Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Drinking with the 'devil'
When I think of an alcoholic, I typically envision a middle-aged guy with a bright red nose, telling stories a little too loudly at a bar. So, when I recently heard 50 percent of alcohol dependence starts before age 21 and 75 percent starts before age 25, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), I was shocked. Alcoholism, it seems, has become a disorder of young people, far too young.

In some ways, it is not surprising, given that your risk of alcoholism is 60 percent genetically determined and only about 40 percent environmentally determined, according to NIAAA. While it is not guaranteed the child of an alcoholic will become one, it certainly is more likely. If you have a history of alcohol abuse in a parent or sibling, you have a fourfold greater risk than someone without that family history.

What is also amazing is the earlier you start drinking, the more likely you will continue to drink your entire life. Your brain actually adapts in some ways to the alcohol. Think of it like this -- you have two counteracting forces in the brain. One is the devil on your shoulder telling you take a sip -- that is called the amygdala. The other is the angel, warning you of the dangers -- that is the frontal lobes. In children who start drinking, the frontal lobes throw in the towel early and let the amygdala, or devil, control their actions.

That may have been what happened to Richard Preston, a 61-year-old you will meet on tonight's show. He only drinks ice tea now, after ten whiskies a day for much of his life. It seems the liver transplant finally scared him enough to stop. He tells us first hand, however, what his life was like as someone who was completely dependent on alcohol. The ravaging headaches, remarkable weight gain, and dulled senses.

Have you ever wondered what alcohol really does to your body and to your liver? I will show you tonight, and I warn you -- it is not pretty. For many doctors, treating alcoholism is not about blame or circumstance, it is understanding the science of alcoholism. Yes, there is a science to it, and if you learn it, it may just keep you away from another drink.
Posted By Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN Medical Correspondent: 3:52 PM ET
  57 Comments
Alcohol is "the devil". The number of broken relationships and heartache I have seen in my life from the abuse of this substance is stagering.
Posted By Anonymous Brenda Livingston, Texas : 4:17 PM ET
As a child of two alcholics, I was told I have a 90% chance of becoming one. My brother and I have made a complete change and drink very seldomly, if at all. However my sister is an alcholic. There needs to be awareness in schools and religious institutions about this dangerous addiction to those who are at risk. It was a high school counselor who raised the issue with me letting me know that unlike other kids, I had to be extremely careful because of my family history. I just came back from a doctor's appt with one of my children. There was a list of diseases to check off for family history. Alcholism was not one. Had it been diabetes the doc would have surely addressed it. The stigma we give those addicted to alchol just perpetuates the problem.
Posted By Anonymous Mary, Washington, D.C. : 4:24 PM ET
I know first hand how alcoholism can adversely affect your life. I am a college student and alcohol is a way of life around most campuses. My 20 year old roommate is an alcoholic struggling to overcome the disease. I personally feel that if people knew how dangerous it actually is less people would drink. Alcohol education needs to start earlier in schools.
Posted By Anonymous Monica, Indianapolis IN : 4:34 PM ET
When I was in college, too many of my fellow students spent a lot of time partying and binge drinking. While I was working they were getting that high off of something that was legal for those over 21 and socially acceptable.

If it was crack we would be horrified. Too often we overlook problems like these until it's too late.
Posted By Anonymous Liz, Montgomery, AL : 4:43 PM ET
I'm tired of people calling alcoholism a disease. I come from a family of alcoholics, and my family members who drank made every excuse not to get help. While there is chemical processes involved here, there is still no valid excuse for deciding to take the risk in the first place. They chose to open their mouths and drink it!
Posted By Anonymous Kerri Beaudoin, Corinth, TX : 4:44 PM ET
My aunt (by marriage) was an alcholic. After injuring herself badly, she finally went into rehab. When she returned, she was like a new person. I told her often I very proud I was of her ability to admit her addiction, to seek help, and to stay sober. I have two friends who are recovering alcholics and drug users, both are now "sober and clean" and ordained pastors. I have other friends (former addicts and alcholics)in my church,who facilite a wonderful program called "Celebrate Recovery." There are people who know what it is like to be addicted to something and there is help! If you are an addict, go and get help! There are many who will not condemn you, but will accept and help you. I am not a recovering addict, but I am an ordanined pastor, and I will never "look dodwn" on anyone who is trying to get and stay sober and clean. None of us are perfect, all of us have some kind of problem--even and including pastors!
Posted By Anonymous Ann, Newton, IA : 4:49 PM ET
As a former alcoholic and cocaine addict and now work in a Christian Recovery program, I have seen so much devestation to families because of the abuse of alcohol and other drugs. The problem is at epidemic proportions around the world. Alcohol is still seen as not being a drug and kids are willing to try it, it is a shame and we have failed at every attempt and campaign to stop kids from experimenting. It must start with parents being involved in the childrens lives and being good examples themselves.
Posted By Anonymous Todd, Stuart Florida : 4:57 PM ET
It's sad that this nation as a majority show's alcohol to be OK. In my opinion as a previous alcoholic, one drink is too many. I never picked up that first drink and said I want to stay drunk all the time. A lot of people think that alcohol in moderation is OK, but in moderation still leads to alcoholism. Go ahead and talk to any parent that has lost a child from a person driving drunk, I'll bet they will say it's OK to have a couple as long as it's in moderation. I doubt it.
Posted By Anonymous Anonymous, Bristol TN : 4:58 PM ET
Frankly it is not surprising that the majority of alcholism cases start before legal drinking age in this country.

The absurd laws in the US (unlike all other western nations) have taken away a parents ability to teach their children about responsible alcohol use in responsible settings, such as a restaurant or wedding.

Instead, this illegality has resulted in our children learning how to handle drinking from their peers. Children teaching other children how to drink naturally leads to irresponsible behavior - especially when it occurs behind closed doors away from any adult supervision.

So sadly, I am not surprised by these statistics, and expect them only to get worse.
Posted By Anonymous Ron Hester, Fairfax, VA : 5:00 PM ET
Thanks for reporting on this topic. People really are way to clueless about the effects of alcohol on the body- especially the long term ones.
I hope this information is a part of your "Fit Nation" talks on the college campuses and eventually filters down to high schools. It is really scary that 50% of alcohol dependence starts before kids are even the legal drinking age.
Posted By Anonymous Jennifer, Durham NC : 5:01 PM ET
"...and if you learn it, it may just keep you away from another drink."
It ain't necessarily so, not if you're an alcoholic, because alcoholics are masters and mistresses of denial. "I'm not like that..." or "I only drink beer". Sadly, a lot of them keep repeating these refrains all the way to an early grave. It's a long, slow, painful road to suicide.
Posted By Anonymous Craig Tulsa Oklahoma : 5:02 PM ET
I hope to watch this after my Tuesday AA meeting. For those who see it, if you think you have a problem, you probably do (non-alcoholic people don't wonder, BTW) Alcholics Anonymous offers the best odds of recovery -- close to 3 in 4. Go to a meeting and listen. And you do not have to drink to suffer from alcoholism. If you have a loved one with an alcohol problem, call your local Al-Anon Family Group; their number is in the phone book.
Posted By Anonymous MPF, Austin, Texas : 5:07 PM ET
After years of alcohol abuse ending in two DUI's, jail time, lost career, and three failed marriages I am finally on the road to recovery. It has been the hardest thing to quit and I don't think I will ever be fully recovered. I watched my father kill himself and was well on the way myself. Suicide is painfully slow with alcohol.
Posted By Anonymous Judd Wilcox, Atlanta, Ga. : 5:08 PM ET
i don't believe that alcohol, in and of itself, is the problem. it's the individual's choice whether or not to fix the problem. don't tell me an addict doesn't have a choice. they always do, they just make the easier one, though it may not seem easier to those they're hurting.

i don't understand how parents can insist the government be responsible for educating their children about the dangers of alcohol, drugs or smoking. is the government also responsible for educating you child about sticking their fingers in light sockets? the problem of alcoholism is typically borne from the problems that keep parents from being effective educators of their children.

for your information, i'm a 4th generation alcoholic, from both sides of my family. every time i pop the top of a beer i'm making a choice. i'd be better off if i made a different choice, but i just want to drink beer. at least i don't drink and drive or have any children in my care.
Posted By Anonymous M.I. Farmington, MN : 5:09 PM ET
Thank you Dr. Gupta for doing this story. My younger sister is an addict / alcoholic. She has been in rehab more times than I can even count. I believe she wants to be free from this torture, but hasn't been able to do it. She says she started drinking and using drugs in middle school... around 13 years of age. She was in her first rehab at age 16. The hard part is watching her kill herself one drink at a time. I remember one Spring Break (home from college) my father and I spent days going from one crack house to another searching for her. I kept screaming at him that we were going to be killed and he kept saying God will take care of us (He was a minister for 27 years). I will never forget the pain on my fathers face when the police would call saying she was in the ER (close to death from alcohol and drugs.) All of this started with one drink. I can only hope this story will touch lives. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Posted By Anonymous Cheryl Welch, Raleigh NC : 5:18 PM ET
I'm 20 years old and it the past 6 years I can honestly say I know about 15 plus people who have been killed drinking and driving. Half were my friends and one of them my best friend! I'm from a small town in Mississippi and there wasn't much to do except ride around and drink. I admit I drank alot, but now I see what the devil is capable of doing. I have won my battle with the devil by just being a DD to all my frineds when they go out. We have to stop this devil drinking before it kills more kids.
Posted By Anonymous Carol Ann, Ft. Myers, FL : 5:20 PM ET
I am 23. A recovering alcoholic and addict. I went into treatment when I was 19. I couldn't even buy it legally, but it was more socially acceptable than drugs. My main problem was the alcohol though.
Alcoholism and drug addiction IS a disease. It is progressive and fatal. I know for me, I had no choice in drinking or not. I had delerium tremons at 5:00 when I got off work and it was worse on Fridays.
People die from this disease. I have seen many people die either from overdose, suicide, or just because there body couldn't take the abuse anymore.
I am glad that there is more of an awareness of this. I thought alcoholics lived under bridges with beer or wine in paper bags. That is not the case at all. I am glad to be clean and sober today.
Posted By Anonymous BJS, Louisiana : 5:21 PM ET
First of all, these are bogus stats. There is no way to determine when alcoholism starts. I could also say that 10% of alcoholism begins in children, and if enough of the press reports it, it will be considered conventional wisdom and repeated as a truth. Secondly, I am so tired of hearing that alcoholism is a disease. Cancer is a disease, AIDS is a disease, Sickle-cell anemia is a disease, Alzheimer's is a disease. Alcoholism, just like any addiction is a weakness.
Posted By Anonymous Patrick, Columbus, Ohio : 5:21 PM ET
I have never understood how someone who has lived around an alcoholic can become one. I know the odds say they will, but seeing what I saw as a child scared the hell out of me. I knew at a young age that I would not be traveling the path that my grandfather followed.
Posted By Anonymous Phebe, Phoenix, AZ : 5:23 PM ET
I think that alcohol is like owning a gun- yes, you can choose how you use it.

I believe in drinking responsibly, because that's what I do. I have maybe 3 beers a month, if that much.

I don't need alcohol to have a good time, but I can have a good time with alcohol.

Used responsibly, alcohols like wines and beers can aid in many helth problems, from thinning blood to possibly preventing cancer.
Posted By Anonymous C.E., charleston, wv : 5:25 PM ET
Seriously now .... To you who think that people have a choice and that it is their own fault because they choose to drink. While partly true .... How cool do advertisers make it to drink ? Beer commercials are present at every broadcast of a sporting event ... Here in Houston I recently lost my favorite radio station to a mexican radio station due to the fact that mexican males drink more beer than white males in Houston so the beer advertisers influenced Clear Channel to change the format to suit them .... Bottom line is this ..................
We make it seem really cool to have beer in your hand .... I mean come on when you see the commercials .... Hot women and good times .... In reality we know this is not true but every kid watching football on Sunday can't wait to get a beer.

In America it is all about the dollar... Who cares about health....

I do and alcohol has played a major factor in things in my life that have gone wrong from abusive addict parents to friends and relatives being killed by drunk drivers ... To you and me a big deal but to advertisers it is just a statistic ....
Posted By Anonymous Howard, Houston Texas : 5:31 PM ET
Alcohol is glamorized in this society. It is sexualized and marketed to be fun and cool. I think that the majority of people understand the dangers, but believe they can control themselves. That is the problem with most indulgences in America--smoking, recreational drug use, pornography, food. We are an arrogant society--just look at the national politics. I wish that we could praise people who DON'T get addicted more than we praise people who "get off" the booze. That's a bigger accomplishment. Don't misunderstand me, I recognize that alcoholism is a disease, and since I have seen it in my family, I have always been aware the dangers of being too self-confident.
Posted By Anonymous Paige B., Austin, TX : 5:31 PM ET
I recall an old friend coming into town some years back. He came up to me at a bar I was out at with some friends. I knew this guy was "clean" now, but I also knew his history: drinking at 13, smoking pot at 15, coke in high school and then God only knows...

Anyway, he says to me, "You have a problem." I responded, "I do?" And he proceeded to tell me a few beers every night after work was a "problem." Maybe in a text book it is. But I just love how its always these guys who flew too close to the flame who tell us about our "problems."
Posted By Anonymous Mike Rumson, NJ : 5:33 PM ET
Sadly, too, it appers that young women are catching up the guys in this regard, as they are in automobile accidents and rates of smoking.
Posted By Anonymous Tom, Arlington, Va. : 5:34 PM ET
Being 25 and coming from a family of "Drunks". I just want to say that drinking is a decision, either you want to have a drink or you don't. When i was in high school my best freind and I drank every night for 49 days straight. Bad idea? Yeah it was but I did not need to drink thats just what kids in small towns do. No movie theater or community center for us to go to. Not that we would have gone if there were one but its all about options. If your a "Drunk" and dont want to be one DONT DRINK! Its pretty easy to keep drinking when there are doctors saying its not your fault, its a sickness. If you do not want to be a DRUNK grow some balls and put the beer down! I did without any help. But if you want to meet single people AA might be a good option for you.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Austin Texas : 5:35 PM ET
The hardest part of admitting you're an alcoholic is realizing it first. Not every Alcoholic wakes up and goes to bed with a bottle in hand. There is also the type of alcoholic that once they have that first drink, it's almost impossible to stop. That was me. Unfortunately, it took one too many negative events before I knocked the Monkey off of my back, but it was a very difficult thing to do. I am real curious to what it is that makes the dependancies different. Cheers~ (no pun...)
Posted By Anonymous Jay, Atlanta-GA : 5:36 PM ET
One of the best recovery programs around to treat the disease of alcoholism is Alcoholics Anonymous, known as just "AA". There, fellow alcoholics can share and learn from others' experience, strength and hope. A sponsor will guide you through recovery, following a tried and true method known as simply, the 12-Steps. AA is the "mother" of all personal recovery programs and has been a tremendous help to millions of alcoholics over the years.
Anything else (ie, a pill or hypnosis, etc) is simply a sham and misses the best qualities of the Alcoholics Anonymous recovery program: Remember, recovery is possible and available to all, young and old. Not to stop drinking is also an option - and leads to misery and death.
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Danbury CT : 5:44 PM ET
Many young children become alcoholic long before their teenage years. They often get it from either irresponsible adults who think its funny to give the kid a drink, or older siblings. If the children are cut off from alcohol, they will try and get some mouthwash for its alcohol content. Many years ago the hospital I worked at opened a unit for childhood addicts (drugs and alcohol). I was astonished at what I saw there.
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Wentzville, Missouri : 5:47 PM ET
Alcoholism is a disease for weak people. I have drank too much in my day,and will continue to, but I have NEVER became dependant on it, or had a relationship ruined due to alcohol. I think that stronger willed people realize that there are Oother ways to deal with your problems rather then hitting the bottle. Everything in moderation
Posted By Anonymous Amanda, New york, NY : 5:47 PM ET
i was drunk for 28 years at 3-4 quarts of vodka a week and finally quit 3 years ago. i got 5 dui's and still managed to keep a good job. a miracle really. didn't really want to quit, but i did.

the world was a better place when i was drunk and i miss the drink dearly. but for my loved ones, i quit.

there's an emptiness for the reformed drinker; one guy said, "i was a thief when i was drunk, then i sobered up. now i'm a sober thief."
Posted By Anonymous catster, omaha, neb : 5:49 PM ET
Alcoholism also affects those who are close to the alcoholic in ways just as devastating as those who are drinking. Al Anon is an incredible, life-saving support system for those touched by the disease, and in a dose of reality, there are more Al-Anon meetings in the U.S. than there are McDonalds.
Posted By Anonymous S. Paul, Las Vegas, NV : 5:51 PM ET
As a child of an alcoholic and the wife of a recovering drunk (eight years sober, and I'm more proud than he could ever know), it irks me to no end when alcoholism is referred to as a disease.

Every drunk makes the choice to feed the monster, each time they reach for a bottle. You cannot be an alcoholic if you do not drink. Not so with other, real diseases, which can afflict without help from the victim.

Furthermore, labelling alcoholism as a disease does a disservice to others with real diseases- it implies that diseases are somehow indiciative of your character or behaviour, which can be true, in some cases. However, not everyone who gets HIV is a needle-freak or loose in their morals (or knees), not everyone that gets lung cancer is a pack a day smoker (or even around smokers, in some cases). Yet, every single alcoholic drinks.

If addiction is a disease, then smokers and crackheads and methfreaks need to be accorded the same graces as drunks. Matter of fact, throw in all addictions- be they addiction to gambling, addiction to the internet and video games, addiction to fast food or addiction to pornography.

Either treat all addicts as being 'sick', regardless of vice, or leave the 'sick' label to those who really are afflicted.
Posted By Anonymous Mimi, London, Canada : 5:51 PM ET
Hi, my name is Matt and I am an alcoholic. I am also 26 years old. More than ever there are groups of us "youngsters" joining AA. the "old-timers" can attest to this. In my case genetics plays a large role, but one cannot discount our society--especially with the college-bar drink specials and the commercials were the cool drunk guys get the beautiful girls. America will be seeing more "youngsters" with alcohol-related problems, this I guarantee.
Posted By Anonymous Matthew Platteville, WI : 5:52 PM ET
I wake up every morning and thank God that I found AA. Alcoholism is such a personal prison for so many people - this message needs to be told. If you don't have a problem with alcohol be thankful - but don't judge what others may experience based only on your own experience.

If you think you have a problem, you probably do. Put down the drink and go to an AA meeting. You can always have the drink when you get back (but you probably won't want it quite so much).
Posted By Anonymous Andrew, Savannah, GA : 5:56 PM ET
Why do people drink anyway? It's to get away from the drags of everyday society. Do this, don't do that. Society is so pervasive into our everyday lives, more and more people are drinking. I see it everyday as a bar tender. The local bar is a safe haven to get away from the do-gooders of the world who want to control every aspect of your life. Now that is not good enough for them, they want to control the bar scene, too. Stop trying to control everything and less and less people will be drinking.
Posted By Anonymous John, Chicago, IL : 5:59 PM ET
I am always interested in the "science" behind the diseases. However, as a grateful recovering alcoholic, I can attest to the fact that recovery is not only about putting the drink down. Recovery is so much more!! I started drinking @ 17 and was fortunate enough to get into recovery @ 24. It took a couple of more years of drinking and watching my young friends die of this disease for me to hit the bottom. Alcoholism is cunning, baffling and powerful, but today we alcoholics have a choice. I choose to attend AA meetings and actively participate in my own recovery. Nobody can do it for me, I am the one responsible for my own actions. I had to have help. I know that I could not stay sober on my own. If I could have thought me way out of alcoholism, I would have. AA is a phenomonal program!! It has been almost 13 years since my last drink.
Posted By Anonymous ASK, Austin, TX : 6:00 PM ET
This story is so true. I'm 25 and i have been drinking sense i was 18. I recently went to a 30 day treament for it. I thought that i could'nt be an Alcohilic at 25 years old. This only happens to people my parents age. I great job at a mortgage company a great apartment. Why me? And i came to learn that its a disease. When friends ask me to go get a few drinks after work. A few drinks to me is 8-12 drinks!! And because of treatment and loving family i sober today. I want to thank you for doing this story its a really important issue.
Posted By Anonymous Kyle St. Louis Missouri : 6:00 PM ET
My best friend was an alcoholic by age 16. Now seven years later, she's still drinking 6 nights out of 7. Its a disease initiated by a decision. Choose to walk away or keep killing yourself. She chooses to keep killing herself. I choose to walk away.
Posted By Anonymous Karinna, Jackson, MI : 6:02 PM ET
I'm a highschool student currently, and it shocks and saddens me to see how many kids drink on the weekends. Granted, they hide it well, and most of the time there are no serious problems. But that does not excuse it. There are a few reasons for such young drinking: 1) I go to a difficult private school. The mentality is "work hard, play hard." 2) Alcohol is the forbidden fruit...cool, relaxing, but out of reach. 3) Advertising markets alcohol as tempting, glamorous, and fun. I realize drinking is a decision, but one that we cannot trust most people to make. Education of alcohol and its dangerous effects NEEDS to be more widespread, taken seriously, and bring positive results.
Posted By Anonymous Emily, St. Paul, MN : 6:04 PM ET
Alcoholism as a disease. Many people react negatively to this classification. Calling alcoholism a disease is not an attempt to avoid responsibility for one's actions. The pathology of alcoholism is that a physical change occurs in the body which progresses over time. My understanding is that the brain and liver "learn" to produce pain killers in response to being attacked by alcohol.

So why do we refer to alcoholism as a disease? We want alcoholics to understand that their condition is changing, getting worse. We want them to understand that their reaction to alcohol is not the same as other peoples and not the same as when they first began drinking. They should be aware that the same drinking patterns will no longer work for them. We want them to be aware that there are medical options available to them. We also want to help explain to non-alcoholics that avoiding the first drink is not as easy as it is for non-alcoholics. It's not an excuse to drink, but it may shed some light on the alcoholic's seemingly bizarre choices.

I don't think alcoholism is anyone's core problem. I think pretty much everyone have some hurt inside them and finds ways to deal with it. Treating it with alcohol is a sad choice but there it is. You can choose to blame a person for having no self-control or you can choose to try to understand what's going on inside him. Your choice.
Posted By Anonymous Bruce, Santa Cruz CA : 6:08 PM ET
I don't get it. Whatever happened to free will? My parents were both smokers, and I decided at a very young age that I did not want to fill my lungs with that stinky stuff. When I was little, my uncle hung himself in the attic because his hands were so shaky from alcoholism that he couldn't eat anymore. Why would you want to copy such a sick lifestyle?
Posted By Anonymous Maria, Phoenix, Arizona : 6:09 PM ET
The American Medical Association says that, for a male, 2 alcoholic beverages per day is actually beneficial to your health (1 per day if you are a female). Alcohol can have health benefits if used in moderation!! And, if alcohol is the "devil" why did Jesus turn water into wine...just curious if anyone has an explanation for that?
Posted By Anonymous Bob, Chicago, IL : 6:13 PM ET
I can't stand the fact that people view alcohol as okay just because it is socially acceptable to drink. I know too many people who will tell you that alcohol is not a drug, that it is good for you, and is the most harmless substance available. Alcohol is actaully one of the most harmful drugs that you can do, and just because of it's legality status, people think the opposite. Alcohol should be illegal before marijauna and mushrooms are, assuming we are trying to protect the health of the general public. The drinking age does not help either, because personally I think that it is better to have the parents teach the kids how to drink, not their friends and people they meet at parties.
Posted By Anonymous Chevis Young, New Ipswich NH : 6:13 PM ET
I'm not sure I agree entirely with this very black-and-white view about alcoholism. You imply that since a large amount of alcoholics started drinking before 21 or 25, then stopping underage drinking is the right way to stop alcoholism. I do understand the scientific facts you have presented, but I also wanted to bring in some anecdotal evidence. Look at all non-American culture. Almost all(there are a few exceptions) have lower drinking ages, or more lax laws for underage drinking. By not making drinking taboo, it promotes more responsible drinking. You always hear about people dying on their 21st birthdays, or on trips abroad, because they are so motivated to drink as much as possible, and so hurt themselves doing so. If we excepted drinking as a part of our culture, and promoted safe drinking, we would be much better off and have less alcoholism.
Posted By Anonymous Juan, Boston, MA : 6:20 PM ET
I disagree with the posters who say alcoholism is just a weakness and not a disease. If it were only a weakness, then no one would ever become physically addicted and have physiological signs of withdrawal, such as DTs.

Of course, some people are "problem drinkers" and are able to quit on their own. Maybe they used drinking as a crutch or an escape, but they were never truly addicted.

As for causing your own disease, the same is true for people who eat the wrong foods and end up with heart disease. They still have heart disease even though their habits caused their problems.
Posted By Anonymous Kate, Setauket, NY : 6:21 PM ET
Those who claim that Alchoholism is a matter of wronly spent will power are obviously unaware of the facts. There comes a time in ones life where picking up that first drink is not a matter of choice, will power or lack of. It is a matter of survival.

I am an achoholic and it was not until I had reached my bottom where to drink was to die was I able to seek help and in turn stop the destructive pattern I had lived with for so long. As for will power, most alchoholics have a tremendous amount of will power, they just cant stop drinking.
Posted By Anonymous Dave, San Juan Capistrano, Ca. : 6:21 PM ET
Until Prohibition is re-enacted, this country will continue to lose tens of thousands of lives to alcoholism and alcohol-related deaths. I, for one, would love to see some sort Prohibition return to our society. Alcohol is a DRUG, period! It alters the mind and body (and soul). Why can't we have the courage to just entirely BAN ALCOHOL in our country?!? Too much politics and $$, of course it would never happen. It's like: "Oh, ok. I'll only snort 'just a little bit' of crank (methamphetamine)." Or, "I'll only shoot up 'just a little bit' of heroin." Etc., etc. Alcohol IS A DRUG, that even kills more people than any other drug, but it's the only LEGAL DRUG in our society (and other societies). That's a PRETTY TOUGH, SMART AND STRONG DEVIL, eh?!?
Posted By Anonymous Mark, Sacramento, CA : 6:30 PM ET
I know the article has nothing to do with other forms of addictions such as cigarette smoking and pornography. But I think they are as dangerous as alcoholism!
Posted By Anonymous Al S., Houston, TX : 6:35 PM ET
Want to see what creates an alchoholic? Visit cities like Youngstown, Ohio. Long forgotten by industry and our government, those who remain drown thier despair and memories of a better city while waiting for an uncertian tomorrow.
Posted By Anonymous Murph, Pittsburgh, PA : 6:36 PM ET
I am amazed at the people that say that it is a weakness or grow a pair and don't drink. I guess all bad decisions in life are that easy for you to make. Hell I guess you are just perfect. You people have probably gone through your entire life without being racist, sexist, intolerant, never broke the law, cheated on your taxes, hit your spouse or your kid, cheated a little in school or looked at another man or woman and thought about cheating on your spouse. Never put a few more hours on your timesheet, you know just to get a little overtime for Christmas. I envy you. I wish it was so easy for the rest of us to always make the right decision. Be honest, running that red light isn't really a big deal....unless you hit someone and kill them, right. How often does that happen? Having two drinks after work really won't hurt me...unless it eventually leads to four or five or ten, right. But really, how often does that happen? I can handle it, I'm not weak like my parents.......or am I. The problem is, you don't find that out until it is too late.
Posted By Anonymous Erik, Houston Tx : 6:39 PM ET
As a recovering alcoholic, I have experienced many of the troubles that befall most alcoholics: 2 DUIs, numerous broken relationships, failing health, loss of respect by loved ones, & wasted @ $100K over the span of @ 30 years. When I was told I had to attend AA everyday for a year, I felt lost & confused. I fulfilled that commitment, went "back out" for @ 6 months, & came back to stay, because MY way didn't work! I have come to believe that alcoholism BECOMES a disease. It may not happen to everyone who drinks, yet it somehow triggers those who "qualify" to become one. Anyway of telling beforehand? Ya know how to pick winning lotto #s?
I have come to believe I had all the makings of one WELL before I ever drank. If you want to learn the truth @ the possibility of being an alcoholic you NEED to be able to get honest w/ yourself! If you fight it, you're gonna lose. I'm an alholic, & I only want more! Grateful in sobriety,
Posted By Anonymous "Fuzzy" J, Lansing, MI : 6:41 PM ET
I thank you for putting up the story on alcohol abuse and what it does to a person. Maybe it will help someone and also educate us on the misuse of the alcohol (liquor). We have people at work that has alcohol abuse problems, but no one is doing anything about them. It's sad to see a person abusing their health with alcoholism and at the same time dragging their family through their problems, specially the children. Why was it invented? What is the purpose for alcohol liquor in the first place. maybe your can include the history of alcohol and the companys that make it to your story.
Posted By Anonymous Bertha, Window Rock AZ : 6:53 PM ET
alcoholism, it is a term which should and does conjur up negative images. but the term has been tossed around rather blithely in recent. what was, 30 years ago, a "social drinker" could fall into may people's idea of an alcoholic today.

and, to the person who reccommended a return to Prohibition, read some history. The enforcement of the Volsted Act did more to glamorize and popularize the consumption of beverage alcohol than all the advertising AB or Miller have ever done.
Posted By Anonymous rick columbus oHIo : 6:54 PM ET
The bottom line is non alcoholics don't understand what alcohol does to and for the alcoholic. It is a diseae and the only one that is self diagnosed. Others can call you one but acceptance is a personal decision that I personally believe is a gift we receive. 22 years and counting them one day at a time.
Posted By Anonymous Elinor Emmitsburg, MD : 6:55 PM ET
I am an adult. It is my RIGHT to decide what goes into my body. If you take that RIGHT away in the name of protecting society, you might as well move to a socialist country.

We allow people to refuse medical attention in the name of their religion, how is this different? Because there are only a few crazy people who will turn down medical treatment, so the numbers do not look so bad?

Alcoholics Anonymous is a bunch of BS that lets people avoid responsibility for their own actions by putting it on a 'higher power'. Yay, you don't have control...only your 'higher power' can help you. Take responsibility for yourself.
Posted By Anonymous Sean Aschen, West Haven CT : 6:56 PM ET
I am 22 and am very fortunate to be alive. Not because I started drinking at 14, or because of liver disease, but because of all the stupid decisions I made (and did not make) while drinking. I think, just like any other influence (alc/drug/ect) it is looked at as a coping mechanism. I have learned the pain and frustration it caused growing up, and still decided I 'could handle it'. Well, in reality, I could not. I blacked out more and more, in which I could not recall the prior nights events, and that is the scariest thing imaginable. How can one be accountable for something they can't remember, something that 'wasn't really me'? Well, THEY CAN because, like me, they put the drink to their face. I have a addictive personality; I can never get enough once I start. I decided that my health is most important so that is now my coping mechanism to deal with my lack of friends and a social life. The #1 thing is to start looking at thing more positively, and to realize we only have a finite time on Earth. My dad and both of my brothers are 'alkies', so I love them dearly, but don't want to be the dreaded 'reformed user' either. I just want whats best for them, it is just tough to get through. However, I will find a way, and in the meantime, I will continue to improve my quality of living.

NOTE: I have never felt like I was a alcoholic...I would wait 2, sometimes 3 weeks between drinking sessions. The problem was I was drinking to get drunk, and that was why I had so many negative experiences that affected others more than myself.
Posted By Anonymous KcL, Jacksonville FL : 6:58 PM ET
Drinking is fun escept for those nights you dont remember. I call it time traveling.
Posted By Anonymous Frank Minkhead Pomp Beach Florida : 1:50 PM ET
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