Is Alcoholism a Sin or a Disease????

Is Alcoholism a Sin or a Disease??? :slight_smile:

i would say that alcoholism is a disease, caused by sin, and willfully submitting to the disease is a sin.

as with all addictions, the culpability factor diminishes as the addiction becomes stronger. but the person has guilt for becoming addicted, and for willfully submitting to it.

I am an alcoholic in recovery, with sixteen continuous years of sobriety. It is definitely a disease. The majority of professionals in the alcohol treatment field also believe it is a disease.

One may sin greatly when one is an alcoholic; alcoholism causes terrible sin, but sin does not cause alcoholism. People do not become alcoholics merely by being sinful; if that were true most people would be alcoholics!

It is really incorrect to call alcoholism a disease, this coming from an alcoholic. A disease is not something one willfully ingests or takes into their body regularly. disease can come from ingestion, but is not something one seeks out and desires to partake of, unless they are suicidal. Also, when something is habitual it does not mean all culpability is removed because, though it may be painful, the actions can be stopped, and remorse is never to be negated for action that is sinful. And it is sinful to slowly destroy ones own body (see the Catechism on alcohol and tobacoo). It is not sinful for me to have a drink, but it is sinful for me to live for a drink.

By definition, I too am an alcoholic. I spent 30 days in rehab about 18 months ago. I tried my best to buy that alcoholism is a disease, but I’m absolutely convinced that it is not. No one ever gets alcoholism if they do not ever drink alcohol, therefore it is not a disease. The person defined as an alcoholic does, I truly believe, have a different reaction to the alcohol than a normal person. The idea that AA teaches about the “allergy” to alcohol fits much better than a disease.

I also believe that there reaches a point where the alcoholic needs help to stop. I’m as strong willed and as smart as almost anybody, and I couldn’t figure out way I continued doing what was killing me. I was starting to have problems with my short term memory. I woke up one morning with my head cut open and blood on my hands and clothes. I had totaled my car. That got me to stop for three weeks. About two months later, I went to rehab. Once someone gets into the addiction their rational thought goes completely out the window. I used to view addiction as a weakness and an excuse. I still believe it is weakness, up to a point, but it’s far from being only an excuse. People that want to quit, can quit. People that want to get rid of cance, usually can’t. Thus the distinction from a disease.

Seeing how this was posted tonight, I thought I would just say to say a prayer for all those that are still suffering with addiction. I just heard that Ken Caminiti, former Houston Astro, died. It’s an apparent heart attack, but since he admitted last week in court that he had violated his probation by using cocaine, I’m willing to bet that that’s at least part of the cause.

Those who say alcoholism is definitely not a disease, are you restricting your definition of “disease” strictly to physical disease, or are you including mental disease?

Alan

As an alcoholic myself too, and after almost 16 years of continuous sobriety in AA, I’ve heard and read more verbiage and seen more data on this debate than you can shake a barstool at. One of the sanest, best researched and most compassionate articles I’ve yet read on the subject is in (of all places!) the Catholic Encylopedia. Here’s the link:

newadvent.org/cathen/01274a.htm

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[quote=AlanFromWichita]Those who say alcoholism is definitely not a disease, are you restricting your definition of “disease” strictly to physical disease, or are you including mental disease?

Alan
[/quote]

Anything that someone can get rid of, every time, by their own actions is not a disease. Does it mess up the brain chemistry? Yes, but that can be fixed by abstaining. Those that have reached the stage of “wet brain” can’t be fixed, but that’s the same as someone shooting themself in the head. It was caused 100% by their own actions. If you don’t drink alcohol, you don’t become an alcoholic. I’m not against alcohol, but after having two family members die of cancer, I find it insulting to say alcoholism is a disease.

[font=Arial Black]In the late 70s, Henri Begleiter and B. Porjesz at the State University of NY in Brooklyn attached electrodes to detect a brain wave, designated P300, to the scalps of 25 boys aged 7-13 who were sons of alcoholic fathers, with a control group of 25 boys who had no family history of drug or alcohol addiction. None of the boys in either group had themselves ever used alcohol or drugs, and the researchers conducting the tests were “blind” to the family history of each boy. [/font]

[font=Arial Black]The goal was to explore electrophysiological “markers” to identify children at risk. They found that in response to visual stimuli, the sons of alcoholic fathers had a measurably lower amplitude of P300 brain waves. In other words, they were able to identify the sons of alcoholic fathers at a rate far greater than chance based no information other than the boys’ P300 brain waves. [/font]
[font=Arial Black][/font]
[font=Arial Black]However, they cautioned that the results were not conclusive as a diagnostic predictor of later addictive behavior. Even so, these findings do complicate the issue with compelling evidence that addiction is still more of a neurological and genetic mystery than we can confidently dispose of with moral convitions. [/font]

The most successful approach to alcoholism has been AA and the 12 step program. The 12 step program does appear similar to prescriptions from previous Christian moralist.

  1. Recognition of uncontrolled behavior (the slavery of sin as St. Paul writes)

  2. Appeal to a higher power (pray)

  3. Cultivation of the opposite behavior i.e abstinence (building a virtue of sobriety through habit)

All virtue begins with reason. People stop drinking not because they lost the taste for alcohol or no longer enjoy any pleasure but due to sufficient reason (my life’s a mess, I don’t want to lose my job, wife, family etc)

[quote=Cherubino][font=Arial Black]In the late 70s, Henri Begleiter and B. Porjesz at the State University of NY in Brooklyn attached electrodes to detect a brain wave, designated P300, to the scalps of 25 boys aged 7-13 who were sons of alcoholic fathers, with a control group of 25 boys who had no family history of drug or alcohol addiction. None of the boys in either group had themselves ever used alcohol or drugs, and the researchers conducting the tests were “blind” to the family history of each boy. [/font]

[font=Arial Black]The goal was to explore electrophysiological “markers” to identify children at risk. They found that in response to visual stimuli, the sons of alcoholic fathers had a measurably lower amplitude of P300 brain waves. In other words, they were able to identify the sons of alcoholic fathers at a rate far greater than chance based no information other than the boys’ P300 brain waves. [/font]
[font=Arial Black][/font]
[font=Arial Black]However, they cautioned that the results were not conclusive as a diagnostic predictor of later addictive behavior. Even so, these findings do complicate the issue with compelling evidence that addiction is still more of a neurological and genetic mystery than we can confidently dispose of with moral convitions. [/font]
[/quote]

Our fallen human nature means that we wil have genetic dispositions to many moral failings. None of these findings means that alcoholism or any other moral disorder cannot be avoided or overcome through the will guided by the intellect with grace.

the predisposition to react badly physically and emotionally to ingesting alcohol is a disease, a disorder, with multiple interacting causes, like diabetes, bipolar disorder, homosexuality, and whether one is born with or aquires a disorder, it is not a sin. But like all disorders it includes the tendency and attraction to sin. Diabetics often crave sugar, one of the symptoms of the disease, and ingesting it at the wrong time can worsen the disease and have many ill effects. Actions taken under influence of a disorder can be sinful, but the guilt and moral responsibility for these actions may be mitigated if free will is impeded. The alcoholic has a choice whether to take that drink, and feeding the addiction is definitely a sin, with all the usual conditions attached to the definition of sin. deliberately impeding the action of free will and responsible choice is in iteself a sin.

[quote=TCB]Our fallen human nature means that we wil have genetic dispositions to many moral failings. None of these findings means that alcoholism or any other moral disorder cannot be avoided or overcome through the will guided by the intellect with grace.
[/quote]

TCB,

After attending more than 5,000 AA meetings and talking one-on one-with dozens of newcomers for over 15 years, I can only tell you how much I could wish that were true. But our collective experience has been that the vast majority of us alkies are, in our own minds, either too smart, too moral or both to admit that we’re powerless over the the crazy idea that no matter what has happened to us in the past, we can safely handle just one or two drinks. If such a person is a true alcoholic, his moral ideals and confidence in his will power actually turn out to be his own worst enemies!

That is the absolutely baffling feature of alcoholism as we see it in the trenches of real life every day. The alcoholic who doesn’t “get the program” and fails to achieve lasting sobriety isn’t generally the one who is too dumb to understand it or too depraved to want it. Paradoxically, people like that are actually among our most promising prospects. But the fellow who fancies that his current religious beliefs and moral convictions will suffice once he has learned a few facts about alcoholism has a much poorer prognosis. That’s the reality we deal with, one day at a time.:slight_smile:

it cannot be a disease, for it takes the introduction of a foreign substance to the body to start it. without the introduction of alcohol, you cannot be alcoholic.

It is a spiritual malady.

Bill W. co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous admitted fully in a letter before he died that it was in no way a medical illness or disease, but a spiritual malady, for the ONLY cure is of a spiritual nature.

The only result of the 12 steps, is a spiritual awakening as stated in step 12. 'having had a spiritual awakening as THE result of these steps,…

I could not vote since I do not feel that the correct answer was in the poll.

Sin IS an addiction. Sin can turn any good thing into a bad thing through glutiny. Gambling is good, wine is good, cars are good, but, when a person abuses these things they can become sinnfull. It is the abuse that is the Sin.

Alcohol is not a sin, alcoholism is an addiction which is a sin.

And speaking of Bill W., some of his thoughts on the subject at hand were as follows:

"Early in A.A.'s history, very natural questions arose among theologians. There was a Mr. Henry Link who had written “The Return to Religion (Macmillan Co., 1937). One day I received a call from him. He stated that he strongly objected to the A.A. position that alcoholism was an illness. This concept, he felt, removed moral responsibility from alcoholics. He had been voicing this complaint about psychiatrists in the American Mercury. And now, he stated, he was about to lambaste A.A. too. Of course, I made haste to point out that we A. A.'s did not use the concept of sickness to absolve our members from moral responsibility. On the contrary, we used the fact of fatal illness to clamp the heaviest kind of moral responsibility on to the sufferer. The further point was made that in his early days of drinking the alcoholic often was no doubt guilty of irresponsibility and gluttony. But once the time of compulsive drinking, veritable lunacy had arrived and he couldn’t very well be held accountable for his conduct. He then had a lunacy which condemned him to drink, in spite of all he could do; he had developed a bodily sensitivity to alcohol that guaranteed his final madness and death. When this state of affairs was pointed out to him, he was placed immediately under the heaviest kind of pressure to accept A.A.'s moral and spiritual program of regeneration - namely, our Twelve Steps. Fortunately, Mr. Link was satisfied with this view of the use that we were making of the alcoholic’s illness. I am glad to report that nearly all theologians who have since thought about this matter have also agreed with that early position. While it is most obvious that free will in the matter of alcohol has virtually disappeared in most cases, we A.A. 's do point out that plenty of free will is left in other areas, It certainly takes a large amount of willingness, and a great exertion of the will to accept and practice the A.A. program. It is by this very exertion of the will that the alcoholic corresponds with the grace by which his drinking obsession can be expelled.” (N.C.C.A. ‘Blue Book’, Vol.12, 1960)

[quote=papist1]it cannot be a disease, for it takes the introduction of a foreign substance to the body to start it. without the introduction of alcohol, you cannot be alcoholic.
[/quote]

Maybe cherubino can speak more directly to this, but i would completely disagree. Alcoholics are not alcoholics simply when they’re swizzling booze. There is a whole lot more physiologically going on in there. At least this is what I have been told by person who’s alcoholism deeply affected my own life at one time.

It is a spiritual malady.

I believe that all physical malady’s are rooted in a spiritual malady first.

Bill W. co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous admitted fully in a letter before he died that it was in no way a medical illness or disease, but a spiritual malady, for the ONLY cure is of a spiritual nature.

Again, maybe cherubino can speak to this, but as far as I know the big book says nothing about a cure and Bill W. didn’t write about cures. He wrote about dealing with alcoholism one day at a time.

[quote=papist1]it cannot be a disease, for it takes the introduction of a foreign substance to the body to start it. without the introduction of alcohol, you cannot be alcoholic.

[/quote]

This is my point. If I would never have taken a drink, I never would have become an alcoholic. I fully agree with the spiritual malady part. I was a very devout Christian for most of my life. I never took a drink, that has more to do with my obsession with fitness than any religious reason. After I dropped out of church and became separated from God, I was miserable. I didn’t start drinking to solve any problems, but I quickly found that it fixed what was wrong with me. Once I got sober, I could look back and easily see where my downfall began. It started by my turning away from God. If I wouldn’t have picked up a beer, I would have become an alcoholic. You don’t crave something unless you’ve ingested previously.

There’s not a cure, because alcohol is not the problem. Alcohol is the solution. Just like an allergy, the alcohol will always affect the those with the “allergy”. The spiritual malady is the problem. That has to be treated, or the alcoholic will self-medicate.

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