is addiction a choice?

Discussion in 'Substance Abuse' started by antsmom, Oct 3, 2007.

  1. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    my cousin's son was 31, father of 3, buried yesterday. drank himself to death. pancreatitis killed him by bleeding. he refused to go to the hospital and died. his mother is grief stricken, seeing the casket taken away by the hearse to be cremated, I also broke down with her and clung to her crying. his 10 yr old son sobbed and trembled.

    my son is drinking a 30 pack of beer every night. he is terrified of the upcoming journey to the state penitentiary. my nephew (ant's cousin) works at a facility in Ohio. I emailed him that I was unhappy that there is nothing that can be done other than jail for this 4th DUI. this is what he wrote back:
    I wish Tony would have committed his 4th DUI in Montgomery County, Ohio, he could then come to my facility, we specialize in DUI offenders. Prison is mandatory in Ohio for 4th DUI guys in this State as well. I personally believe addiction is a choice. Obviously, Tony continues to make bad choices.

    ant (tony) did not go to work today. he cannot sleep. he has klonipin and sleeping pills but drinks instead. last night he took three trazadone after drinking and still couldnt sleep.

    I know there is a popular book called "addiction is a choice" and other people are starting to debate whether it is a choice or a disease. the way it makes my son miserable, I cannot think it is a choice.
  2. KFld

    KFld New Member

    That is a very tough question. I don't think it's a choice. I believe it happens and then you have to make the choice to do what ever is in your power to stop, if that is what you truly want.

    I believe the individual chose to drink, or chose to start doing drugs, but didn't choose to become addicted. Does that make sense?? The choice is what to do about it once you admit you are addicted. I'm not an alcoholic or an addict, so I guess it's easy for me to say it's a choice to quit, but I just don't really know.

    Either way, 31 is so very young and that is so sad :frown:
  3. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    If there is anyone who truly believes that addiction is a choice, I challenge them to a debate.

    Karen is right, in that it is a choice to take a drink or a drug in the first place.

    When you become addicted, there is no choice. it is like choosing to have high cholesterol.

    However, you *do* have the choice to remain miserable and live with your addiction, or get help and arrest the addiction.

    The difference between treating this disease and treating any other disease is that treating an addiction A) makes you admit you have a problem, which so many people cannot do, and B) forces you to feel everything that you originally took the drugs to cover up, which so many people WILL not do.

    For so many people, getting through the initial embarrassment of admitting their problem and working through their pain is not worth the joy that they aren't even aware exists on the other side. For them, sitting in the disease is easier. They never have to feel.

    For many more, the choice to quit is there, but the determination to stay with it is not. These are the ones that come in and out through the revolving door. These are the ones that skeptics look at and say "aha! AA is not for everyone!"

    The skeptics can bite me. Anyone can follow the program. But they have to want to first. You can't make them.

    You can't make someone who is suffering from high cholesterol follow a low fat, low cholesterol diet, either. But it works if they do it.
  4. saving grace

    saving grace New Member

    Big Bad and Karen said exactly what I was going to say after reading your post. I believe that it is the individuals choice to start in the first place but that becoming and addict is not by choice. Its a disease just like any other. Treatment and recovery is hard work and unfortunately most with addictions are weak and have low self image and other mental health issues as well and its seems easier to them to drink and drug than to go through the hard work to stop.

    I think Ant has given up. Period. I do not believe in rock bottom, I believe that anyone can start recovery when they get to that place in their heart that they cant stand it anymore. Some just wake up one day and thats it, they stop, some go to prison, some lose family some die.

    I pray for Ant, I pray for you.

    I am so very sorry for your loss, 31 is so so young.

    Addiction is not a choice. Shame on your nephew for thinking so.

  5. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I think BBK said it well. I also think some folks are more prone to addiction than others. That is why some people can drink socially and not become alcoholics and others cant drink at all because it will send them over the edge.

    If ant is drinking that much a day he is killing himself slowly. His pancreas wont be able to keep up. If he does manage to ever get sober he is in for a very painful time with chronic pancreatitis.
  6. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    100% right Janet! Some people have the addict gene in their DNA before they ever pick up the first drink. Not everyone becomes an addict. That is the other very difficult thing for the addict to face and accept. They will never be able to drink again if they get help. By they time that they are deep into their addiction, I can promise you that they do not WANT to sit down to 24 or 30 beers, or a 5th of vodka, or whiskey until they blackout. They wish that they could go back to drinking like their non-addict friends. Once you cross the line from abuse to addiction, you can never go back.

    Even if you stay sober for 10 years, and decide "hey, I've been good, I think I'll have a beer" will pick up right where you left off.

    So many addicts want to learn how to drink responsibly. They don;t want to quit drinking. And that is just not an option.

    It is a sucky disease to have. But keep praying for the addict. They may get to that point. Call it a bottom. Call it a moment of clarity. Call it an epiphany. Some people don't get it until way later in life. The hard part is blind faith. He won't get it in YOUR time.

    It happens in GOD's time.
  7. AllStressedOut

    AllStressedOut New Member

    I think everyone has an addiction. Mine is food. I love food. I started exercising to try and get my weight under control, but I'm not willing to give up the food I love. I'll eat less of the food I love, but I won't give it up completely. It's just too hard for me.

    I think others get addicted to drugs or alcohol because once they start it, they like how it makes them feel. They don't want to give up that feeling. If something else made them feel that way, they would probably be willing to switch to it. I don't think they want to spend a bajillion dollars on either of those habits, but they can't stop because it feels too good.

    Same with smoking cigarettes or any other addiction. It sets off our brain in a way we like so we keep doing it.

    They are doing a study in a county near by with a drug for addiction. It is supposed to set off the same part of our brain that says we want "meth, vodka, cocaine, beer" whatever the addiction may be. They are using it in mostly the criminal courts on heavy users or addicts. I'll be curious to see the outcome.
  8. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    So sorry to hear about your cousin's son. That is so sad.

    I don't believe that addiction is a choice, once you're hooked that's the end of the game. It's a matter of "staying stopped" that is so hard for so many.

    My mother in law died last year from her alcoholism. She was 58. She was told 5 years ago that if she drank again she'd be dead within a year. As far as anyone knows due to bank records from beverage stores, she died within 6 weeks of continuing her drinking. This, after nearly 5 years dry. But, she wouldn't go to was beneath her.

    I didn't have a dad because he is an alcoholic...didn't meet him til I was 17. He couldn't father me because of his addiction.

    Now my sons too...
    Addiction is NOT a choice, it's in the DNA I am absolutely convinced. A daily reprieve is all that is promised..."One day at a time" living. Just for today, etc.

    husband and I are both addicts as well.
    I have to be very careful that anything I take does not become a crutch. A couple of years ago I was abusing Klonopin and sleeping much of the day away. I had to be hospitalized and come down from a physical withdrawal with the help of another drug.

    Addiction runs in your family too, Janet.
    Ant comes by this naturally and he will have to get help from AA and learn how to live one day at a time in order to "arrest" the disease, as BBK put it. I don't think your nephew knows what he's talking about.

    The fact that Tony's alcoholism is getting in the way of him being able to function and go to work says alot.
    I would imagine he is having trouble sleeping, I would too if I were him. I am so sorry that he and you continue to live in pain.

    love and hugs,
    Tammy I said above, Klonopin is what I got hooked on a couple of years ago, so Tony needs to be careful with that as well. It can be abused and the physical withdrawal from stopping suddenly is the "devil". I know.

  9. SunnyFlorida

    SunnyFlorida Active Member

    Janet, I'm so sorry your relative has died at such a young age. Addiction is a horrible disease.

    It sounds to me like your nephew works in a correctional facility that houses inmates who are mostly habitual DUI offenders. It doesn't sound like he is a professional though. A professional or one who has been thoroughly educated in disease processes can see where the choice began and the disease took over.

    It sounds more to me like he sees the same type of individual over and over again. Some doing more damage than others. in my humble opinion when one works in a facility like that, their opinion may become jaded.

    There were choices that Ant could have made, ie not driving but drinking at home. I think in our society right now, there's not alot of help/assistance available due to funding so there's only containment. That containment is prison.

    I'm so sorry Ant is drinking so much now and feeling so overwhelmed. It's not surprising to me, but it's still sad. I send you lots of cyber strength as I'm sure this is so painful to watch.
  10. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat


    Even though these things happen in God's time, I still pray for Ant. Nothing wrong with giving God a little nudge every now & then.
  11. PonyGirl

    PonyGirl Warrior Parent

    janet, I agree with the others here who deny that addiction is a "choice". My addiction is a very real disease.

    What I do think is a choice, however, is drunk driving.

  12. Sunlight

    Sunlight Active Member

    my gramma as well as ant's paternal grandpap were alcoholics.
    I do not think it is a choice but I do think he makes bad choices when drunk. I think he drinks to calm anxiety and it seems to call to him.
    lately the whole family has made such unkind remarks to me about ant. some say he wants to be lazy and go to jail (not true) some say he is a bum (he works hard) some are just mean.

    I need to not talk to a lot of them for a while as it is going to get harder as October 17 approaches.
  13. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    The only people who advocate addiction as a choice are those who have never struggled with addiction or loved someone who has.

    NO ONE desires to live the life of an addict. No one.

    Blow the people off who don't get it. Chock it up to ignorance.

    I'm sorry your family has made unkind remarks. Everyone's got an opinion. Not everyone's opinion is correct or worth considering.

    (((( hugs janet))))
  14. goldenguru

    goldenguru New Member

    I think that there are times when the addiction has got such a stranglehold on the addict that seeking treatment is nearly impossible.

    The old adage "You can lead a horse to water, but ya can't make it drink" applies well to treatment in my opinion.

    As loved ones, you can point the way ... take them by the hand ... even drag them kicking and screaming ... but eventually they have to seek the treatment and become invested in it. Or ... the treatment is futile.

    That is why recidivism is so high for drug treatment programs. Many are there by the hand of the law ... or the heavy hand of the family.

    We can want it for our family member ... but ultimately they have to want it for themselves more.
  15. lovemysons

    lovemysons Well-Known Member

    I think you are right, just stay away from those relatives that don't know how to support you right now.

    You are hurting...this is YOUR CHILD no matter what he did, does ect. That's exactly how I feel about my sons. I love them and hurt for them when they are consequenced. No one wants to see their child go off to jail or prison.
    I wish your family would be a soft shoulder for you to lean on during this time. Some people have no idea how hurtful their words can be and sadly they are remembered down the's the times we needed them most and they didn't come through for us. been there done that.

    Just thinking of you and Tony, the baby Kaleb.
    We are here for you.

    hugs and love,
  16. ck1

    ck1 New Member

    Janet: I'm so sorry for you and your family. I don't have any personal experience with drugs or alcohol, but for what it's worth, I do agree with everyone else here that it's not really a choice, it's in your DNA.

    I can't believe people, your family, would actually say those things to you about your own son...aren't you feeling enough pain? People shouldn't be so judgmental.
  17. Big Bad Kitty

    Big Bad Kitty lolcat

    I think people are ignorant.

    They see a drug addict, they think "well why doesn't he just stop?" A lot of them do not want to hear about it being a disease because to them it sounds like an excuse.

    And many addicts have used it as an excuse to continue using. "Well I have a disease. Woe is me. I guess this is my life". It is easier than working through the pain that they are trying so hard to avoid.

    I also want to voice my opinion, that I agree with the earlier statements about driving drunk. I also believe it to be a choice. Within the "community" of drunks, you have responsible drunks, irresponsible drunks, functioning drnks, non-functioning drunks...much like in society as a whole. A lot of drunks KNOW how they get once they start drinking, and they either stay at home and do not drive anywhere, or if they are out, they give their keys up before they even start. Others just think they are fine. You can't convince them otherwise.

    Sigh. Anyways.
  18. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    BBK, I think you're right. People are ignorant, and they just do not understand how someone can't stop. People don't choose to be addicts...they are hard wired that way. That being said, the things people do when they are drunk or using...those are choices. seems like family can sometimes be so much more cruel and hurtful than anyone else. I guess it's because they feel they can say anything to you and still be loved and forgiven, and because they're family, it hurts so much more when they say it.

    Ant'smom, take care of yourself and surround yourself with people who support you. Ant is suffering from his choices, and you are suffering along with him. You don't need others adding to your burden right now...rather they should be sharing the burden with you. If they can't help, then they should get out of the way.

    You and Ant are in my thoughts and prayers.

  19. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I so agree with this whole thread... it hits home. My Dad is a Heroin addict... but after 5 years of "being good" he would do it again... I would find him almost dead in bed, drag him to the clinic on Haight... oops! Same with Cocaine, he ended up with 7 yes 7 DUI's... he was locked up in a treatment center when I was 15 and 16. He played the game... embraced AA... until he got out! We had a party to celebrate, complete with drinking and drugs... oh yeah he figured it wasn't as bed if he fed his kids the stuff also.

    House arrest for a year when I was 19... he actually went 10 years being sober, just smoked pot, just...

    But now he thinks because he has been so good, oh he can drink now... and do drugs again. The addiction had expired!!!
    My brother thinks the same way... if you take a break for awhile. Well then you get to drink again or do drugs again.
    I have a hard time not just feeling complete disgust for my Father and brother, they hurt so many people. Have been in prison, have chosen the addiction over their kids, (not chose to be addicted) are very lucky they are alive.
    I watch my mother in law just have a glass of wine... a bottle and half later... oh the next day she is "sick" "I must be coming down with something".

    Janet you are amazing, the patience and tolerence that have... I am sorry.
  20. totoro

    totoro Mom? What's a GFG?

    I have a friend that will sit and go on and on with his rightous attitude about how people choose to drink and do drugs... I stopped arguing awhile ago, he feels stupid, ignorant people have addictions. If they were smart they would quit!

    I want to slap him... I sat with him and said if you have ever truly been with an addict you would not be saying that. If you had ever experienced the pain and misery that and addict does, you might have some compassion and empathy... he doesn't

    I have no time for him...