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Thread: is being a drunk a disease?

  1. #1
    Senior Member ~Patrick~'s Avatar
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    Jul 2002

    is being a drunk a disease?

    I got into a friendly argument today with a lady. We were talking about a "customer" when she said something about being an alchoholic is a terrible disease. I disagree. You dont go to the doctor and he say "Pat, I'm sorry to say it but you are an alchoholic." Oh no doctor. How did I catch this? My argument is that you CHOOSE to drink, regardless if mommy and daddy drank. Her argument was herredity. I agree if you are expossed to it all your life as a child you are de-sensitized to the effects, even though you know what they are. But you cant convince me there is a Budwieser gene just itching for you to drink a beer. Im sorry but I dont want to here about how bad of a drunk your mom and dad were. The choice is still up to you if you want to drink or not.

    What is your thoughts on this?

  2. #2
    Actually there is some pretty good evidence for a genetic link to a tendency to develop dependency on alcohol. Of course environment and coping style/skills are also a big factor as well. Some of this accounts for the higher rate of alcoholism seen in certain ethnic groups such as Native Americans.

    I remember being at a workshop one time on alcoholism and hearing that a marker for this behaviorably is how the person experiences their first drink. If they say "yuk" and feel a little nauseated, they are less likely to develop alcoholism than the person who says it was a peak life experience for them and that it was pleasurable. It appears that a "taste" for alcohol may be significantly genetic. Of course this does not mean that people who enjoy drinking will all end up alcoholics, but they are at much higher risk.


  3. #3
    Senior Member alan's Avatar
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    Jul 2001
    Baltimore, MD
    There may well be a genetic tendency that makes some individuals more likely than others to become alcoholics, but that doesn't change the fact that one has to choose to drink alcohol. If a person chooses to never takes a drink, that genetic tendency, if they have it, is immaterial. Can't become an alcoholic without a first drink.

    On the other hand, one can catch or develop a disease without doing anything to initiate it.

  4. #4
    I think it's a choice. I was raised with my dad downing a twelve-pack a day and I don't care for drinking. An occasional one [not beer, mixed drink , probably one a year at the most] is fine.

    BTW, my dad quit the day I broke my neck and hasn't picked one up sense. Almost 7 years.


  5. #5
    If that's true, then smoking would be a disease too.

    Learn from the mistakes of others, you won't live long enough to make all of them yourself.

  6. #6
    Senior Member kate's Avatar
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    Jan 2002
    bellevue, wa, usa
    Drinking is of course a choice, whether you're an alcoholic or not. Having that certain physiological/chemical/psychological set of reactions to what drink does for you is not a choice.

    Lots of people who are definitely alcoholics don't drink at all--by choice. But that doesn't mean they're no longer alcoholics, as they will be the first to tell you. Does this mean it's a "disease"? Who cares? In my experience, the only people who want to argue this question are the ones who are hoping they don't have it!

  7. #7
    Senior Member dogger's Avatar
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    Jun 2002
    Mitchell , Qld. Australia
    Kate , good point ! that is why i avoid/ignore discussions on this topic .
    thank you

    every day i wake up is a good one .

  8. #8
    Senior Member ~Patrick~'s Avatar
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    Jul 2002
    Hey Kate! I never thought of that. Maybe she is a closet drunk. That would explain alot.

  9. #9
    Senior Member
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    Mar 2002
    Aiken, SC USA


    Many people who drink to alcoholism, become drug addicts, come down with AIDs because of behavioral reasons, want to believe they have a disease rather than take responsibility for their actions.

  10. #10
    Actually, the AMA classified alcoholism as an illness in 1956. There's a wealth of info about the AMA and alcoholism at this link:

    Redneck, your statement about alcoholism is ignorant .. in order for an alcoholic to recover, they HAVE to take responsibility for their actions. Otherwise they contnue to blame others and deny that they have any problems.

    I speak from experience .. I am an alcoholic and drug addict and have stayed clean and sober for more than 27 years. I only have a choice when I'm sober, if I drink then I have no way of predicting how much I will consume or what I will do. I knew this was true of me when I was sixteen .. my "solution" then was to just smoke pot instead. Yeah, I didn't go crazy, but I just sat around and ate. Nice way to live ...

    I agree with SCI-NURSE's statement about a genetic link .. it certainly runs in my family. I have also heard of research that demonstrates that alcoholics metabolize alcohol differently than non-alcoholics, but I don't know whether that is genetic or the result of long-term alcohol consumption. In my case, I believe I was alcoholic from the first time I drank.

    So what's the attitude about and where does AIDS fit in? A friend of mine is dying of AIDS right now and he's one of the most responsible people I've ever known.

    - Bruce

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