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Is Alcohol Addiction Physical or Mental?

The key that unlocked the mystery of addiction wide open for me was awareness. Back when I was drinking myself into insanity, I had no concept of why I was doing of the things I was doing – I was in pure and constant reaction. Getting those evening cravings? Drink. Being bored out of my skull? Drink. Feeling like I am useless and have an overwhelming urge for destructive behavior? You better believe drink.

I had no concept of addiction at all. I understood that people could get addicted to things but in terms of what it “looks” or “feels” like, I had no clue. I was suffering withdrawal symptoms and it didn’t even cross my mind to connect the two things. I was completely oblivious to the cause and effect of drinking and anxiety. Since I had no idea these things were all connected, I kept feeling worse and drinking more to feel better.

Once I started learning more about addiction I started to understand how all of these things related to each other. I discovered what the withdrawal symptoms were and was able to recognize them. I knew that the more I drank that night the more anxiety I would get the day after. Once I was aware of the process I could start to see the way to to end it.

Is Alcohol Addiction Physical or Mental?

View: Alcoholism is a strictly physical ailment

Alcoholism is hereditary, it was passed on from my father to me. Alcoholism is a disease. After you have gone through detox, you are no longer affected by alcohol.  

False. There is no solid evidence showing that any “alcoholism gene” exists or that alcoholism is an incurable disease. After detox the reason that most people relapse is they have deep mental beliefs that alcohol will solve their problems or add a lot of pleasure to their lives.

View: So then, alcoholism a mental affliction?

Alcoholism is all in your head. You need more willpower to resist urges and get past them. If you can tell yourself to just have a few – you will no longer have a problem. 

False. Drinking heavily for long periods of time affects your body and brain chemistry, When you try to stop you will have physical withdrawals that will cause extreme cravings and anxiety. If you are unaware or unprepared for physical withdrawal it can be very hard to get past.

So then, which is it?!

Depending on where you are in the stages it can be in both. Drinking will start for mental or emotional reasons and then after continued use a physical dependency will form. Now when you look at it this way you might notice there is a third invisible part of this equation: environment. Both your physical environment (the people you hang out with, your job, your hobbies) as well as mental environment (pre-existing depression, anxiety, anger.)

Since alcohol addiction affects three possible areas, effectively breaking alcohol addiction is a three step process:

If you are drinking heavily, every day, you have probably developed a physical addiction to alcohol. Your body and brain have adapted to the levels of alcohol normally in your body and when it starts to leave your system you get withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms cause intense cravings so you can replenish the supply of alcohol.

Once the physical addiction is gone the sinister mental and emotional structure that are in still in place are what keep bringing people back to drinking. To be completely free of alcohol forever we must be able to knock down these structures – both conscious and subconscious reasons why we believe alcohol adds pleasure to our lives and makes it better. Once we can not only see but truly believe that alcohol adds nothing of real value to us we can break free of the chains.


This last step is the most important for long term sobriety and is often the most overlooked. If we don’t replace our old lifestyle with a new one, when things go bad (and they will) we will not know what else to do and resort to old patterns. With that in mind, I want to make it very clear: we are not “recovering”…


We are not trying to change or improve our old lives – NO! We are completely demolishing them and building a new life from the foundations. We all have the ability to create a blueprint for a new life and can start building it now! You may have tried to quit before in the past unsuccessfully but THIS IS BECAUSE THE OLD METHOD OF GETTING SOBER JUST DOESN’T WORK!



If want to read more about a technique I use to detect potential relapses before they happen (saving me a lot of anxiety BEFORE it happens) enter your info below to get it for free!

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