This is a very bold question, which is bound to draw some criticism. Regardless, I believe it is a valid question and I have some very sound, logic and evidence to answer it.
Note: My original website slogan was in the form of a statement ‘Alcoholism is a choice… not a life sentence!’. I subsequently changed it to a question, ‘Is alcoholism a choice… or a life sentence?’ to avert possible criticism from the medical profession. I had been unhappy with that change ever since, as it compromised my real intent of telling people that being dependent on alcohol is in fact a choice, that only you control. I have now changed my slogan back to near original so it is in harmony with my intent and beliefs: ‘Alcohol dependence is a choice… not a life sentence!‘. This post below was written while the word ‘alcoholism’ was still in the slogan, though my explanations are still valid now.
To start let’s look at the definitions of the words ‘alcoholism’ and ‘alcoholic’.
‘A chronic disorder characterized by dependence on alcohol, repeated excessive use of alcoholic beverages, the development of withdrawal symptoms on reducing or ceasing intake, morbidity that may include cirrhosis of the liver, and decreased ability to function socially and vocationally.’ i.
‘A condition in which dependence on alcohol harms a person’s health, social functioning, or family life.’ ii
‘The compulsive consumption of and psychophysiological dependence on alcoholic beverages. A chronic, progressive pathological condition, mainly affecting the nervous and digestive systems, caused by the excessive and habitual consumption of alcohol.’ iii
‘A person who drinks alcoholic substances habitually and to excess or who suffers from alcoholism.’ iv
There are many other broad variations of the definitions, though all imply that an ‘alcoholic’ or person that is deemed to be suffering from ‘alcoholism’, is dependent on, or addicted to the use of alcohol. These are labels that are commonly used, though I consider people add their own perception to what the terms actually mean.
The harsh reality I am pointing out with the first part of my slogan “Is Alcoholism A Choice…” is that every person dependent (or addicted) to alcohol, got to be that way by an accumulation of many choices over a period of time. For whatever reasons, the person chose to start drinking alcohol and chose to consume alcohol on every subsequent occasion after that. No one held a gun to their head or forced them to consume each drink. They made those choices themselves on all those separate occasions.
Now, they may have been naive to the long-term effects, or that sustained alcohol use and alcohol abuse may lead to alcohol dependence, or may have even been raised in a culture and environment where it was expected that young people will start using alcohol as soon as legally able. However, they still had the ultimate decision whether to drink alcohol or not. I’m not suggesting that peer pressure and poor examples set by family and other influential people, doesn’t play a big part in young people readily adopting alcohol use as a substance to ‘deal’ with life’s issues and social expectations. Our young and impressionable minds do readily accept behaviours of people we trust and look up to. Though again, no one forces us to drink alcohol under some threat of harm or retribution if we don’t. By the time we are teenage we have the capacity to say no to alcohol use and alcohol abuse.
I, like many young people, just did what was culturally accepted and started drinking alcohol at a very young age, mainly to feel good and fulfil my perception that it was a ‘rite of passage’ into adulthood. I used alcohol to mask and hide from emotional discomfort and to give me a false sense of confidence. I may have been naïve and certainly not planning on becoming an alcoholic, nevertheless I chose to drink on every occasion I did, and my habitual drinking did lead me down the path to being an alcoholic. It is probably a similar process for most people that end up down the path of alcoholism.
I agree with the notion that some people are genetically programmed to be susceptible to alcoholism, though disagree that they have no choice in the outcome. We all have the ability to be the masters of our fate. Our fate is made up of the many choices we make each day. Whether to drink alcohol is no different to other important choices we have to make. Those of us that ended up as alcoholics (with ‘alcoholism’), got there one choice at a time.
The last part of my slogan “Or A Life Sentence” is to contradict what the ‘traditional’ view is on being an alcoholic. I refute the idea of ‘once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic’, in all cases. I for one am living proof that someone completely dependent on alcohol (an alcoholic), can stop drinking and become completely and permanently alcohol-free, without even the desire for alcohol. Sure, it requires rewiring your brain with some new beliefs about what alcohol ‘actually’ does to your life, as opposed to what you may have believed. It also requires some very good ‘whys’ that you should live completely alcohol-free. Furthermore, it requires a resolute commitment to do what is necessary to see the process of becoming alcohol-free through to completion. You cannot be the same person psychologically, doing the same actions and expect to get different results. You must be prepared to make changes to your belief system and at a deep core level. Once you meet these requirements your outer results will match your inner mindset and you will be free from the desire for alcohol…permanently.
The Alcohemy process I developed completely changed my beliefs about alcohol use and its relevance in my life. It changed me in such a way that I find it practically laughable that I would drink alcohol for emotional or social comfort. After reading my book, Australian counselling psychologist (and member of the International Positive Psychology Association), Dr. Bob Rich MSc, PhD, MAPS, stated “David has convinced me that it is possible to get rid of this urge, this desire to drink alcohol, and by implication to get rid of any other addiction. I have started to apply David’s ideas in my therapeutic practice, and hope the book will be widely enough known that it becomes the new accepted wisdom.” v
Being an alcoholic is not a life sentence in all cases, as commonly thought. People get there one choice at a time, and can with some commitment completely remove the desire for alcohol, by choosing to do so. If you have an alcohol dependence (or know someone you care about who does), my Alcohemy book and the Alcohemy website will provide a private and discreet alcohol treatment solution. It is then up to you on what choices you make. I am just passionate about helping others with alcohol dependence experience the rewards of alcohol-freedom like I did. Be the Master of your Fate; the Captain of your Soul.
alcoholism. (n.d.). Dictionary.com Unabridged. Retrieved January 05, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alcoholism
alcoholism. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved January 05, 2014, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alcoholism
alcoholism. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved January 05, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alcoholism
alcoholic. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Stedman’s Medical Dictionary. Retrieved January 05, 2014, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/alcoholic