As an addiction counselor, I am occasionally asked whether an alcoholic must remain abstinent or can they learn to drink in moderation, that is drink socially? In other words, “Will I always be an alcoholic?”
Alcoholism Treatment Programs
The confusion over this question stems from the way alcoholism is couched in our culture’s lore. True, we’ve all heard that alcoholism is a disease, but who really treats it that way? Start scratching the surface of AA and alcoholism treatment programs today and you’ll find the primary emphasis most of them focus on is behavior. Sure a disease of the body and brain will affect behavior, but only a fool would believe that behavior therapy is going to correct the disease that produced the behavior to begin with.
Yet, this is the mainstay of alcoholism treatment today: a plethora of behavior therapies and/or 12-step ideas (Alcoholism Treatment: An Industry Of Clones) that tell alcoholics to get their heads straight by reviewing their past indiscretions and asking for forgiveness from a Higher Power.
Alcoholics are taught to see themselves as powerless, and they are, not because God won’t forgive them, but because treatment refuses to teach them the truth about the disease that’s destroying them.
The Blueprint of Life
It all makes for a lucrative industry with alcoholics coming and going over and over again. I don’t mean to imply that counselors and therapists harbor malicious intent to take advantage of alcoholics, more likely it’s ignorance fostered by the cultural distortions that have confused them to only see aberrant behavior without understanding the chemical distortions that are the true essence of the disease.
Fortunately science is not so blind. Amazing discoveries in recent years have found distinctive variations in peoples’ chemistries. The blueprint of life, with its infinite variations, is slowly coming into focus. When science tells us alcoholism is a disease, the reference is to a genetic disorder, stemming from unique biochemical features that create different effects in the presence of alcohol. These effects cannot be altered.
If you have inherited the chemistry for alcoholism, you are an alcoholic—even if you never take a drink. It is the biochemistry that defines the disease, not the behavior.
Therefore, when an alcoholic asks me, “Will I always be an alcoholic,” I always answer truthfully. Yes, your chemistry will always lead you to a loss of control, no matter how much you pray, or how years you spend on a therapist couch, or how many times you go through treatment. It is who you are, as unchangeable as the color of your eyes.
Although it may not be the answer they were hoping for, it doesn’t have to equate to a life of misery.
The solution is to correct and maintain biochemical balance using an orthomolecular protocol. Unfortunately treatment programs don’t offer this kind of approach, opting for therapy and pharmaceuticals instead. Amazingly, even with that short-sighted approach, without biochemical repair, some alcoholics do achieve sobriety and maintain it for several weeks, months, even years (for a few strong-willed die hards).
However, abstinence alone does not repair the physical damage caused by the alcohol, nor does it alter the chemistry that introduced alcoholism to these poor souls in the first place. For them, abstinence is uncomfortable, and indefinite, precariously balanced on the edge of relapse.
On the other hand, if treatment started addressing cause instead of talking about symptoms alcoholic’s lives would dramatically improve. The biochemical repair pioneered and refined for over 35 years at Health Recovery Center is the answer to correcting chemistry and finding joy with abstinence, even for alcoholics!