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Leaf Image Addiction and Alcoholism - definitions and strategies.

What is Addiction?

Addiction is a primary, progressive, and fatal illness which responds to medical treatment.  If left untreated, addictions result in insanity and premature death.  Addiction has also been described as a pathological relationship to a substance, person, behavior or process.  The idea that addicts are weak willed or morally corrupt has long ago been debunked. That attitude keeps chemically dependent people from seeking treatment and fosters shame and fear around their illness.   Addict / alcoholics and the people who love them are often the last to accept the disease concept - this relates to shame, denial and the need to prove they are in control.

"Shaming" addicts for their use and using behavior is counter productive, creates barriers to recovery, and greatly complicates the recovery process once begun.  Addicts medicate shame, fear, anger and pain. Chemically dependent people feel enormous shame as it is - adding to this shame is not only cruel, but may spur greater use.  Increasing the burden of shame may lead to overdose and / or suicide. 

What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is a form of chemical dependency.  Alcohol and nicotine are the most common drugs of dependency in the United States.  Alcoholics are addicts; though people with a drinking problem often make a clear distinction between the two terms.  At base the disease is the same, it is merely the drug of choice that differs.

Select this link for more information about the Disease Concept.  Untreated addicts and alcoholics often refuse to accept the disease concept, clinging desperately to the notion that addiction is a matter of willpower.  This relates to their shame, denial and desperate need to prove that they are in control.

link Addiction Link of the Month:

New research verifies a bio-chemical basis for the disease of addiction.

" medications for both nicotine addiction and alcoholism are on the way, now that scientists realize that addictions stem from much more than "an addictive personality" or weak will. The remedies being tested actually target the cascade of neurochemical events at the root of addicts' cravings." 

--By Kristin Leutwyler, staff writer, and Alan Hall, contributing writer, Scientific American.

Addictions can be divided into two general catagories:

bullet Chemical Addictions:
Drugs and Alcohol 
bullet Process Addictions:
Food / Eating Disorders, sexual addiction, work, codependency, people and relationships,  love addiction, Self Harm - Mutilation,  etc.     

If you have an addict or alcoholic in your life the prudent course is compassionate and loving confrontation of their addictive behavior coupled with presenting a treatment option. (This is called Intervention.   Search for . )

Addicts and alcoholics cannot be "made to recover" - effective recovery work requires personal willingness.  If someone you love has a problem you can (and should) confront their use and using behaviors. You cannot control, cure or fix the problem. Sometimes you have to let go and let them continue in the addiction until things get so bad that their misery outweighs their fear of change.

If you are reading this for someone else - you may wish to learn more about codependency.

Think you may have a drug or alcohol problem? Take this self test. 

Looking for Treatment? Use the Treatment Center Search Engine





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Note on Authorship: this website was created by a recovering addict and survivor; I am not a chemical dependency therapist or mental health professional. Except as otherwise cited, opinions offered here are the result of my own life experience and a great deal of reading in the Recovery and Mental Health fields.  You may cite this site for academic reference, however in keeping with twelve step traditions regarding anonymity I request you identify the author as "Will H. - Webmaster" 

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Medical Policy: This site is based on twelve step programs of recovery - the information here is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to supplant or replace consultation with qualified medical professionals.