Addiction is a Chronic, Relapsing, and Fatal Disease
"When the idea was first presented to me that I was an alcoholic, my mind simply refused to accept it.
Horrors! How disgraceful!
What humiliation! How preposterous!
Why, I loathed the taste of liquor—drinking was simply a means of escape when my sorrows became too great for me to endure.
Even after it had been explained to me that alcoholism is a disease, I could not realize that I had it."
I am a good person with a bad disease >>
"In this personal story I have endeavored to relate something of my experience in the search for spiritual help rather than a description of the neurotic drinking that made the search necessary.
After all, the pattern of most alcoholic experiences fits a pretty general mold.
Experiences differ because of circumstances, environment, and temperament, but the after effects, both physical and mental, are almost identical.
It makes but little difference how or why man becomes an alcoholic once this disease manifests itself."
--from the Big Book of AA
Once addiction settles in, it never leaves. Like other diseases, it has a strong tendency to recur. Without treatment, it is uniformly fatal.
Addiction is an illness that affects the mind, the body, and the spirit. It is not a moral weakness, although by the time we come into the rooms, we are morally and spiritually bankrupt. The problem is not a lack of self-will. We are not sinners who have succumbed to the temptation of the Devil’s own demon rum. We have a disease.
I am a good person with a bad disease
If I were a bad person, there would be little hope for me. But I am a good person (actually a Child of God). I just have a bad disease, in fact a fatal one. But that disease is treatable.
Earth People don't understand
About 10% of the world’s population have the disease in one form or another. The other 90% have no idea what we are talking about. They don’t understand why we just can’t quit, like they did. They have never experienced the withdrawal, the craving, or the horrific need to use. It is a waste of time to attempt to explain it to them. Don’t try. It takes one alcoholic to understand another.
The core of the illness rests in a physical condition that is poorly understood. It has been suggested that it is an abnormal enzymatic handling of molecular sugar, but nobody knows for sure. It may well have many different causes.
but can skip generations. It can take many forms (see). It can begin as a very young person or it can present itself at a much older age. It is not related to how much I used or how often. Just drinking a lot will not make you an addict. You have to be born with the predisposition.
Addiction is like diabetes
Both are chronic and have potentially fatal consequences. In each there is an invisible line which, when crossed, defines the disease. Once a diabetic crosses the line, he will never be able to eat sugar normally again. Once an addict crosses the line, he will never be able to drink or drug like Earth people again.
Just as a raisin can never go back to being a grape, the diabetic and the addict will never be able to go back to being normal. Our diseases will never go away. Therefore, we need a treatment that will keep the disease at bay on a daily basis. Insulin is only good for one day. So is recovery.
The relapse rate for newcomers remains high. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that 40-60% of recovering drug addicts relapse within the first few months. This percentage is not all that different from the relapse rates for other chronic illnesses, like diabetes, hypertension, or asthma. But it doesn’t have to happen. (see relapse prevention). Even if it does, I can still make it.
Addiction, they say, has three possible outcomes: institutions, jail, and death. The natural outcome of untreated disease is always death. Whether the addiction is heroin, sex, or gambling, death is inescapable end point. What’s wonderful is that successful treatment of addiction not only holds the allergy and the craving at bay, it restores our lives to happy, useful ones.