic. 'Oh no, I have no wine!'

    Physiologically, the difference between Persons A & B is the effect of alcohol on them. In Person B, when the endorphins released by drinking attach to the opioid receptors in the brain, pleasure results which is way beyond the effect that alcohol has on Person A. Even when alcohol causes serious health problems or is so much of a problem that relationships are ruined, that reward is too great to ignore. This is why some people carry on drinking despite knowing that the result of doing so will be devastating to them. THAT is addiction.

    It is only in recent years that this physiological explanation, for why some people get addicted to alcohol and others can simply drink if they want to or stop if they want to, has been considered in medicine.

    The Sinclair Method resulted from such research. By taking a drug that blocks the opioid receptors, preventing endorphins from attaching to them, a person can begin to retrain their brain and unlearn their addiction.

    The Sinclair Method is having success rates of around 78% in Finland. 'Success' is defined as either achieving controlled drinking or abstaining totally from drinking.

    Since the 1930s, people have been standing up in group meetings and taking the blame for their excessive drinking. Accepting responsibility for all the 'terrible things' they have done to their family.

    There are no such groups for people who have other illnesses. I am an insulin-dependent diabetic. I am slightly physiologically different to people who are not diabetic. I don't have to take the blame. People accept that it is not my fault.

    There is a multi-billion dollar global rehab business which relies on repeat customers who have all their dignity and rights taken from them each time they pay thousands to go off and get 'treatment' which consists of them being forced to go to group meetings, not to communicate with anybody in the outside world for a few weeks, to go to bed when they are told and get up when they are told and to accept that everything that has ever gone wrong in their life is their own fault. It's hardly surprising that people involved in this highly profitable business don't want things to change!

    It is not your fault that you have an alcohol problem but, because of the effect it has on your health and your relationships, it is your responsibility to find a solution. By accepting it as a medical issue allows you to put aside your guilt (which will help massively with the psychological damage that years of feeling like a 'bad person' has caused you.)


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  • Posted

    So what do I do to get over the addiction? How can I stop the opioids from attaching themselves to my brain? Do I need to get some medication? If so, what is it and where can I get it? Do I need to take it all the time? Will it make me feel ill?
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    • Posted

      Nalmefene. You are likely to get some nausea and sleep disturbances initially, but they wear off over the first week as your body gets accustomed to the medication. It has recently been licenced for use in the UK. Ask your GP to prescribe it for you. The issue some people have found is that, because it is expensive, it isn't always easy to convince your GP to prescribe it, but do a search on 'the sinclair method' and take some print outs with you to show the GP.
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    • Posted

      Ok. That's great. Thank you so much for your replies. I am sure my GP will prescribe it as he is very supportive of my "situation". Is it something I need to take all the time, or just when I feel the urge to drink? As I never know when the urge will hit me. Sometimes it can be days, weeks or even months.
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  • Posted

    I would pay a million pounds for someone to take this away from me. I am so desperate for help. I cannot carry on like this for much longer. It is a devastating "illness" if that's what it is, and I don't want it anymore. Sometimes the guilt and despair gets too much and when I am feeling so depressed I just want to die. I know that depression is made worse by alcohol, it is a depressant, and I know that drinking doesn't help my mood. But I can't seem to stop.

    i can weeks,months,years without alcohol and feel,fantastic. My life gets back on track. Everything is good. So why do I go back to it?

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    • Posted

      Because abstinence increases the cravings, Liz. Get hold of the book 'The Cure for Alcoholism' by Roy Eskapa. That explains everything. You can get an electronic copy from Amazon and iBooks for about £3. It's well worth a read.
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    • Posted

      The longer one is without substance to repress pain and anger DEEPLY buried it will feel safe enugh to face it without more drama, more choas to keep it away from consiuosness.  I have had psychotic beaks at 9 months sober for years or i would drink at 9 months unknownly to keep it buried.  Psychotics breaks are for me a time where the memories of sexual abuse followed by extreme volience are to much to remember i turn my reality into a fantasy to survive such realization, much like living in a fantasy world as a child does.  I become a movie star, famous or Jesus christ in female form and I express it and out come the handcuffs again.  Hello psch ward and a hell of a lot of psych drugs to the point i don't know my freaking name.  MANIC DEPRESSION.  My illusion of escape have been taken away and i realise I am not here to save the world.  It's a freakish bumer.


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  • Posted

    I guess we all know that giving up cigarettes, sugar, drugs, anything that is pleasurable is very hard cause the body is not producing the dopamine and the good feel endorphins without the substance.  The brain is in shock and has to reestablish it self back to normal like a child's brain functions before any outside substance is introduced.  Now I believe there is an exception to this rule.  If a child is traumatized repeatedly while the brain is developing, the brain is on cortisol overload and doesn't not develop certain areas in the brain normally.  They can actually look at a brain scan of a traumatized adult child and tell if they were traumatized.  Also the programing of the thoughts "like don't feel good cause something horried is going to happen causes neuropathways to not release dopamine, leading to a constant depression and worthlessness. When that child. teen or adult take a substance that finally starts to produce dopamine it' feels like they have found the answer to at least attempt to feel happiness like a healthy ndividual.  They party is on.  Some say it's at dis ease.  I don't believe it's a disease to be addicted to cigarettes, dope, sex, shoplifting, nor alcohol.  The person is just trying to get rid of some sever pain it doesn't want to feel and learn to live with the pain long enough to experience it and then figure out HOW not WHY they are going to live with it and have a reasonable life and transcend the soceity's or parents values that were ingrained in them for years and find self worth for self.  I have never seen a human kill itself that loved themselves yet.  Once a person finds love of self than he can freely love another and it's world.  bEFORE THIS PROCESS takes place any attempt to love anyone or anything will be impossibe to sustain because of the minds ability to project its own pain coming from within will step up circumstances to prove the ego or self that it is right.  Very powerful mind it is cause this is done unconsiously or unknowing example an abused child will find a mate that abuses that person the same way mommy or daddy did.  It's familar and comfortable, hence family.  Quit possible addicted to adrenaline.  Also the mind can rationalize that  my daddy is not bad all men are bad.  Wow, I never have written much in recovery.  This formum is helping me sort out the jumbled mess of thoughts in my mind  Feeling better today.  I actually have my own thoughts and opinions.  Thanks everybody for sharing and listening.  Only my 2nd true day in without any booze,


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