The Disease Is My Cure

Used 2013-03-06 It's A Pill (AlKHall Anonymous recvoery sobriety)

It’s A Pill

Today, i read about a pill that cures alcoholism. Well, not exactly “cures” it, but helps at-risk drinkers reduce their alcohol consumption by decreasing the positive effects of alcohol on the brain.

Like many things, this got me thinking.

Imagine there’s a pill that would magically allow me to drink like a normal person. Would i take it and drink again?

The answer is, i hope not.

It was never about the alcohol for me. i drank like i did everything else: to fill a hole, not realizing i was a bottomless pit. Doing everything compulsively to reach an unreachable goal made me miserable, so then i drank to kill that too.

Fortunately, my sickness led me to recovery, and in recovery i have learned how to make myself happier than i ever was drinking. Turns out my alcoholism forced me into a place where i either had to learn to be happy or die. Ironically, my disease was the cure to my life’s ills.

So, no magic pill for me. i don’t need alcohol to be happy and i don’t need a pill to be happy, either.

Sobriety alone is good enough.

What about you? Could you be tempted by a pill that would possibly reduce your alcohol intake?



About Al K Hall

Like a battered drinker or a punch drunk boxer, i am here for another round. For those of you who don’t know me, i’m a semi-professional writer on the rocks and a non-practicing alcoholic (if after 30 years of practicing, you still can't do something well, it's best to just give it up). For those of you who do know me, thanks for stopping by anyway and where’s the ten bucks you owe me? Welcome to my Bar None. A hole in the wall where we can hang out and trade the kind of stories you swap only when you’ve had one too many and either can’t find your way home or are afraid to. Hell, it’s cheaper than therapy and plus the pictures are prettier. Here we’ll crack open bottles and jokes and ‘last call’ are the only dirty words you’ll never hear. Pull up a stool and make yourselves at home.

Posted on March 6, 2013, in Alcoholism, Lessons in Recovery, Recovery and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 26 Comments.

  1. My answer at this time would be YES. I miss so may tactile/sensual things that wine drinking offered me. White wine in a glass goblet seduced my sense of smell, taste, touch, sound and sight. I would pay big bucks to take that pill and be able to drink moderately.

    I have yet to find what you describe in recovery. I don’t doubt that it’s real and attainable because ultimately I seek to be comfortable in my own body without numbing with alcohol. Happy? That’s pushing it!

    Yes, I am early in sobriety. I’m struggling with step one.


    • Hi Fern!

      Early recovery is tough because we lose the crutch but don’t feel the benefits of walking on our own. For me, i felt robbed because, more than just losing the crutch, the crutch had lost its appeal for me so i knew there was on way i could go back to it and i felt alone.

      What worked for me was completely throwing myself into my sobriety / recovery. As i’m in AA, i felt starting to feel liberated when i found a sponsor, started working the steps, and started going to at least four meetings a week. That’s when i began to find the happiness i talk about here.

      i’ll keep you in my thoughts, my friend!

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  2. Al – awesome post. This kind of discussion comes up now and then on recovery boards, and you have said exactly what I have always wanted to say, but never did. Alcoholism isn’t so much about alcohol as it is about the need to fill something that is missing…and it just happens to be booze. it could be gambling, sex, drugs, shopping, etc. So it’s that need, that want, that thing that we chase to feel good, and in the end it’s filled with our Higher Power. So then why would I want alcohol then, even if it could be “controlled”?

    Recovery is where it’s at for me, and no pill or magic potion could want me to leave the path that I am on right now. Peace and serenity can’t be found in a glass…no matter how much I want it to be there.

    Wise, wise words, Al!


    • Thanks for the visit, Paul!

      “It was never about the alcohol.” That’s really the bottom line in all of this, isn’t it? Thank our Higher Powers that we found our way out of that pne.

      Keep coming back, brother,

      Al K Hall

  3. Turns out my alcoholism forced me into a place where i either had to learn to be happy or die. Ironically, my disease was the cure to my life’s ills.

    It was time to deal with the hole! (*giggle*) But truly, a pill will never help someone do that part of handling **why** there is an urge to drink in the first place. It’s only a Band-Aid.

    I see alcoholism and/or any other deep problem in life as primarily an emotional/spiritual one — I know that there is a physical component in alcoholism, too, but I think that is something that a person has little or no control over. It’s DNA and biochemistry that we can work with, but never really change (except to shift body chemistry — a whole ‘nother carton of eggs…). Emotions and spiritual growth can be changed by a person. Anyway, I see the underlying question of WHY one drinks as linked to primarily emotional and spiritual core issues, and not ones that can be solved via religion, either, only issues that can be solved by self-examination. One can do that same self-examination outside of the 12-step program, getting down to the core issues, but since the program does already exist and is successful for the people who “buy into” it and work with it, why reinvent the wheel? Unless someone (as some readers do here) really have objections, and ones that just don’t work for them to be in a 12-step. I get that. But eventually a person who has the jones to drink and keep drinking is *going* to have to do the inner work and processing, else they will never really succeed at getting off the sauce. Just my observation and opinion, and partly based on what I know of the other side of the coin of codependence.

    Summation? Pill = shortcut. The shortcut will eventually bite one in the ass.

    Now, if someone said I could take a pill to eat regular bread again? Hmmmm. Mebbe. I do miss the fluffiness that wheat flour brings to baked goods. Not for cheese or other dairy products, though. The smell anymore skeeves me out so badly, I don’t think I ever want to eat it again, and I formerly really liked cheese, milk, cream, etc. To those people who say, “I will die if I don’t eat cheese (or other dairy)!” I am here to say you won’t, and you may even turn on it completely 180°!


    • P.S. LOL @ “Mr. Hugh Jass” hahahaha. Reminds me of how I learned to call Hugh Jackman as Hugh Jackoff. Almost the same thing. the 12-yr-old in my head was highly entertained by that pill bottle! 😀

    • I love the ” pill = shortcut” comment.


    • The Pill=Shortcut message is spot on. Ironically, for us alcoholics, it was the same reasoning when we were drinking in the equation Alcohol = Shortcut to happiness / peace / escape… i ahgree that switching from a bottle to a pill isn’t a big improvement.

      There’s a spiritual element to my sobriety that no pill could give me and so, even if i could drink ‘safely’ again, i’d still feel like i was missing out on something in my life.

      Thanks for the visit, babe, and keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  4. Ha! This is a debate for the ages! Lol! This pill doesn’t sound like antabuse, which makes you sick if you drink, it was once perscribed to me, and well the problem was i just didnt take it LoL! I think though if there was a pill that let me drink like normal people i am not sure if i would take it, i mean I always say i wish i could drink like normal people, but I was really thinking, how drunk could you I get? See for me i wanted to be able to get obliterated and still function in society. Moderation was not what i wanted! Lol! And yes, today I totally belive that no amout of alcohol could fill my hole and alcohol was just a symptom, there was alot of other crap to deal with. So no thank you, i’ll take sobriety.

    • Al, do you still have that Antabuse in the medicine cabinet? LOL. That stuff sat there and sat there for ages… I just thought of that when I read this comment!

    • No, the pill is being tested in Europe and works on the brain in reducing the pleasure received from drinking, not making the drinker suffer from an instant hangover.

      i had some Antabuse as well but, like you, never took it not even once. i couldn’t see the point in taking “pleasure” out of drinking so never gave it a shot. i’m still kind of glad i didn’t, because Antabuse never would have given me the spiritual side of recovery i’m finding now and, honestly, it’s that spiritual aspect that is making my sobriety “stick” and making it worthwhile.

      Thanks, NSL and keep coming back!
      Al K Hall

  5. Early in recovery, my brother told me about an FDA approved pill that blunted alcohol’s pleasurable effects. He swore he was able to drink moderately while taking it. Pretty sure the drug was only meant to be taken sans alcohol, but whatever. It apparently didn’t work for him because he’s newly sober. So, so glad I didn’t buy into a seductively easy solution to my drinking problem.

    I so agree that my disease also led to the only chance I have at true peace and happiness. Life is harder in some ways without a crutch, but every time I get through a rough spot I am once again reminded how much better and easier life is sober.

    Thank you for another timely, poignant post.

    • Unfortunately, it would seem that even in sobriety, it’s still “no pain, no gain”! i’m so glad we found our way out of that whole. Thanks for the visit and the kind words, my friend.

      Keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  6. Wow. I truly don’t believe pills help alcoholism or other addictions. Heaven help me, i think i enjoy the struggle more than the “magic”. I believe in content, but not magic.

    Nice post, as usual. So glad you have discovered that you don’t need alcohol or pills to be happy.

    Also, I read in one of the comments that life doesn’t necessarily get “easier”, but it’s a lot better and much less murky without the residual and direct effects of alcohol or other harmful addictive behaviors.

    • What a true statement: Life doesn’t get easier in recovery. So true. In fact, it’s sometimes the opposite in that we’re forced to deal with our shit rather than run away and hide from it so the argument could be made living sober is in a way harder. But oh so much more fulfilling!

      Thanks, Mel, and keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  7. Iucundum Platea

    Interesting post and replies. I’d like to add to the comments please. For me, and speaking strictly for me, this particular pill doesn’t sound like it would fit the bill. I agree that it does not fill the “hole” I find myself so needing to fill. However, with your permission, let’s take the pill idea a little further down the road. What if a medication was developed that not only halted the want of booze but also took care of the “hole” problem. And what if the “hole” was a physical (chemical) malfunction in the brain, not behavioral. Now, stay with me, I am not negating the “higher power”, quite the contrary, I believe God is and He reaches out to us and has made a Way for us to commune with Him regardless of our “holes”. But that’s not what I am addressing here. I am asking, could the true alcoholic’s malady be purely physical and if so, could the appropriate medication remedy the disease?

    There are different degrees of alcoholics or alcoholics at different stages. Many alcoholics or drug addicts self medicate to seek relief from metal conditions. Let’s take what may be considered an extreme example. A person diagnosed with schizophrenia may be able to successfully alleviate some or most of their symptoms with prescribed medication. Without the proper medication they are almost guaranteed to relapse into their illness and possibly self medicate with alcohol and/or drugs which have the potential to trigger a psychotic episode. Many of these unfortunate souls may end up in the hospital, on the street, or incarcerated. With the proper medication they have a chance at a positive lifestyle. Without the proper medication they remain inside their paranoia, delusion, and confusion. Proper medication gives them an opportunity to heal. Without prescribed medication nothing begins to fill the hole of their lives. Their disease is chronic and sadly many of these victims reject the notion of proper medication because their symptoms tell them not to believe or trust anything other than their delusions. Many researchers say these persons are ill from birth but the more obvious symptoms do not appear until their late teens or early twenties. It has been reported many types of metal illnesses share the same DNA traits. The mentally ill have a physical dysfunction in the brain. Medication changes that dysfunction in such a way that their brain has an opportunity to function as it should. Medications have been available for fifty plus years but newer second generation meds have fewer and less severe side effects. Proper medication is the key, and when combined with abstinence from street drugs and a low stress lifestyle, positive outcomes result. I believe that one day these mostly misunderstood mental illnesses will be better recognized and treated allowing for much better outcomes for those ill and society as a whole.

    Now take a less extreme example of another chronic mental disorder or disease, alcoholism. Let’s skip the details but perhaps you and I have similar stories. So I’ve set the bottle down but still contend with the “hole” or “inner work”. If this is a character flaw then I am barking up the wrong tree with this reply but if my alcohol disease is a less extreme example of the schizophrenic’s physical mental disease although still a physical mental disease then perhaps proper medication would be an appropriate answer for my alcoholic symptoms. I can also think of it as hypertension vs. a myocardial infraction. Both involve blood and the muscle that pumps that blood through our bodies. Both are physical problems leading to poor futures for our body. Both act with different speeds and severity but both have the same eventual outcome. Both can be treated with medication to varying degrees. Medication is the key but lifestyle changes such as proper exercise, diet, and low stress are factors in recovery and remission. If my particular alcoholic brain can be compared to my high blood pressure then theoretically with the proper medication and lifestyle my alcoholic tendencies or symptoms could be alleviated. I am suggesting that proper principle medication along with lifestyle changes could give me the best opportunity for recovery from my alcohol disease including the “holes” that my delusional reasoning demands to be filled with something. The medication is not just an anti-alcohol device. The medication could be the factual repair for my “holes”, my disease, not just the alcoholic materialized symptom.

    That’s a lot of typing to say the “holes” may be the disorder or disease, alcoholism one of the symptoms, and the prescribed medication combined with a proper lifestyle the lifetime treatment. If only we had the proper medication.

    Had I not written this reply but just read it my thoughts would be, “and if wishes were horses we’d all be riding” or “this guy is an idiot”. Meanwhile, as a man who does not want to drink alcohol again, I’ll just have to do the best I can while depending on the Grace of God, contemplation, the strength of will, and help from the sober minded society of the internet who are teaching me how to dodge the holes. Thank you. Hope your day goes well.

    • I get this, I really do. I see what it is saying. It’s looking at it from a purely medical sort of view, and is valid. Not idiotic. If I understand correctly, the basic idea is that the “hole” (the emotional/spiritual void) is there because of a biological origin, so taking medication for the condition may solve the hole.

      It’s not bad logic at all, if one has the premise that all conditions are in their origin biological and can be solved with medicine.

      However, let’s flip the premise and say, as many like Louise Hay has become famous for (but which many others have written about, too, including MDs), that the origin of biological conditions in the body is actually spiritual and/or emotional. In other words, that the body, when it experiences intense emotion, positive or negative, stores it in the body as a kind of energetic response and that stored energy, especially when negative, can become disease.

      So, you get enough stored negatively polarized energy (from negative emotions) in the body, and you begin to have medical issues that result. Let’s say that the genetic code gives a predisposition, but that emotional triggers are the thing that actually set the disease in motion.

      There are many, for example, that think the formation of overgrowth of cancer cells are “fed” or activated by negative stress in the body — everyone already carries cancer cells; it is their overgrowth that leads to malignancy.

      What if we could cure our bodies just based on how we think and feel, and changing that around?

      Just throwing that out there not as a criticism of the comment or even as an argument trying to invalidate it — just putting in a counterpoint to the point. 🙂

    • @Iucundum Platea

      Very interesting comment and you’ve made some great points.

      It seems like we’re stepping around the issue of alcoholism as a physical or mental disease, which comes up every now and then in the rooms in AA. i don’t really feel myself concerned in the debate when it arises in the rooms because while i know that there is a history of alcoholism in both sides of my family, my sister is not an alcoholic and i am.

      Yes, alcoholism is a disease and i know that my personal brand of the disease contains a physical element and a mental element. i also know that i went sober before (for 6 months, after which i planned to drink again) without addressing the spiritual element and it did not feel as rewarding as the recovery i’ve been enjoying for over 2 years now.

      So, yes, a pill may cure my symptoms because alcoholism was a symptom of a deeper hurt, but it would not cure my disease, which has a combined spiritual / psychological dimension.

      Thank you so much, Iucundum Platea, for the time and thought you put into your response!

      And keep coming back,

      Al K Hall

  8. inthesameboatla

    The answer to that, and the other meds that are supposed to help with alcohol problems is “no.” The reason is that you have no guarantee that it is safe and there is no point in taking something for the rest of your life that has risks if you can solve the problem without it.

  9. Ooooh good question. I’d like to think my answer would be no. Because then I’d probably just find a way to abuse those pills, lol. My life is so much better when I’m sober.

  10. Hi Al. I’d say no to the pill. Like we briefly talked about, it is about the pit. something will fill the void (or try to). Right now, I’m using drives to the lake as my outlet and finding a peace I could never imagine. Thanks for the post. L.

  11. Hello!
    I know that I am jumping in a little late on this post and its comments, but I just found your blog today! I don’t know if the medication you are talking about is naltrexone, but that is something that has recently come on the market to help people in recovery and treatment for addiction. This medication is available in the US (although relatively new) at several treatment centers, including Hazelden, which is where I went through treatment. I can speak from experience, since I have actually been on this medication.

    The medication is not a treatment for alcoholism, and its intention is not to allow a person to drink “normally”. Although, we in AA know that for us alcoholics, there is no such thing as drinking normally. The medication is to meant to block the receptors in our brain that give us pleasure from drinking (and its beginning effects – relaxation, calmness etc.) so therefore give us no reason to continue drinking. I began taking the medication while still in treatment and continued after I came home. The hopes is that a person who is sober, if they should perhaps relapse, would not continue to drink because they do not get the physical sensations and effects from the alcohol from the first few drinks. I can attest…this does work. I drank 4 beers, and felt nothing…not good or bad. I didn’t get the physical relief I did from drinking prior, so I quit. I also thought twice about drinking again because I knew it wasn’t going to give me what I wanted.

    This medication is not meant for long term, and I only took it for 6 months. But I can tell you this. It allowed me some needed support during my early sobriety, while I explored the other things I needed in my life to help me stay sober.

    Not a magic pill, and it didn’t let me drink like a normal person – but it did help me in that critical time in early sobriety. I highly recommend it!

  12. hi, thanks. best wishes from Germany. we are waiting of Selincro / Nalmefen.

    • Good luck!

      i’m not really interested in these drugs because of all the extra benefits i’ve received in recovery. My life has improved globally through sobriety, and not just in alcohol related areas. i’d be afraid that even if i could drink like a normal person, i’d lose all insights i’ve received that make living my life easier and more pleasurable every day.

      But that’s just me! i wish you the best in your search.

      Al K Hall

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