Is alcoholism the mother of all addictions?

Here we offer a brief history of post modern American addictions, starting with alcoholic drinking. What’s your opinion on the historical root of our modern social health problem. Is alcoholism the mother of all addictions?

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The beginnings of alcoholism

No one knows when alcohol was first used, but it was assumed to be an accident that developed at least tens of thousands of years ago. At that time, alcohol was used for pleasure, nutrition, medicine, religious rituals, and even stored in the tombs of the deceased for their afterlife. But even for the ancients, alcohol use could turn into abuse.

How were tobacco and drugs introduced to Europeans?

European explorers of the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries were open to the pleasure and products of the new worlds. Beginning with Columbus, the traders and conquerors brought back to Europe the tobacco that was introduced to them by the American Indians. In 1634, a Russian Czar pronounced a penalty where offenders were sentenced to a slitting of the nostrils to combat the tobacco problem. Cocaine was also discovered in areas of South America during this time.

After the hypodermic needle and syringe were introduced in 1850, physicians hoped to use morphine injections to kill pain. They believed that by using a needle it would eliminate an addiction problem. We know today that using the needle is probably the quickest way to become addicted to drugs. In fact, my son died of cirrhosis of the liver and we found needles and drugs next to his bed. We were not aware that his condition had deteriorated so seriously.

The modern addiction problem

Modern addictions span both chemical and behavioral spectrums. And we can often replace one addiction with another. For example, when I recovered from one addiction, I immediately replaced it with another. After joining A.A. I learned how to stop the alcohol and prescription abuse. I worked the A.A. twelve steps and learned some of the reasons I was trying to escape from life. I eventually discovered that eating would take away the pain. Snacks were stashed on the top shelf of the kitchen cabinets, in my night stand, my car, and anywhere I might be in need of a comforting cookie. When I gained too much weight, I joined a weight-loss group. What I really had to do was find a way to change my coping mechanisms to coping skills, instead of switching addictions. But no one told me how!

Is alcoholism the mother of all addictions?

The one thing that all addictions have in common is a soul need and spiritual void that needs filling. Many people begin to use alcohol because of its easy to make, is socially acceptable and highly available. But is alcoholism the mother of all addictions? Well, does it really matter WHERE an addiction starts? Doesn’t it matter more simply that an addiction ENDS before it kills you? Your comments and feedback are invited below.

About the author
Marilyn Lancelot is a recovering alcoholic and compulsive gambler with twenty years of recovery. She has authored three books, Gripped by Gambling , Detour, and Switching Addictions. She also publishes a newsletter on-line, Women Helping Women for recovery from gambling. This newsletter has been published for more than 10 years and is read by women and men around the world.
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