Books about alcoholism

As you probably know, there's a whole lot of books about alcoholism. The main problem is very few deal with the physical aspects of alcoholism but instead treat it as a psychological problem. Here's a typical example. The liner notes of Healing Alcoholism by Claude M. Steiner read:

"Alcoholism is not a disease, it is a bad habit. It can be broken and it can be healed."

Then, in the introduction, you find the following paragraph:

There is no evidence that alcoholism satisfies the definition of an illness. Take the example of a thirty-year alcoholic who has been sober for three years. He is in good health and there are no signs or traces in his bodily tissue of any interruption or perversion of any of the organs, any morbid change or any micro-organismal alterations. Yet tomorrow he may go down to the corner bar, have a drink, and within a week be on the skids again. We have plenty of evidence that this is possible.

Remember the Murphy's Law that states. "If everything appears to be normal, you have obviously overlooked something."  He may appear to be physically normal, but one reason he might go into a bar, have a drink and wind up on the skids again is because of some neurotransmitter being out of kilter, probably because of some food he ate or didn't eat. For some reason, the dime store psychologists don't even want to think of that possibility, but I think it's an important one. Now for one last quote from the book. Chapter one begins:

"If alcoholism is not a disease, what is it? I believe that the simplest and yet most valid definition of alcoholism is that it is a very bad habit."

Well, I don't think that's a very productive way of looking at it myself. It's a guilt trip, for one thing, that puts most of the blame on the alcoholic. According to this theory, alcoholism is simply a matter of free will, not determinism. It would be a product of nurture, not nature, yet we know that alcoholism runs in families even when the child is raised by non-biological parents. If  alcoholism were simply a product of nurture, all you'd need is a little talk therapy to overcome it, and as most studies show that almost never works. All of this may seem rather depressing, but luckily, there's another book that takes the opposite approach. Now, let's take a look at the book Seven Weeks to Sobriety, by Joan Mathews Larson PhD. It's introduction begins:

"Alcoholism is not a character defect. It is nor the sign of weak will. It is not a bad habit that needs to be broken. It is a devastating physical disease that damages both mind and body. But recovery is possible."

The thing I like about this book is it shows what is physically out of kilter and what you need to do to fix it. The fix is a special diet to undo the damage that the alcoholism has caused. You have to learn which foods to eat and which to avoid. It also consists of a detox formula of vitamins and minerals. I have no idea if it works, but it sounds a lot more logical than any other book about alcoholism I've seen. It's the only book I've read on the subject that attempts to explain alcoholism from a physical prospective rather than a psychological or spiritual one. It's refreshing to read a book that avoids the moralism or the dime store psychology of the past  books, but instead investigates the physiology of the disease. It looks like things have come a long way since the Big Book was first written. You can find out more by visiting the web site.

Copyright © 1999, Colin Pringle