Isn’t ‘alcoholism’ a disease cured by abstinence? Shouldn’t they just quit drinking?

The most widely held belief about ‘alcoholism’ is that it is a disease in the brain, chronic and progressive, and can only be cured by stopping drinking. If alcohol is perceived as the cause of a disease then it makes sense to solve the issue by taking the alcohol away, right?

In reality, heavy drinking is not all the same. There is a range of severity and a range of drinking patterns. Addiction to alcohol is a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Science tells us that a genetic predisposition can make someone vulnerable to problems with alcohol.

Neuroimaging research shows that prolonged alcohol use contributes to changes in the brain that lead to reduced control over alcohol consumption. At the same time mental health, learning, family systems, and social norms have influence. Every person’s relationship with alcohol is unique to their biology and life experience and treatment needs to draw on all influencing factors to successfully create change.

In other words, heavy drinking is a learned behaviour and it can be “un”learned with the right tools and support. This is how the Alavida program works:

  1. The medication portion of the program blocks the positive reinforcement of alcohol;
  2. The therapy portion helps individuals learn to control old impulses and develop new healthier behaviours and pleasures in life;
  3. The technology part allows people to connect with their care team from anywhere.

    With your support and understanding, your loved one’s chances of achieving lasting change will be greater.