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Alcoholism: The Volitional Disease

By: Officer S. Garry Nowak

(originally at

Alcoholism is not a disease with an invasive pathology, nor is it a disease of genetics gone awry. Alcoholism has nothing to do with irresistible impulses or uncontrollable urges. Alcoholism is a disease of volition.

Calling alcoholism a disease infers that there is an invasive pathology present where none exists. Calling alcoholism a disease infers the possibility of a heritable genetic lineage with a predetermined immutable eventuality where no such heritable genetic link has been proven. Calling alcoholism a disease infers that there is a medicinal cure when no amount of medicine or counseling can cure this 'disease.'

Calling alcoholism a disease exonerates the alcoholic from all responsibility and accountability for his/her drinking and subsequent misbehavior(s). Calling alcoholism a disease tends to impede the motivation and the desire to change within the alcoholic for everyone knows that one is not responsible for possessing a disease. When one possesses a disease everyone readily acknowledges the lack of volitional control. Alcoholism ceases to exist when the alcoholic volitionally chooses to stop drinking. Alcoholism ends when the alcoholic is motivated to change his/her drinking pattern. It never ends through force and/or coercion.

The one common prerequisite for all psycho therapeutic modalities is for the client to possess the desire and motivation to change oneself. Desire alone, inspires the motivation to change. Without desire and motivation change is not possible. If rehabilitational therapeutic modalities could force or coerce change without desire and motivation being present within the individual, then our prison systems would release convicts who would subsequently be honest and decent citizens. Our schools would produce straight 'A' students and alcoholism (addictions) would be a thing of the past. But in spite of our best-coerced efforts, we continue to release criminals from our prisons, students who fail, and alcoholism flourishes. Why is this?

One reason is that our legislators passed the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA). In so doing, their compassion has produced far more cruelty than it has humanity. This bit of legislation was intended to protect the blind, the deaf, and those in wheelchairs. These intended beneficiaries never received any assistance from this legislation. Why? Because the word 'disability' was redefined by the courts to include: alcoholics, drug addicts, the obese, math phobic's, etc. The ADA actually hurt those who were intended to be protected by it.

This piece of compassionate legislation has more than likely interfered with the natural progression of alcoholism. Alcoholics are no longer allowed to 'hit rock bottom.' Historically, 'hitting rock bottom' has been the common element among those who have volitionally changed their drinking patterns. This piece of compassionate legislation has removed that common element which has always been considered the primary incentive required for volitional change; i.e., the right to fail.

What this piece of compassionate legislation did do is to bestow all the 'benefits and rights' of the truly disabled upon those who are merely volitionally disabled. By bestowing these benefits and rights of the truly disabled upon alcoholics, the legislature has reinforced the disease mentality of helplessness, powerlessness, and the inevitability of relapse. The word 'disease' becomes forever associated with that which is beyond one's volitional control. This piece of legislation reinforces the disease construct that compassionately associates perpetual failure upon the alcoholic. With this mentality, the alcoholic is not only forever doomed to consume alcohol, but is forgiven and exonerated for doing so. This piece of compassionate legislation prevents the primary motivating element for change ever to be discovered by the alcoholic on his/her own, via what the alcoholic does best, drink alcohol.

One of the truly great ironies of alcoholism is how we treat alcoholics. Medicine and Doctors have virtually nothing to offer an alcohol. Doctors send alcoholics to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), whether they (the alcoholic) wants to go or not. The courts, our jails and prisons, employers, conditions of parole/probation,, all force and/or coerce an alcoholic into attending AA. Why? Because AA represents the only acceptable course of treatment for the alcoholic in the United States. AA alone has the answer. To even consider any other therapeutic course of treatment is laughable. So what is the foundation upon which AA is laid?

Bill W. and Dr. Bob were the founders of AA, but Bill W. was probably the more influential of the two. Bill W. wrote AA's The Big Book and AA's infamous Twelve Steps after experiencing a spiritual awakening while undergoing a hospitalized treatment for his alcoholism. Bill W. also readily acknowledged that AA was modeled after the Oxford Group Movement. The Oxford Group Movement was led by Dr. Frank Buchman, a very charismatic leader, as are all cult leaders. Buchman and his groupers were not in the business of converting heathens to Christianity. What they did do is to subversively and deceitfully 'steal' those Christians from their own church.

Dr. Buchman was never secretive about his possessing superior knowledge and abilities. He readily admitted, and his followers readily acknowledged, that Buchman knew what was best for society. The Oxford Group Movement subscribed to the 'any means justifies the end' philosophy. Dr. Buchman once stated in an interview that the world would be a far better place it were led by a leader such as Adolf Hitler. Buchman was quoted: "I thank heaven for a man like Adolf Hitler . . ." Dr. Buchman and his Oxford Group Movement were so despised by the American public that they were forced to change their name to the Moral Rearmament and subsequently they had to go underground. This is the philosophical foundation of AA.

AA's infamous Twelve Steps has just as interesting a foundation. Bill W. was hospitalized for alcoholism. During this hospitalization, he was treated by Dr. Silkworth with Dr. Silkworth's own belladonna cure. This was a standard treatment for alcoholism at that time. The belladonna cure consisted of a blend of morphine, belladonna, henbane and other hallucinogenic drugs. Any of these drugs individually are powerful hallucinogens, let alone the synergistic effect of such a combination. It was while under the influence of this hallucinogenic cure that Bill W. had his white light experience.' This was his religious epiphany. Bill W. describes this experience: "I found myself crying out, "If there is a God, let Him show Himself! I am ready to do anything!" Suddenly, the room lit up with a great white light . . . All about me there was a wonderful feeling of Presence, and I thought to myself, "So, this is the God of the Preachers." This was the 'divine' inspiration for Bill W. to write The Big Book and AA's Twelve Steps. While writing the Twelve Steps, Bill W. arbitrarily decided to stop at twelve steps because there were twelve apostles. This is the scientific foundation upon which AA is premised. AA is the modality upon which 93% of the addictive treatment programs have modeled themselves.

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Last updated 2006/03/18

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