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Itís Debatable
2007-02-08, 10:02 a.m.

Day 900

Had no idea the discussion on addiction vs disease vs behavior would get so interesting.

To satisfy my own interests (cuz Iím a nerd like that), I went to, (where else?) Wikipedia to see what they had on file. Iíll refer to the entire definitions, but at the risk of contextually (wow Ė Word bought that) handicapping the definitions Iím pasting in some of the more defining (to me) statements. (The topic heading will cite the entire article at Wikipedia. What follows in italics is just pasted in from their site.)

First, Addiction

Physical dependence, abuse of, and withdrawal from drugs and other miscellaneous substances is outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV TR). Unfortunately, terminology has become quite complicated in the field. To wit, pharmacologists continue to speak of addiction from a physiologic standpoint (some call this a physical dependence); psychiatrists refer to the disease state as dependence; most other physicians refer to the disease as addiction. The field of psychiatry is now considering, as they move from DSM-IV to DSM-V, transitioning from "dependence" to "addiction" as terminology for the disease state.

Which settles nothing, but leans in the direction of an addiction at least being a ďdisease stateĒ

Next, Disease

A disease or medical condition is an abnormality of the body or mind that causes discomfort, dysfunction, distress, or death to the person afflicted or those in contact with the person. Sometimes the term is used broadly to include injuries, disabilities, disorders, syndromes, infections, symptoms, deviant behaviors, and atypical variations of structure and function, while in other contexts these may be considered distinguishable categories. In the narrow sense, a disease is the invasion of the body by pathogens.

No surprises there, but it does include dysfunction and deviant behaviors which could certainly include sucking down booze till your blood alcohol is up in the 0.25(mg/dl?, %?) or better range.

Finally Alcoholism
Alcoholism is the consumption of or preoccupation with alcoholic beverages to the extent that this behavior interferes with the alcoholic's normal personal, family, social, or work life. The chronic alcohol consumption caused by alcoholism can result in psychological and physiological disorders. Alcoholism is one of the world's most costly drug use problems; with the exception of nicotine addiction, alcoholism is more costly to most countries than all other drug use problems combined.
While alcohol use is required to trigger alcoholism, the biological mechanism of alcoholism is uncertain. For most people, moderate alcohol consumption poses little danger of addiction. Other factors must exist for alcohol use to develop into alcoholism. These factors may include a person's social environment, emotional health and genetic predisposition. In addition, an alcoholic can develop multiple forms of addiction to alcohol simultaneously such as psychological, metabolic, and neurochemical. Each type of addiction must be treated individually for an alcoholic to fully recover.

Again, no surprises. The article goes on to point out that there is a slight genetic pre-disposition, but the presence of this particular allele alone is not sufficient to cause alcoholism. It also makes the point that since one of the effects of alcohol is to reduce a person's judgment, each drink makes it more difficult to decide that the next drink is a bad idea. Additionally, for those who are predisposed towards alcoholism, drinking in moderation can result in the strengthening of the endorphin-based addiction.

Hey Ė does that mean that Iíve replaced my own desire for alcohol with beating the tar out of myself at the gym? Maybe, because I sure donít feel the need to have a beer or six
when I get home from work every night. Itís pretty well established that exercise or other physical exertion releases endorphins. Itís amazing the high you get from running, cycling and even weight training.

I think thereís also evidence that alcohol abuse can start out as a bad behavior, but then can morph into an addiction (both physical and psychological) that is a disease state on itís own, and can spawn a whole host of other diseases, both in the abuser and in their immediate family & contacts.

I donít have data on success rates of all the various recovery programs. The one Iím in (Al Anon) is meant to focus on those who feel their lives have been negatively impacted through prolonged association with an alcoholic. It does not teach you how to cure the alcoholic, it teaches you how to handle living with one, or helps you get past having had to live with one on the past. Itís keeping me from getting all spastic, bitter (mostly) and best of all, itís shown me that all the crap I was trying to do earlier, all the little control freak things Iíd pull to try and get her to stop, are largely ineffective. Itís like trying to kill a bear with a bb gun. You might, maybe, get lucky and pop a shot into itís eye and penetrate the brain, but all youíre going to accomplish is to piss it off. And a pissed off bear will shred you to pieces.

Thatís my story and Iím sticking to it. Unless Wikipedia changes itís definitions. Or I find the magic treatment to cure alcoholics and make them stop being assholes when theyíre dry.

Stayed up and watched Lost. That show just keeps digging deeper and deeper. Old Jack is in some deep tapioca now. Of course theyíre going to rescue him. Their neighborhood just got a little bigger too. Wonder why the other island was never noticed before? Or did I just miss some subtle references to it? Ahh Ė never mind. Itíll all be explained by the end. Or not. Survivor tonight too. Iím thrilled, Cindy could give a warm turd. Too bad, Iíll have the remote. Sheíll likely be too drunk to put up much of a fight. If she starts snoring, Iíll just bury her in pillows.

Short workout this morning. Due to staying up till 11 to watch Lost. Did get in a very nice run though. New best time for a 5K. Sad thing is I had some go juice left in the tank at the end, could have pushed the pace a little more. Too bad you canít know that till the end.

Bowling again tonight. Youngest brother might be tied up running one of his boys to a doctors appt., which leaves us with Zach as a sub. Maybe. Itíll be fun at any rate, even if we bowl lousy (again). No more predictions for a final score either. I was off by almost 100 pins last time I did that, and not in a good way.

Tropical heat wave around here lately. Think it got up to 16 or 18 degrees yesterday. This morning actually started out around 13 or so as I hit the gym. Supposed to get all the way up to 22 later today. Of course, with the air being a little warmer, it can hold more moisture. Thatís bad for folks at the far eastern ends of the Great Lakes. Oswego County Ė about 60 miles east of me, got 5 feet of snow Monday, more Tuesday. Then the wind shifted and dumped the snow more over towards Watertown and the Tug Hill Plateau area. Theyíre due to get buried even more today. Weíre only supposed to get 4Ē or so. Wonít even slow us down appreciably.

Bad, bad, bad. Just went and refilled my coffee. Someone left a plate of green & red M&Mís out by the coffee pots. Obviously getting rid of the last of some Christmas candy. I helped. Had a little (tiny) handful. Maybe 8 Ė 10 pieces. Ugh. Now I want more. Maybe Iíll peel an orange and read about fiber optic gig Ethernet transceivers. Donít you wish you could come read some of this too? Deal is, Iíve got to design this into a system. 2 weeks ago. Oh, wait Ė that one isnít late. Yet. But by the time I finish off the one that IS late, this new one will be. So I better go read & learn, pack my head full of stuff I wonít need when Iím retired.


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old habits - new tricks