Posted by ClearSkies on November 4, 2005, at 5:29:39
There is much discussion about whether addictions are a disease or a habit that needs to be broken and replaced with healthy habits. Whether it is a compulsive behaviour we have no power over, or a matter of choice - "just don't drink". Whether it is a genetic predisposition or falling in with the wrong crowd when we were kids.
There's no doubt in my mind that it's a metabolic disorder; that a physical need is created by repeated exposure to a substance consumed in levels toxic to our bodies. When that comsumption is ceased, there is a great capacity for the body to repair the damage and insult caused to it.
I wonder though, whether this really is a disease. My experience over the years has been that after a period of abstinence, if I start this bad habit again, my body responds as if I had never stopped. It picks up where I left off - stomach upset, days-long hangovers, blackouts - and not back at the beginning of the habit. When drinking gave me pleasure, some euphoria, an easing of anxiety. Why would my body have this response if it was not diseased and conditioned to react as if I had never stopped drinking? Is it analogous to learning to ride a bicycle? That once our bodies "learn" a response to the substance, that it remembers exactly where we left off and picks up right at that point?
My personal Choice - and it's become a choice in the days after it was a compulsion that required outside help in the form of group therapy and medication - is to not consume alcohol at all. I don't want to go through more physical and mental misery than I have to. I want to be kind to my body and let it recover from the years of abuse I hurled at it.