a.) HMO's and some other insurance companies don't want to believe anything is a disease! Then, they have to pay for it! But, despite this (and believe me, if there were any loophole at all, they would find it!), they find
themselves having to go along with the American Medical Association and admit that it is, indeed a disease.
b.) What about other people? Why do people get angry when "it is called a disease"?
Let me tell a little vignette here. When I was on tour, training
counselors, later that evening in my hotel room, I was watching a talk show on tv. On stage with the host was a group of recovering alcoholics, whose body-language, in each of them, was very arrogant.
The audience looked very angry and got angrier each time that one of them said "he had a disease". I wanted to say to the host at the time, "please just ASK the audience why they feel so angry."
But I knew the answer-------- whenever I've counseled a family member who didn't want to hear "it's a disease", it was because she thought that if she said it was indeed a disease, THEN IT MEANT THAT THE ALCOHOLIC
WAS GETTING AWAY WITH IT.
After all, she thought -- he'd say, "hey I have a disease! I'M NOT
RESPONSIBLE, THEREFORE, FOR MY BEHAVIOR!"
What is the answer to all this?
a.) There is, of course, very valid reason for this anger from the families!
We have seen, over the years, a lot of people who do dastardly things to
other persons, "getting off scott-free" in the courts because they claim they had "bad childhoods" or have other excuses.
I personally remember listening to the cases of women who killed their
children, and thought to myself, "I hope she doesn't get off" ----- NOT
because I "wanted to punish"----- but because I had a mother who was terribly violent since I was born, and who maybe would have succeeded in doing all her children in ------- if she had not been afraid of the legal consequences.
In that same vein, I hoped these violent offenders would not get away with it------ so that the consequences of their actions would hopefully be a
deterrent to other people who otherwise have no inner "stop sign" and who would also harm/kill their children.
b.) But apart from the court system, what are the implications of whether or not we undertand that alcoholism is a disease, as far as treatment goes?
AND, how can we get treatment for the disease of alcoholism-------- and yet not let them get away with awful behavior towards their families because "they have a disease"?
What people often do not know or understand is the DEPTH of understanding that A.A. has about abusive behavior of the alcoholic.
A.A.'s program continually says that this is a 3-part disease.......
physical, mental, and spiritual. And it emphasizes that the alcoholic
jeapordizes his/her sobriety if he or she does not treat all three parts of
The A.A. program does NOT say, "hey, I've got a disease....... so get off my back. I'm not responsible."
It is just the opposite...... A.A. says that if you have this disease, the
ONLY way to stay sober is to be responsible // make amends.
c.) What happens if the alcoholic tells you to accept his/her rotten
behavior when they are "sober" because they "have a disease"?
This excerpt is from the "Getting Them Sober, volume one" book ------
"If the alcoholic threatens you by saying "you'd better shape up and accept his behavior just because he's not drinking anymore, then he's not sober, he's just dry. All he's done is remove the booze. True sobriety does not behave like that. Sober people are sane people. They don't threaten their families with abandonment just because they are not drinking. As a matter of fact, it is just the opposite------they are so GRATEFUL to the family for sticking with them ------that they try very hard to MAKE AMENDS to them for all the grief of past years.
"Remember: if he chooses to treat only one-third of his disease -- the
physical addiction -- instead of his whole disease-- then he is one who will
suffer. He is the one who is playing Russian roulette with his life."
From Toby Drews, the author of the million-selling "Getting Them Sober'' books, endorsed by 'dear Abby', Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, and Melody Beattie: