Is There a Cure for Alcoholism and Drug Addiction?
We often hear the term “cure” used as the ultimate restoration of health from one disease or another. A cure is something external that corrects or relieves a harmful or disturbing situation. Researchers are working diligently to find the cure for cancer, heart disease, obesity, alcoholism, addiction, and every other undesirable human condition that might generate pharmaceutical sales.
Modern medicine has made miraculous strides in curing countless diseases from polio to tetanus. These diseases were once killers and now virtually eliminated from modern civilization. Medicine has also created a host of medications that relieve symptoms of disease making it possible for people to live longer and more productive lives. Examples of these controllable conditions are high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension. While there is no cure for these diseases, by taking medication, some people can live symptom-free lives.
Is there a cure for alcoholism and drug addiction? If one does not exist, is it possible that science can discover the cure for alcoholism and drug addiction?
The cure implies that something external will alleviate the disease and does not require the person suffering from the disease to make any internal change. For example, a person suffering from high cholesterol can take a drug to manage symptoms and do nothing to change the lifestyle that created the problem in the first place. Essentially they do not need to change anything about their lives, only take a drug. Are they cured? Some would argue that they are only managing symptoms and have not solved the root cause of their problem. However, their cholesterol is lower and they have a lower risk of a heart attack. In this case, the cure works until another symptom associated with their lifestyle or a side effect of the medication appears.
The term cure for alcoholism and drug addiction implies that a person suffering from the disease will not have to make changes in their lives. Since addiction affects every aspect of a person, body, mind, soul, and spirit, it is unlikely that a cure will be discovered that does not require the person to make dramatic changes in their lives. While the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) has defined addiction, in part, as “a primary chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory, and related circuitry”, anyone suffering from the disease of addiction knows it is much more than that. Addiction is a disease of the soul and the spirit. People suffering from soul-sickness or a spiritual void typically use an addictive behavior or substance to mask pain or soothe a deep longing for something more in their lives. They may be bored, angry, lonely, frustrated, wounded, or looking to fit in. Alcohol, drugs, or some type of compulsive behavior initially provides relief, even a glimpse of euphoria, but that is always short-lived. What was euphoria eventually becomes a nightmare that requires more alcohol, drugs, or something to endure. The cycle of addiction can not be cured by medication. Even if the new definition of addiction by ASAM is partially correct, a simple change in brain chemistry will not cure the underlying, root cause of the disease of addiction. The cure for alcoholism and drug addiction can only come from internal change. This is often called a spiritual awakening.
Spiritual awakenings rarely happen as one event, such as what Bill Wilson experienced as a beam of light. Spiritual awakenings often happen as a result of ongoing work to resolve internal blocks to our true nature. These blocks are the result of old faulty belief systems, trauma, neglect, toxicity, societal programming, or any number of things that lead us to believe we are separate and disconnected.
These blocks exist everywhere in our being –body, mind, soul, and spirit–and not just the physical level that can be addressed with medication. Therefore recovery for alcoholism and drug addiction lies in a holistic approach to recovery. By working holistically we are working on every aspect of ourselves at the same time. This is clearly the quickest and most effective path toward sustainable recovery. Recovery from addiction lies within each one of us.