The following post is a comment we received on an article entitled “Moderate Drinking Harms Your Brains.” This man took a very strong stance against the idea of addiction being a disease. I thought the only fair thing to do is to publish it and see what you guys think. Have at it…
It’s a shame really that none of these “professionals” have actually responded to your post. I read it & was saddened. I still can’t believe that somebody could actually read that & right after that, hop on onto opening a new web-browser tab, in complete ignorance of your situation; without even a shred of tenderness. Well, I couldn’t. Unfortunately, am not much of a professional either. What would a Medical student barely done with his first year of study surely offer? Nothing much, but as I said earlier, I couldn’t ignore your post so I’ll try and give it my best shot. But don’t by this because addiction is a phenomenon that many have died trying to make sense of it to no avail. The crème de la crème of brains within the societies, the doctors, can barely figure out whether addiction is a disease or a choice. It’s that bad! (No wonder they ignored your post)
I spent my holiday researching on drug addiction, mainly from secondary sources. And I’ll share with you the little knowledge that I’ve gained, with the specific drug in mind being “alcohol”. Am training to be a medical doctor, so as a hard a concept as addiction maybe, I’ll take up the responsibility and tackle it from this point of view: addiction as a disease & not a choice. Many will disagree with me. “But addiction is a choice! You’ve been told to say NO to drugs but you went on ahead and said YES! It’s not like cancer, diabetes where you cannot exercise your constitutional freedom of choice” (this statement assumes that your country exercises this). Well, I won’t argue with this. Addiction as I said earlier has baffled many.
So, from my point of view, addiction as a disease. Addiction, like any other disease, involves a defect in a particular organ of the body. Unfortunately, when it comes to addiction, it is the most complex organ of them all that is being affected; the brain. Doctors may know everything about the liver, the kidneys but trust me, they only know a fraction of the brain. Consequently, crippling doctor’s efforts of treating this very curable disease of the brain: addiction. I’ll explain the little science behind it (the one they’ve been able to figure out so far) in the simplest manner possible. You’ve probably heard of the brain’s reward/pleasure system. When activated, this system reinforces behavior. For example: in the case of a drug addiction, the drug stimulates the brain to receive a reward, in this case a feeling of being high. A bit of more science: Addictive drugs causes a massive release of neurotransmitters (which bring about the sensation of pleasure) in the brain. This feeling of pleasure brings about a habit, a desire in fact, of doing that particular act that brings about that “on top of the world” sensation. The body on the other hand, being highly organized & demanding to always be in a state of balance, will down-regulate the number of receptors for this increased number of neurotransmitters. As a result, an even higher dosage of the drug will be required in order to acquire the pleasurable sensation. Result=addiction! The brain becomes heavily dependent on the drug to be able to experience simple sensations of pleasure. Therefore, on quitting the drug, the brain is no longer sensitive to the neurotransmitters involved in the various aspects of mood. This is where withdrawals set in: depression, anxiety, tremors etc. So simply put, “addiction messes with the biochemicals of the brain” it’s not as simple as a case of prom night poor decision-making. It even gets more complicated, as more and more chemicals are being identified as being involved. So treatment to this disease, unlike most others involves the hard and a lot of support, because again, it’s the brain here we’re talking about. Trying to convince the brain the perceiving, in this case, alcohol as a must for survival.
Recovery: Again I insist, you’ll need assistance. Be it medical assistance, support groups, psychotherapy because this is unlike all other diseases. This is a disease that has the brain on its side & mind you, the brain controls the rest of the body. So you may just be on your way to a rehabilitation center, after you’ve decided to put alcohol behind you only for the brain now in cohorts with the disease (for the first time ever), to walk you straight into a bar. Am a huge fan of the TV show The Vampire Diaries (am not sure the case is similar): Klaus, a hybrid vampire-werewolf, relieves werewolves of the pain of having to turn every full moon by making the like him and consequently, they become “sired” to him. Almost like alcohol, an addict is sired to it cause of its calming effect as a sedative. Takes away the withdrawals. Well, the show goes on and for a werewolf to break their “sire bondage” to Klaus, they have to experience the full pain package of turning into a werewolf (the very pain they had been alleviated from by turning into hybrids). And sadly so, to break the addiction, you’ve to experience the pain of the full moon. That’s why I say you’ll need plenty of help. With no more exposure to drugs and alcohol, the part of the brain involved in pleasure, motivation and relaxation slowly returns to normal. And as more and more doctors view this as a disease, more and more of them have come up with drugs that abet in quitting alcoholism. Some act by improving the brains sensitivity to the neuro transmitters, some mitigate the withdrawal symptoms. A good example is the drug paraxil that you tried using. Others include: GLA supplementation. All this though should be under the doctor’s prescription. Recovery and rehabilitation has become easier as more and more doctors view addiction as a diseases and hopefully more and more drugs will be formulated to combat this.
You now know what you have to do if you really want to leave alcoholism behind. You’ve complained of how you wish your be reminded of how alcoholism has left your life even more miserable right before you’re about to have a sip of that drink. Well, here’s me reminding you: nothing will change if you remain there hooked. The next 8 years will be as sh*tty as the last 8 (that is assuming liver cirrhosis will have pitied you for that long). Decide! Get help. Trust me, there are rehabilitation centers out there not out for your money which could actually. And as ive told, with doctors figuring out the science behind addiction and slowly coming up with medication, recovery has been made easier. I wish I was old enough and rich enough to have one you’ll have been admitted for free and done everything to help you. Decide to LIVE the next 8 years. Fall in love even!
I’ve barely slept writing this, I sure do hope it helps (sorry, barely had time to proof-read). Opening up about your situation was extraordinary. Many will learn from this. Give back to the society, share with them what you’ve been through so that they can learn. I also do hope this post helps somebody out there. Blessings, fortune & favor.