With the disease of addiction of alcoholism, your body and your mind are quite literally working against you. Even when you attempt with all your might to get sober, your body and mind dictate your actions to do quite the opposite. How does this happen? What is it about yourself that makes you, even though you may be totally stable and rational in all other areas of your life, incapable of stopping your drinking and drug use?
Let us explain how the disease of addiction pits both the mind and the body of the addict against them. And this is something that just proves the need for some sort of therapy, treatment, 12-step program, whatever outside help that works.
How Addiction Effects The Body
The body is the first place the disease of addiction exists and manifests itself. The disease manifests itself in the body in the form of a reaction. In this instance, it is the reaction towards alcohol or drugs. When an alcoholic or addict puts a substance in their body, their body doesn’t react normally. Their body, quite frankly, acts the exact opposite way someone who isn’t alcoholic or addict’s would act.
The body physically does something different in the alcoholic and addict—and this can’t ever be changed. It is part of the physical make up of alcoholics and addicts.
Addiction And Body Impact
What happens? Well, when the addict or alcoholic drinks the body, instead of saying “enough is enough,” just continually says, “more.” See the more the alcoholic drinks the more they want to drink. It is like the Hydra we saw Hercules fight, take one head and two more grow back. The alcoholic takes one drink and the craving to take another grows two fold. Take two drinks and the craving to take another grows four fold and on and on. Some people describe this as an “allergic reaction.” And it is, because it is an adverse reaction to alcohol, it is an abnormal reaction to alcohol. The normal individual’s body takes two drinks, four drinks, five drinks, and their body tells them to slow down, it tells them they are starting to feel sick. The alcoholic’s body never does this—it just intensifies craving for more of the drink.
This applies to drugs as well. And the addict or alcoholic doesn’t decide to make their body work this way. It just does. And it is possible they were born with a body that does this, or they developed a body that does this through enough time spent drinking and/or using drugs.
But why don’t they just NOT drink or use drugs right? If they know this is going to happen to them why do they even start in the first place?
That is where the mind comes in to really screw things up.
The Mind And Alcoholism
Now, since we went through how this disease manifests in the body I felt it would be important to really explain where the kicker comes from. Because the truth is, if the addict and alcoholic never drank or used drugs in the first place, the body wouldn’t be an issue. Just like someone with who is lactose intolerant—doesn’t have to worry if they don’t eat dairy, the alcoholic or addict doesn’t have to worry as long as they just don’t use or drink. But unlike the lactose, there is something that makes the addict and alcoholic want to drink and use drugs regardless of the adverse effects. Making it like a lactose intolerant individual continually eating cheese, ice cream, yogurts, milk etc. even though it makes them sick.
Explaining The Addicted Mind
Well, the mind is the addict and alcoholic’s greatest enemy. The mind of the alcoholic and addict, much like the body, is different from the average person. It is incapable of realizing the truth of a situation. It is incapable of weighing options. It creates the illusion that maybe just maybe the individual can drink successfully or use drugs every once in awhile—despite all the facts that say they can’t. The mind has this veil that it pulls down over the truth and it’s like a type of amnesia, the alcoholic addict is incapable of remembering the facts and zeroes in on one thing and one thing only and that is the relief the drugs and alcohol will give them.
Once the addict or alcoholic is honed in on this idea that they can drink just one and what it will do for them they are absolutely unable to see what it will do TO them. They can’t remember the facts. The facts like getting arrested, hurting themselves, hurting someone else, running out of money, dying, needing to pay bills never crosses their mind. And if it does, it is fleeting and immediately replaced with the lie that this time it will be different. That or they will say that it doesn’t matter. Either way, it is like this second voice, the voice of the disease comes in and stops all the rational thoughts of stuff like consequences from getting into consciousness.
It is a lot like a magician pulling a curtain. You only see what the magician wants you to see. The brain of the alcoholic and addict only allows them to see what it wants them to see. Willpower is non-existent. There is something in the brain that never makes it into consciousness to stop the addict and alcoholic from using drugs and drinking. They are obsessed, compelled, by their mind to do it again and again regardless of what will happen in their body (see above.)
And that my friends is the disease of alcoholism. The body, yes, is sickened, but it is the mind of alcoholic’s and addict’s is where the problem starts. This disease centers in the mind. And the mind has to go through a spin cycle of sorts—has to have a reset button pushed if the addict or alcoholic ever plans on stopping and more importantly STAYING stopped.
Because for the real addict and alcoholic—it may take different lengths of time but eventually the mind, that voice, that curtain, the magician will show back up and it sounds like yourself, it sounds great, it uses your own logic, to make that drink or drug sound good. It will tell you all sorts of nonsense. It will use everything that you try to use to stay stopped against you. It is cunning. It knows you, because in a way it is you. So it knows how to get you to do what it wants. And with a sickened mind, that first drink or drug will ALWAYS sound like it is worth it.
That is why treatment, therapy, or a 12 step program is so essential to addicts and alcoholics getting better. They need outside help because they can’t use a mind that is sickened to fix them. The same mind where the problem exists can’t be the same mind that also solves the problem.