Alcoholism is a Mental Illness

Alcoholism is a Mental Illness

Stinking Thinking

I bought into the disease theory that Alcoholism is a progressive disease and while that provided relief initially, it also prevented me from confronting my real problem, my thinking. After sitting through thousands of meetings, listening to people struggle with their ongoing issues and personal problems, it started to become evident to me that problems do not go away simply because one halts the addiction. But the focus on character defects and shortcomings kept me from recognizing
and working on the dis-empowering beliefs that I had adopted and continued to hold, and re-enforce, even though I had stopped drinking. I bought into the fallacy that good actions will led to good thinking and that’s simply not true. It was my beliefs and the power I gave them that was causing my problems. I could act good for years but if I still felt, deep inside, that I was inherently bad, then I was just whistling in the dark, and would keep bringing into my life, situations where I would feel I was bad.

Why We Medicate

We drink to help us forget, even for a little while, this feeling, of irritability and discontent. We are Narcissistic, always thinking about me, me, me. We believe that the world revolves around us, this creates an endless need to be accepted and cared for by others. In more severe cases it can cause us to feel that we are not lovable or valuable and that we don’t really belong. We don’t feel safe being our authentic self, so we create a false self, and the fear of this false self being found out, leads to more and more elaborate lies and myth building about who we really are.

Cause and Effect

We judge because we are angry. We are angry because we are afraid. We are afraid because sub-consciously we believe we aren’t enough. We complain because sub-consciously we believe that complaining helps solve problems. We criticize because sub-consciously we believe it makes us feel better about yourselves. We are impatient because sub-consciously we believe that being impatient resolves issues quicker. Our dis-empowering beliefs are the cause, an unmanageable life is the effect. We are irritable and discontent because of this feeling of unmanageability and we seek relief, most commonly in drugs and alcohol.

Addiction is an Allergy

Where for years we drank for relief slowly becomes a habit. Slowly we lose the ability to tell the difference between sobriety and intoxication. Our drinking has become an allergy of mind and body. As we work harder to sustain the myth that we are OK, we become neurotic about being found out. This neurosis further helps establish the dis-empowering beliefs systems with regard to how we interact with the world. So in addition to being a critical, impatient, complainer, we now become arrogant, bossy, and aggressive. We know the innate truth and it makes us even more angry, and discontent.

Bondage of Self

NarcissisticPersonalityDisorder is one of a group of conditions known as dramatic personality disorders. All Narcissists have unstable and intense emotions and a distorted self-image of themselves. Trapped in the bondage of self, we have an excessive sense of importance and superiority, and a preoccupation with success and power, this can also indicate a lack of self-confidence. NPD often involves a deep sense of insecurity and a lack of self-esteem, coupled with a feeling of victimization. Some even exhibit unstable and intense emotions when their self-image is challenged. NPD is one of a group of conditions known in the medical community, as dramatic personality disorders.

NPD is the Root Cause of All Addictions

A study carried out by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, found that 7.7 percent of all men and 4.8 percent of all women develop NPD during their lives. I think the number is much higher, and it directly correlates with the percentage of addictions in the general population. I believe that NPD is the root cause for all addictions. With over thirty years experience in AA, I’ve never meet an alcoholic who wasn’t a Narcissist.

Causes

It is unclear what causes NPD. It may be associated with circumstances during childhood, such as very high parental expectations, over-pampering, neglect, or abuse. An individual may have learned manipulative behaviors from their parents or household members while growing up. If a child learns that vulnerability is not acceptable, this may undermine their ability to tune into other people’s feelings and needs. The NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital points to recent evidence that a genetic predisposition and other biological or biochemical factors may be linked to NPD.

Untreated NPD

A person with untreated NPD has a greater chance of abusing drugs and alcohol, of having depression, relationship problems, difficulties at work or school, and suicidal behaviors or thoughts. A study published in PLoS One found that males with NPD have higher levels of cortisol in their blood. Cortisol is a stress hormone. A person with NPD may have higher levels even when stress levels are low. High blood cortisol is linked to a greater risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

Living with somebody who has NPD

Living with someone who has NPD can be challenging.

Family members have described their loved one as:

  • controlling
  • egotistical
  • frequently dissatisfied with the actions of others
  • prone to blaming others and making them feel guilty for all their problems
  • losing their temper at the slightest provocation
  • turning their back and giving people the “silent treatment”
  • being physically and sexually abusive

Traits

Below are the most common traits found in people with NPD:

  • An insatiable appetite for the attention of others
  • Extreme feelings of jealousy
  • An expectation of special treatment
  • Exaggerating achievements, talents, and importance
  • Extreme sensitivity and a tendency to be easily hurt and to feel rejected with little provocation
  • Difficulty maintaining healthful relationships
  • Fantasizing about their own intelligence, success, power, and appearance
  • An ability to take advantage of others to achieve a goal, without regret or conscience
  • A lack empathy, or ability to understand and share the feelings of others, and a tendency to disregard others’ feelings
  • A belief that only certain people can understand their uniqueness
  • A tendency to consider themselves as skilled in romance
  • Responding to criticism with anger, humiliation, and shame
  • Seeking out praise and positive reinforcement from others
  • An expectation that others will agree with them and go along with what they want
  • Whatever they crave or yearn for must be “the best”

Other Traits

Others may see narcissists as selfish. They may describe the person as self-obsessed, arrogant, tough-minded, and lacking emotion. As we live with these dis-empowering beliefs, as we continue to dishonorourselves, and permit others to dishonor us, our unexpressed anger grows. As this anger grows, eventually it explodes, usually over minor things, and we lash out, hurting our loved ones, and causing remorse. Or we implode, getting angry with ourselves, which causes depression. We lie in order to belong. We pretend, to be different from who we actually are, to fit in, belong, to feel safe, to survive, it’s all a lie. People talk about being honest, and we see them lie all the time.

Dishonesty

We learn denial, the ability to distract ourselves and shut down what we need and want. We deny what we observe or know to be true with others. We create fantasies of how we wish things could be, at the same time making excuses, to do nothing that would change the situation. The more we deny the less we heal, the more we lie to ourselves, the further we get from our true selves. Honesty becomes our biggest challenge.

Diagnosis

No specific lab tests exist that can diagnose NPD, but X-rays and blood tests may help rule out other conditions that may be causing the symptoms. There are several types of personality disorders, some of them overlap, and it is possible to be diagnosed with more than one type. Most people coming into AA don’t realize they may be suffering from the progressive disease of Alcoholism, much less having having a mental illness, we are master manipulators, and we deny even the most obvious symptoms, from ourselves and others.

An NPD diagnosis must follow the criteria written in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the APA (American Psychiatric Association). While the following must be present for a diagnosis of NPD to be made.

All Alcoholics display some if not all these symptoms.

  • The patient’s idea and importance of self is exaggerated.
  • Fantasies about beauty, success, and power dominate the individual’s thoughts.
  • The person thinks they are special, and relate only to other “special” people.
  • They need to be admired all the time.
  • They believe they are entitled to most things.
  • They manipulate and take advantage of others.
  • They lack empathy, the ability to feel and recognize the feelings and needs of others.
  • They envy other people.
  • Their behavior appears haughty or arrogant.

Treatment

Traditionally, addiction was considered to be a moral failing and a question of choice on the part of the drinker, and treatment was in line with that school of thought and included, imprisonment, sentencing to a mental asylum, or religious based intervention involving prayer. Two years after the failure of Prohibition, AA was founded by Bill W. and Dr. Bob, it was based on 12-Steps, a series of principles that used spiritual and moral laws, that if followed offed addicts mental, emotional, and societal rehabilitation. Due primarily to the efforts of Marty Mann (one of the first women to complete the 12-Step program), the National Committee for Education on Alcoholism was formed. They advocated what where at the time radical notions about alcoholism and alcoholics.

Recovery becomes Big Business

In 1956 the American Medical Association declared Alcoholism as an illness, and the modern treatment centers where born. The ability to charge insurance companies for treatment has seen an explosion of the treatment center Industry. Some of which incorporate the latest theories in Psychotherapy and Neural Lingusitics Programming and Aftercare Modalities, some who just offer a high priced 12-Step program. For profit treatment centers have led to many abuses in the name of recovery. (hence the joke that a big book can cost $30,000).

It has to be Your Idea

It is my contention that the reason for the continued poor recovery rates in traditional 12-Step programs, is due to a number of issues. The first being that it’s rarely the addicts idea to attend AA or any other 12-Step program, for that matter, and it’s usually the Law, our your family, that push you into recovery. In 1989, America’s first drug courts began sentencing“nonviolent drug offenders” to 12-step programs, at the time seen as an affordable alternative, in the effort to reduce drunk driving nationwide. A majority of people attending AA for the first time, don’t even want to be there

Unwilling to Change.

Secondly is that AA still focuses primarily on the symptoms of (addiction), and not the cause, the grave psychological problems that underlie them. According to Dr. Lance Dodes, in his book The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry (co-written with Zachary Dodes),” when the Big Book was first published in 1939, it was met with wide skepticism in the medical community. The AMA called it a curious combination of organizing propaganda and religious exhortation. A year later, the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases described it as a rambling sort of camp-meeting confession of experiences … Of the inner meaning of alcoholism there is hardly a word. It is all surface material.” To think that a lasting recovery can be achieved by going to nightly meetings with a group of similarly afflicted individuals, and a set of 12 non-medical guidelines for recovery, half of which require direct appeals to God.is to ignore the last 90 years of Medical and Psychological advances.Simply being open to the mental illness aspect of addiction would improve recovery rates.

To quote Charlotte Kasl, “While the emergence of 12-Step programs and Alcoholics Anonymous where highly significant occasions that did at one time shed new light on alcoholism, without substantial updating this institution falls into the category of Vaclav Havel’s words (the leader of Czechoslovakia): “It no longer provides new, spontaneous, and effective evidence of things hitherto only guessed at.” The 12-Step approach purports to be for all people, but it’s literature lacks
knowledge of most people.”

How To Improve 12-Step Programs

. Combining Psychotherapy, and Neural Linguistic Programming techniques with traditional 12-Step programs would help individuals come to understand what causes their problems and learn how to relate more positively to others. This simple change would result in more constructive discussion about what lies beneath the addiction. How beliefs are the cause and behavior the effect. They could more quickly help a person build up their self-esteem and acquire realistic expectations of themselves and others. Even combining Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), with traditional 12-Step group therapy would be an improvement. CBT helps the patient identify negative beliefs and behaviors, in order to replace them with healthful, positive ones. Medication may help with some of the more distressing aspects of NPD

Recovery

Recovery can still follow the 12-steps format, with guidance by those who have found recovery, from this seemingly hopeless state of mind and body. .Basic Psychotherapy and Neural-Linguistic Programming techniques should be incorporated in the program or at least utilized by those who have recovered. This would be useful in helping people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder relate to others in a healthier and more compassionate way.

Thinking caused the Drinking

Ever wonder why your alcoholic? Well it’s our stinking thinking that leads to our drinking. And until we understand our thinking, we will continue to drink. To understand our thinking, we must focus on the behavior and walk it back. All external events go through a mental filter of beliefs, values, and memories, before reaching our inner perception of ourselves, (our story), and based on our emotional state at the time of the event, a response will be arrived at. The more we respond to opinions and feelings, the more dis-empowering the beliefs we hold. Beliefs we might not even realize we have. All beliefs are limited by nature, we don’t know what we don’t know.

In Conclusion

Acting and doing good, only acted as a displacement mechanism. It only shifted my attention but did not reach, my deep held beliefs, that I was not only not good enough or smart enough, but not deserving enough, to be truly happy. As long as I held on to these beliefs, real recovery would be out of reach, and that the best I could hope for, would be a stalemate between me and my addictions, doomed to forever be in recovery but never recovered. Lucky for me I had a psychic change sufficient to change these deep-seated beliefs and to know what God’s will is for me and the power to carry them out. I want to share my experiences with you, in order that you might find true recovery a lot faster than I did.

As always, thanks for visiting. Dave

 

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