I was not ready to embark on the journey of heroes just yet. I had been sober for just over 100 days and still there were unanswered questions. On the difficult pathway of transformational change I may well have passed the first milestone and survived my own death but I needed to linger at the journey’s second landmark. To plot my direction and plan my escape, I still had some preparation, still some nagging doubts.
I was confused. Some of the books I had read included Under the Influence (Milam and Ketcham), This Naked Mind (Grace) and The Big Book (Bill W., Dr Bob et al) I had also read several articles wherever I found them. One thing that is not unanimous is the root cause of alcoholism. On the one hand the argument is put forward that it is purely a physiological problem (Milam) but, on the other it could be argued that it is purely a psychological problem. (Grace, Bill W and others)
Is alcoholism an affliction of the mind, or of the body? When I put down Under the Influence I felt I had a load lifted off my shoulders. For the first time in my life I understood my problem and was firmly on the road to recovery. I grew to believe mine was a physiological problem. And yet an article by Alexander DeLuca, M.D. said … “Nothing in my entire experience of alcohol abuse and dependence suggests that it is a disease. Everything that I have experienced, and everything that I have learned from other’s experiences suggests that it is a symptom of some primary imbalance in the problem drinker’s emotional life.”
A comrade at Alcoholics Anonymous had this to say when I asked the question after a meeting one evening: “It’s a good question… although over time, I realised that my need to clutch an answer was just another way for my obsessive brain to over-intellectualise and codify something in order to control it. I’m still curious from an academic and scientific perspective, but I stay cautious about hanging onto the question too tightly. My mind and body are intimately connected, and the categorisation of alcoholism doesn’t really matter for my personal journey.”
Others chimed in “The more I read the less it matters in the end.”
Finally I think I found my answer and was ready to move on. Mercifully I came to some understanding that over those many years of drinking, I wasn’t losing my mind. For me this was a useful point of departure. I realised if it was a physical condition, I would tackle the problem first on that level. No wasting time on a psychologist’s couch. But truthfully sobriety is a journey of body, mind and spirit, and it doesn’t really matter.