What is the Cycle of Alcoholism?

The Cycle of Alcoholism

Alcoholism is a progressive and fatal disease. Without help, the disease can completely overtake or destroy a person’s life. When an individual suffers from alcoholism, they are entirely powerless over alcohol. No matter how severe the consequences of drinking may be, they are unable to stop without help. They will continue to pursue drinking until they reach one of three possible outcomes: jails, institutions, or death.

Alcoholism is a disease that encompasses the mind, body, and spirit. There are certain traits of the disease that are always present: a spiritual malady, a mental obsession, and a physical allergy. The spiritual malady can best be described as a sense of overwhelming restlessness, irritability, and discontentment which an individual self-medicates with alcohol. A mental obsession with intoxication constantly returns an individual to drinking, no matter how strong their will to abstain may be. The physical allergy, or “phenomenon of craving,” causes a lack of control once alcohol has entered into the body.

The Three Components to Create a Cycle

The three components combine to create a cycle of alcoholism that afflicts nearly every individual suffering from the disease. The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous explains the cycle: “They are restless, irritable, and discontented, unless they can again experience the sense of ease and comfort which comes at once by taking a few drinks—drinks they see others taking with impunity.

After they have succumbed to the desire again, as so many do, and the phenomenon of craving develops, they pass through the well-known stages of a spree, emerging remorseful, with a firm resolution not to drink again. This is repeated over and over, and unless a person can experience an entire psychic change there is very little hope of his recovery.”

Alcoholism is not the result of a moral failing or mental weakness. An individual suffering from the disease may be able to use common sense and willpower in every other area of their life. When it comes to alcohol, however, they are powerless. We may be able to abstain from drinking for some time, but due to the progressive nature of the disease, we will never be able to return to a time when we may have been able to control our drinking.

The Big Book further explains, “We know that while the alcoholic keeps away from drink, as he may do for months or years, he reacts much like other men. We are equally positive that once he takes any alcohol whatever into his system, something happens, both in the bodily and mental sense, which makes it virtually impossible for him to stop.”

Without help, overcoming the disease of alcoholism is unlikely. You can make the decision to seek help now and begin building a happy, joyous, and free life in sobriety. The Lakehouse Recovery Center, located on beautiful Lake Sherwood in Southern California, is one of California’s foremost leaders in alcohol abuse treatment, along with the treatment for nearly all forms of chemical dependency. For information about individualized treatment options, please call today: (877) 762-3707


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