I copied and pasted this "September, 2000, Recovery Tip of the Month" from that section of this website. (There are 12 Recovery Tips per year, archived on that section, since 1999......some people tell me that they get to read them all by clicking on one year per day and just reading those tips.....that way, they get to better keep track of what they have read and what they still want to read).
here is that 'recovery tip of the month'-------
It is so easy to slide into believing that the alcoholic drinks "because of an emotional problem".
And the thinking is -- that if the alcoholic just "gets to the root of the problem", then the drinking/drugging problem will just "wither away" by itself.
That was the thinking of almost the entire mental-health profession about 25 years ago -- before the days of James Milam (author of "Under the Influence"), who, along with other pioneers in the field of addictions, toured the country on a regular basis, lecturing and training mental-health practitioners, judges, pastoral counselors, nurses, criminal-justice personnel, and others, to help them understand that alcoholism is a primary disease.
What does that mean? It means that nothing can get you drunk.
It means that no matter what else is going on in your life; no matter what your childhood was like; it means that no matter what your job is like, your spouse and/or kids are like; that none of those things get you drunk.
Yes, they cause stress!
Life causes stress!
And if everyone who had stress drank alcoholically, everyone would be an alcoholic.
But the stressors of life are not what makes one an alcoholic.
You "get" alcoholism because you are genetically predisposed to it.
(You have to go back about six or eight generations to see the proclivity to alcoholism in one's family; just because your parents did not have it, doesn't mean it is not in your family. And back then, no one said people were alcoholic unless they were falling down in the gutter.
And they certainly did not say that women or the clergy or any "good people" were alcoholic).
But, getting back to the mythology of "stress causing alcoholism": Yes, stress can make you want to drink.
Yes, having violent parents and being thrown out on the street at age 17 can make you want stress-relief and want to drink.
But if you don't have the brain receptors, etc., to be alcoholic or addicted, it'll be a "passing phase".
It's like what happened with the U.S. veterans after the Vietnam war was over ----- a huge percentage of them had tried heroin in Vietnam---- but only 1/3 of those who took it in Vietman, continued to take it, after they came home.
Why? Because if you don't have the physical set-up to become an alcoholic or other-drug addict, you won't.
(Look at all the spouses in Al-Anon who are not alcoholics who sat on barstools to try to drink alongside their alcoholic spouses, to be there, to have their spouses at least physically with them -- and who could not keep up the drinking, even when they tried to.)
And, if a catastrophe in life happens to a non-addict/non-alcoholic-- and if they drink, or do any other temporary thing to relieve stress-- if they are not genetically addicted------ they will probably, after awhile, not continue that drinking, but instead, get down to dealing with life on life's terms.
The difference with alcoholics is that if they start to drink at all------
even for a "legitimate stress reason"-------- then the craving and the obsession make them continue the drinking--------
because the process of the disease of alcoholism takes over.
AND ONCE THAT DISEASE PROCESS IS IN EFFECT, THAT ALCOHOLIC DOES NOT NEED ANY 'REASON' TO DRINK ------AFTER THAT DISEASE PROCESS IS IN EFFECT ---- THEN THE ALCOHOLIC DRINKS BECAUSE THE YANKEES WON // BECAUSE THE YANKEES LOST // AND BECAUSE THE YANKEES DIDN'T PLAY.
It often LOOKS like the alcoholic drinks because he lost his job-- or because he hates the weather....... or misses his mother.........or he hates his mother....... or you had too many children.......or the boss wants to tell him what to do, for goodness sake!....... or it rained too many days this year..... or he's bored because he can't find a job that is up to his standards, even though you are working two jobs to keep a roof over your heads.
(AND OF COURSE, HE TOLD YOU HE HAS ALL THESE 'REASONS' FOR HIS DRINKING....... HE HAS TOLD YOU THAT FOR SO LONG THAT OF COURSE YOU PARTIALLY OR FULLY BELIEVE IT).
But when that same alcoholic gets a job... a better-paying job -- and/or moves to where the weather is great....... the probability is that alcoholic will still continue drinking or start drinking again, and the disease will still progress and the drinking will get worse than it's ever been before.
(The disease of alcoholism is fatal and progressive).
"Stuff" happens in life........................to everyone.
"Stuff" does not cause alcoholism.
When alcoholics get sober and go to A.A. on a regular basis, they learn to replace that knee-jerk reaction of picking up a drink or a chemical for stress-relief -- and replacing it with "taking it to a meeting" and talking about it.
And by the Grace of God, it relieves it.
A way is found to deal with it.
One more thing------- when an alcoholic has, alongside the alcoholism, an additional psychiatric illness (like clinical depression), they may initially only drink to relieve the clinical depression -- and they may receive temporary relief from it because they drank. But, and this is a big "but" -- when they drink even for that reason -- it gets and keeps the disease-of-alcoholism process going. And even if that particular cycle of clinical depression "lets up" for awhile because of the temporary relief of the alcohol -- the alcoholic drinking usually continues, because the alcoholism has its own dynamic and is itself progressive, and it gets to exists alongside, in addition to, the psychiatric illness. And if the alcoholism is not treated for itself and the drinking does not stop (even if the psychiatric illness is treated with medication and therapy) then two things usually happen:
a.) intaking alcohol when the medicine is in the body usually makes the medicine less effective; and
b.) the alcoholism follows a progressive course and continues to eventually make that person's life worse on just about every level, if not all levels, of one's life. And it usually continues to make that psychiatric illness worse, too. If a person with both psychiatric illness and alcoholism wants to get better, they usually have to get help for both problems-- and that help is often found in an alcoholism treatment center (one that is A.A.-oriented) that is good at diagnosing and treating persons with both addiction and psychiatric illness. And after initial treatment is completed, ongoing counseling --as well as A.A., of course--is usually the prescribed course of treatment.