I used to have a slogan on my Alcohemy website which said “Alcoholism is a choice… not a life sentence” I coined it to get people thinking about how much of a role does the actual alcoholic play in getting to that state, and how much are they responsible for determining if they remain an alcoholic. Admittedly, I chose the wording to elicit a reaction from those that hold the traditional view point that alcoholism is an ‘incurable’ disease and that ‘once an alcoholic… always an alcoholic’. Boy! Did I underestimate the response from the traditional-thinking US medical fraternity, who were approached by my US PR consultant to review my book, in hope of me gaining an interview. Some were quite visceral in their opinion that I was not medically qualified to question a hundred years of research and ‘accepted’ thinking on the subject. Some even suggested it was ‘irresponsible’ at best and ‘dangerous’ at worst to give hope to alcoholics that they could ever be completely free from desiring alcohol. Well, I’m making the big call… to me that’s bullsh*t and very limiting and defeatist thinking.
The whole point of the book I wrote was to give people struggling with alcohol dependence, addiction, alcoholism (call it what you want), inspiration and hope that it is possible to stop drinking and recover to lead blissful alcohol-free lives. And yes, for some, this can be without even the ‘desire’ for alcohol. In my book I regularly use the term “be the master of your fate; captain of your soul”, to reiterate that we do have the ability to control our futures, one thought, feeling, choice and action at a time. It might not be easy, though it is possible.
Another thing I have noticed in my efforts to get my message exposed via the media (which are vetted by their medical staff), is the apparent fixation on the word ‘alcoholism’. I was told it was odd the term wasn’t mentioned even once in my entire book, yet told I shouldn’t have used it in my website slogan. It seems once the word ‘alcoholism‘ (or even ‘alcoholic‘) is used you are entering into hallowed ground and only medically qualified people have any credibility to comment.
I have read many definitions of what an ‘alcoholic’ or ‘alcohol dependent’, ‘alcohol abuse’, ‘alcoholism’ etc. means from many sources, including medical. They vary greatly and some mention ‘disease’ and some don’t. Regardless, you can find a definition to suit your particular point of view if you look hard enough. I have never seen anywhere where is states what is the difference between an ‘alcohol dependent’, an ‘alcoholic’ or person with ‘alcoholism’ is, nor where there is a change (if any) from one to the other. There seems to be a major hang-up on the word ‘alcoholism’ by medical professionals; and that it precludes any possible treatment except for current medically approved methods. Where does the definition of someone who is totally ‘alcohol dependent’ finish and someone with ‘alcoholism’ begin???
In fact there is a good reason I didn’t use the word alcoholism in my book. My book was not meant to be a look at treating alcohol addiction or alcoholism from a medicalperspective. It was intended to come from a past sufferer’s perspective, based on my personal experience. One that other alcoholics could relate to at a deeper personal level. From my experience, people don’t like being called an alcoholic and given my book is trying to gently coax people to consider the real state of their alcohol dependence, then ‘dependence’ seemed a friendlier, more relatable term to me. If someone asked me back when I drank if I was ‘alcohol dependent’, I would have said, “Yes, I guess I am”. If they asked if I was an ‘alcoholic’ or had ‘alcoholism’ I would have told them to bugger off and not to be so blatantly rude. I believe my choice of words such as ‘habitual’ and ‘dependence’ in my book, are not only factual, it shows very good ‘tact’, instead of being so ‘medically’ literal. My intent is to help the alcohol-dependent ‘fence-sitters’, rather than alienate them.
Another point of feedback that has trickled in via social media (Facebook, Instagram) postings I have made is people (apparent sufferers??) telling me alcohol addiction is a disease. Again, it’s almost like they are saying nothing can be done about it and the very best they can hope for is a life of perpetually stressful vigilance. My experience indicates to me it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. I believe alcohol dependence can be reversed. I have been alcohol-free for over 6 years and don’t even ‘desire’ to use alcohol (or any external substance) to prop up any area of my life, emotionally or physically. I admit, I wasn’t to the stage where I was living in a box on the streets, drinking cheap wine out of a bottle in a paper bag. I was a business person, though can assure you I drank way too much wine/spirits every single day and was definitely addicted to alcohol.
Furthermore, I have never said anywhere in my book or website that alcoholism is not a disease. The term disease has its own varying definitions, though I am satisfied that full-on alcoholism is classed a disease. What they (traditional medical thinking) seem to be saying is that it is incurable and the sufferer has no choice in that. I am simply questioning that stand point in all cases. The human mind and spirit is a very powerful force and if given the right guidance and belief system, can do things medical science can’t fathom. True, it might not work for everyone, though to disregard that approach to follow the ‘rule’, to me is very limited thinking. Why can’t conventional and non-conventional methods work side by side to widen the alcohol treatment options to more sufferers, hard core or not.
I believe the greatest percentage of ‘alcoholics’ would be in the category I was (not needing urgent medical treatment and reluctant to seek public help), so surely my experience and discreet alcohol treatment program is worth supporting, if it could potentially help millions of middle-ground alcoholic ‘fence-sitters’. I understand I don’t have a medical degree to walk the hallowed grounds of alcohol addiction treatment unchallenged and I accept that. All I ask for is a free-thinking approach from those open minded enough to even read my book all the way through and not just skim through to see if it meets their existing beliefs and encoded biases. At the end of the day we are all trying to do our bit to lessen the global problem of culturally accepted alcohol abuse and the heartache it causes to individuals and their families.