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Is Alcoholism a Disease?

April 03, 1988

I am the busy mother of three children and I really don't have time to be writing letters to the editor. However, in this case I'm making an exception because I can't stand it ("Alcoholism: Is It Really a Disease?" by Beverly Beyette, March 23).

Herbert Fingarette is a disgrace to his profession and should be run out of town on a rail. I wonder what this "mild-mannered philosophy professor" hopes to accomplish by telling anyone that "chronic heavy drinkers" can "often" modify their behavior and take only a few drinks. I also wonder how many not-yet-recovering "chronic heavy drinkers" will see this article and use it to further rationalize their drinking while inflicting more pain and suffering on their families and causing more deaths on our highways.

My family has been blessed with several "chronic heavy drinkers." I saw the life of my uncle cut short violently by "chronic heavy drinking" and I see the pain and misery and guilt his family still suffers many years later. There was more misery in the wasted life of an alcoholic aunt.

And, I have an alcoholic husband. He is a wonderful man, sensitive, caring and strong. But he is a "chronic heavy drinker" and until Alcoholics Anonymous came into our lives our three small children and I suffered the worry and pain that all families of alcoholics endure. We are healing, but it is a slow process. I know that it only takes one or two drinks to put my husband into his alcoholic "mode" where his behavior and attitude change and he becomes someone I fear and wish I didn't know. I also have an alcoholic sibling who is in denial, and knowing that he will see this article and use it to fuel his drinking behavior makes me furious!

I don't believe one alcoholic family gives a hoot whether their person is called a chronic heavy drinker or an alcoholic, or whether alcoholism is defined as a behavior, a symptom, a condition or a disease, as long as they get help.

I suggest that Prof. Fingarette examine his own motives. (How many talk shows did you say he has been on?) I assume he will be selling his book. Fingarette should attend some AA meetings and hear what the alcoholics have to say about themselves.


La Palma

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