Why is it up to alcoholics to help themselves?

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How often I have heard,  “it’s up to the alcoholic to help themselves.” I have also heard and read that the medical profession now considers alcoholism a disease.

So this is what I don’t get. If this is a disease – what is the medical treatment? The lack of medication is certainly not because it is a mental illness, because many mental illnesses have medications to help.

There are a number of medications to help depression for example. They exist for both chronic depression and situational depression.

There are medications to help people stop smoking – patches and pills. They don’t work on everyone, but at least they are available and help some people.

So what’s with alcoholism?

Maybe society really doesn’t WANT to eradicate or reduce alcoholism????

What are your thoughts?

– Peg

8 Comments on "Why is it up to alcoholics to help themselves?"

  1. I often wonder the same thing…
    I was just at an event where the Governor Shumlin spoke powerfully about his support for treatment, and recovery and not treating alcoholics and addicts like criminals. “It should be treated as a disease” was I think what he said. Nods of approval all around the room.
    Yet, many that were at the event believe that the solution is in a higher power and not in drugs and medications. But wait, it is a disease, or isn’t it?
    I agree Peg, it is a difficult contradiction.

  2. The prevailing opinion is that alcoholism is a disease. Why should that have anything to do with the question of whether or not those suffering from alcohol use disorder need to help themselves? Whatever disease you have, you must become familiar with not only the medications that help but with other therapies that are available whether it be exercise or support groups or meditation or behavioral changes or any other of a host of treatment options. You need education, support, a treatment plan and dedication to combatting whatever disease you have. I think it is tried and true that the more work we put into something, the greater satisfaction we have for the accomplishment of our goal.

    • Elaine, I agree that it shouldn’t be any different than other diseases re taking responsibility for getting treatment. However, I don’t think that is generally how the populace interprets – “they must help themselves”. I think the general impression is that treatments – and in particular – medications – are not to be used to help alcohol use disorders – but that it must come from within themselves and their moral character. Thanks for posting.

  3. Peg -great question-post-question. Why is alcoholism (or AUD -Alcohol Use Disorder) even considered a disease at all? After all, alcohol is just something to have a little fun and relaxation with -right? Surly, any human can stop drinking alcohol if they really want to -right? Just say no -just stop. Why will these drunks just not do what do is morally responsible?

    Incredible. I, as a person who was once consumed by alcohol from the moment I woke till the time-s that I passed out, could not fathom the idea that other people thought that I intentionally chose to be in such misery and pain. Peg, I am talking about pain and suffering that is indescribable. My three young adult sons and wife were my literal ‘life savers’. In my final stages -before my soon to be death or before recovery, I had physically and mentally changed. I guess that I am fortunate that they knew me before the mental disorder completely changed my life.
    My brain had molecularly changed and therefore all other aspects about me had changed. At the time of final stage alcoholism, I somehow had the knowledge to realize that there must be a medical answer to this horrid situation I found myself in. I wanted out of the alcohol cycle more than anything else in the world -I knew that I was quickly dying and that I did intentionally intend to do so.

    Research led me to a drug called ‘Baclofen’. I was very “lucky” to find an outpatient center that would eventually prescribe this medication to me. Initially, it was a very difficult path to follow -baclofen and the removal of alcohol from my life. But today, 1 year and 6 months later, I sit here -alcohol free and happy, and I am type a message to others about freedom from alcohol. This is ONLY as a result of medication that ‘re-wired’ my brain and a subconscious will to live.

    Thank you for the white board, and if you read this, the time you spent reading. We must have advocates for MEDICATIONS FOR ALCOHOLISM if we expect people to live free and happy lives away from chemical dependency.

  4. Alcoholism Is not really Considered a disease despite the polite, politically correct lip service we give the notion. And the scientific community isn't funding research into the search for a cure and won't since the Higher Power is accepted as a solution | September 24, 2014 at 10:30 pm | Reply

    Alcoholism Is not really Considered a disease despite the polite, politically correct lip service we give the notion. And the scientific community isn’t funding research into the search for a cure and won’t since the Higher Power is accepted as a solution which excuses the scientific community’s inaction. It’s a vicious cycle that leaves the alcoholic uncared for.

  5. The dis-ease of alcoholism or what is now referred to AUD (alcohol use disorder).

    As one who has now recovered from this horrid disease, one of my primary hopes is that people not afflicted by this disease will come to understand that alcoholism (AUD) is as deadly and harmful as any of our known cancers.

    Two things are critically important for our societies to recognize and understand:

    (1) Most importantly, is the fact that there are medications now available (the two primary are off-label) that address alcoholism and relapse.

    (2) 99% of all alcoholics and addicts do not choose to be in a condition that requires them to continue the abuse of their drug of choice.

    It is critically important that we, as a society, continue to try and joint together and bring information and support to those who are in dire circumstances -those who are ashamed to even admit that they have a disease that is destroying them. It does not have to be this way.

  6. Hi Scott-

    You bring too much common sense to the table. Thanks for this most valid post.

  7. Nancy Divalentino | November 19, 2021 at 2:23 pm | Reply

    My 46year old son died from liver failure August 30, 2021. He suffered pancreatitis 3-4 years before his death brought on by alcohol. I went to Al-anon support
    meetings and family group support meetings. Never was this medication mentioned. My son never talked to me about wanting to stop drinking. He lived in Ma. and I live in Pa. He didn’t get help from his wife of 10 years nor a girlfriend he had after his divorce. All of us are ingrained with, “ the alcohol abuser can only help himself, no one can do it for him, let him become homeless, jobless, hungry till they are ready to seek help”. My son was going to punch his step father in his face because he wanted to take him to a local rehab.
    When my son was told he was in liver failure by a doctor, he sped up the dying process by only drinking vodka and beer. I got to him in time to have an ambulance take him to the hospital where he was detoxed, given blood, platelets, antibiotics , fluids only
    to die 3 weeks later. I thank God that I had time with him with no alcohol in his system. In that 3 weeks he accepted Christ as his savior and I know I will see him again
    In Heaven though we would have liked for him too have survived to live longer in his alcohol free life.

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