My daughter-in-law posed a hypothetical question on Facebook the other day. “If there was a surgery to help someone fight alcoholism and have a long term success by 80% compared to AA alone…would you support it. I have to admit, like many of the comments I was at first very negative. Some valid points were raised, from it’s a spiritual malady to teaching coping skills and strategies. But wait, isn’t that what church groups and AA meetings are all about. They teach you how to live with alcoholism but they can never cure it; once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.
Well, you know the backyard poet, I’m never content to just stick my two cents into the comment box and move along. I need to stick my pen into the pot and stir it up so to speak. You know, ‘In for a penny…In for a pound.’ So I jumped over to the American Society of Addiction Medicine to get the full scoop on the story.
According to them, the definition of Alcoholism is: “A primary, chronic disease with genetic, psychosocial, and environmental factors influencing its development and manifestations. The disease is often progressive and fatal. It is characterized by continuous or periodic: impaired control over drinking, preoccupation with the drug alcohol, use of alcohol despite adverse consequences, and distortions in thinking, most notably denial.”
Now, if I’m getting this right, primary means it’s not a symptom of something else. Chronic disease means an involuntary disability. Impaired control is the inability to limit alcohol use. So yes, if there was a surgery to cure alcoholism then I would wholeheartedly support it.
But let’s all remember, that once you have a leg amputated, the mind can still believe it’s there. Once the surgery is done to remove alcoholism, will the mind still believe it’s there? So the need for mental health support would move from teaching a person how to cope with alcoholism to teaching them how to live without it. And wouldn’t that be a great thing?