Alcoholism is not only a chronic disease it is also progressive and in some instances fatal.
What is alcoholism?
Alcoholism is the physical dependence on any mind or mood altering substance and the continued use regardless of consequences. Alcoholism is not a moral deficiency but rather a disease of the mind, body and spirit. Most people who become alcoholic cannot stop using drugs or drinking simply because they want to or “will” themselves to. Most people who suffer from addiction or alcoholism must seek outside help or an outside solution to help them get sober and then remain sober as they journey into recovery.
Like diabetes and cancer, alcoholism is a primary disease. This means that it is not a symptom of another disease, nor is it a personality flaw, moral weakness, mental illness, or lack of willpower. Alcoholism is not the result of drinking too much. Rather, the body of an alcoholic responds quite differently to the ingestion of alcohol than does the body of a non-alcoholic.
How is alcoholism progressive?
There is no cure for alcoholism, but there is treatment. Since alcoholism is a progressive disease, it always gets worse without treatment – it never gets better. Alcoholism causes biological, psychological, social and spiritual problems, and as the disease progresses, the person’s ability to function declines. All of the body is affected. Personality changes are the result from brain impairments to the person’s thinking and functioning. They think, feel, and behave differently than before, yet regard the way they are acting as normal. Social or relationship problems begin to happen in the family, the community, and at work. The alcoholic may handle the loss of his or her spouse and family due to chemical dependency, and withdraw from social contacts which do not involve drinking.
Why is alcoholism a chronic disease?
A non-chronic disease has a relatively quick onset, and the affected person is very aware of its sudden presence. But alcoholism is a chronic disease, meaning that it develops gradually over a period of time – sometimes measured in years. This helps to understand why there may be a long period of time between being well and acknowledging the presence of the disease. Problems or symptoms are present, but they are typically attributed to some cause other than chemical dependence, for instance, a bad marriage, working too hard, “unfair” supervisors, etc. People with alcoholism and family members deny that they have this disease for a long time. It is important to realize that such denial is not the same as lying. Rather, it is a matter of being convinced that problems or symptoms are due to something (anything) other than alcoholism. Denial of the disease is part of the chronic disease process, and breaking through that wall of denial is an extremely difficult process.
So why is alcoholism a chronic disease?
Because it gradually persists without any acknowledgement from the alcoholic that they have it. Alcoholism is not a moral failing but a disease that is in the worst way possible very fatal as well as chronic and progressive.