How fair is it to compare alcoholism to diabetes?


How many of us dared to do such comparison? A comparison of two diseases where one is treated with general sympathy by the majority of people in our society and is given much support while the other is treated with anger and hate.

In reality both alcoholism and diabetes are caused by a certain deficieny in the human body. For diabetes it is the inability of controling blood sugar level, and for alcoholism it is the inability of controlling anxiety. One is a body deficient and the other is a brain one.

Both diseases don’t have a real cure and require a certain diet from the patient. For diabetes, it is to minimize their intake of sugar, while for alcoholics it is staying away of alcohol.

Unfortunatly the solution is not as simple as it sounds. There is a catch for both diseases. For diabetes, sugar is a fuel, it is required for the cells of the body to keep on performing, and thus cutting out sugar is not an option. The solution here is to provide diabetes people with insulin injections which is the hormone that controls sugar levels in blood (the hormone that the shortage of causes diabetes in the first place).

In the same matter, the catch of alcoholism, is that alcohol does help subtitute the missing protein that is responsible of controlling anxiety. For alcoholics, alcohol is curing and damaging at the same time. For instance it helps lowering their anxiety level, while in the other hand causing damage to most of the other body organs.

The problem here is that unlike diabetes where proper medication is out their in terms of insulin. Alcoholism medication is still new, and while it is getting more support in the west, I guess it needs some time to catch up here.

It is sad to see two patients treated in different ways, and all is based on ignorance. Brain functionality has only been explored recently and Alcoholism has been considered to be a bad habit of immoral people for ages based on our lack of information. Maybe it is time to re-assess our mistake and provide more support to our patients.

26 thoughts on “How fair is it to compare alcoholism to diabetes?

  1. I beg to differ here in that comparison. first of all diabetes is pure physiological. alcoholism isn’t. Second of all alcoholism is more of social and psychological issue rather than a biological ones. so while there maybe some genes that contribute to the deficiency in dopamine creation, alcohol is not the only dopamine inducing substance which is not the case for insulin. Alcoholism can’t be treated by drugs or a change of diet ( i presume you are talking about type 2, but referring to type 1 since type 1 can’t be treated by a diet change) It requires a change of your mental state. as for addictiveness, its not the most addictive substance (psychological prescription drugs are), and the physiological dependence of alcohol is not as severe as that of other drugs. and it surely is harder to quit cigarettes than to quite alcohol and thats a fact😀so following that chain of thought would you compare smoking to diabetes since it can be inferred that way ? ENJOY!

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  2. no_angel, I was waiting for your comment🙂 hehhe. Where did you get your fact that it is harder to quit cigarettes than alcohol? Maybe that is right for non-alcoholic people, but addiction to alcohol is not as easy as you made it sound. Beside there is a different between a bad habit and addicition. Some people do abuse alcohol as it became a habit for them, but we shouldn’t confuse them with addicts. Isn’t the brain part of the physiology of human being? We are talking about chemicals here. Chemicals that their shortage is caused by the lack of a certain gene and in which cause much anxiety to a human being. Have you gone through such anxiety? and have you imagined what that might cause for a person when he finds comfort in alcohol?Sure there might be other substances that raise dopamine, and maybe some of them can be developed to become a good drugs for alcoholics to help them cope with their disease. Is there any gene related to smoking addiction? if yes, I may look into the comparison. How much smoking differ from a person to person, as of being a bad habit to some vs an addiction to others?

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  3. The difference is simple in terms of causes: You don’t choose to be diabetic, but you choose to be alcoholic. Any try to go beyond that is simply wrong. That being said, it doesn’t mean that alcoholism should be treated with less enthusiasm. And for the most part, alcoholics become what they are to escape reality. So the comparison is not valid at all.

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  4. Mohannad, you obviously havent read my post! You dont choose to have this lack of gene that causes anxiety the same way you dont choose to have a deficiency in your pancreas!!! Alcohol is just like Sugar in this termenology.

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  5. No I read it, your point was obvious in you last statment. You are comparing diabetics to alcoholics and want them to be treated equally! I would say no, you treat the ones that had no choice first.

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  6. alcoholism is definitely associated with a genetic disorder, but so is a lot of personality disorder and pshychological diseases that lead their victims into committing crimes. Pedophilia might be associated with a genetic disorder (I don’t know that but it possibly is), but that doesn’t mean we should leave pedophiles unpunsihed. On other occasions, people have little control on whom they become. A child who’s been beaten up everyday of his childhood is very likely to become a child absuer himself when he grows up, or at least a very abnormal person, but should we leave hold him unaccountable for whatever crime he commits as an adult because he was abused as a child?I think alcoholics need some attention in Jordan. Their numbers are underestimated; people think that a definition of an alcoholic is someone who is drunk 24/7 and that is very untrue. However they should be held accountable for any action they do under the influence of the drug they’re abusing.

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  7. mohannad, both have no real choice. That is what I was trying to explain in my post.Hareega, I understand your point about crimes, maybe that is why jails are in fact a rehabilitation centers rather than a punishing ones. That should be applied on all. But then again diabetes can cause a crime as well. For instance one easting too much sugar then driving, and suddenly fall down unconscious causing a serious accident. How that would be different than an accident caused by someone driving under the infleuence of alcohol? Driving not in full state of mind should not be allowed. Such laws should be applicable on all. I am not defending here Alcohol dependency, but I am asking people to give more sympathy and support to those people who are suffering because of some genetic deficency rather than a moral corruption as all might think of!We have discussed pedophility before and the matter of consent minors and their right to have sex. (Check DM blog last post), but if anyone forces anyone else on sex, then that should be a crime. A crime where the abuser should go into REHAB and treated so that not to make it again.I agree that we are not aware of the number of alcoholics in Jordan.

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  8. bambam says:

    observer the main difference here is that one requires neglect to be harmful (diabetes) and even then its easily rectified, while on the other hand alcoholism requires premeditation. their is no genetic deficiency that makes a person go buy and drink alcohol… sympathy is due, but your giving it for the wrong reasons there. I am not saying that recovering from alcoholism is easy, just saying that its easier than quiting a lot of other things. like any other addiction the main burden is psychological and that is a cure. not attaining the cure is the shortcoming of the person when it affects their daily lives unlike the diabetics. as for the genes (and they are more than one related to alcoholism) they only affect the user after he became exposed to alcoholism rather than making him become an alcoholic. it is his actions that lead to it and not that his genetic make up that causes him to be an alcoholic. btw the majority of diabetics are not caused primarily by genetics(type 2). that leaves no comparison grounds between the two at all. settled ? addictiveness of cigarettes, alcohol and other drugs. quiting cigarettes. is not easy at all compared to anything for that matter and any regular smoker (i.e. me) is an addict there is no argument to that. < HREF="http://www.chemsoc.org/chembytes/ezine/images/1998/gaskell_fags-k.jpg" REL="nofollow">reference 1<> < HREF="http://www.safercolorado.org/images/clip_image003.gif" REL="nofollow">reference 2<><>Isn’t the brain part of the physiology of human being?<> no not when it comes to alcohol since there is no synaptic receptor that specifically caters to alcoholic substances, while for instance there are canniboid and nicotinic receptors.<>Have you gone through such anxiety? and have you imagined what that might cause for a person when he finds comfort in alcohol?<> Yes, lets not go there. <>substances that raise dopamine<> eat chocolate, have sex … there are a million of other simple things. <>Is there any gene related to smoking addiction? if yes, I may look into the comparison. How much smoking differ from a person to person, as of being a bad habit to some vs an addiction to others?<>yes there is a gene that controls the higher susceptibility to nicotine addiction, and like i said every regular smoker is an addict. its not a habitual thing if its not a habit.

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  9. Bambam, actually no it is not settled🙂. The genes related alcoholism doesnt only affect the person after getting exposed to alcohol. It affects him much earlier in his life with the anxiety level he has to endure. Alcohol becomes as a heaven for those with high anxiety level, and it comfort those people like they have never felt before. Imagine you have this continuous pain in your hand that you are suffering from all of your life, and suddenly you find this magical drug that makes it disappear, without realizing how addictive it is (as a lot of people around you take it with no real consequences), you start using it, and once you do, you can’t stop it because when you do that your suffering becomes even worse than before. This is really what happens to an alcoholic, and here lies the genetic deficiency I am talking about. Diabetes is the same in way. Some people do have a deficency in a certain gene. For some it might not be that severe, and thus their behaviour affect their diabetes, like for instance eating too much sugar (the same way an alcoholic consumes alcohol altough sugar is not as addictive as alcohol). I know a person who used to eat a lot of sugar. His family used to wanr him because they have this gene of diabetes running in the family. When he got diabetes, he has to take some medication, but then he started paying attention to what he eats and playing sport. In few months he stopped medications and diabetes gone. See? this guy diabetes is not severe, and while it is not easy to change a life style and eating habit, quitting an addiction is much harder. Now for nicotine being more addictive than alcohol as you provide in the link, then I accept that, but it doesn’t mean that it is harder to quit. It just means that it is easier to get hooked at it. But getting addicted to it is not flat for everyone as you said of every regular smoker is an addict. I disagree with that. As you said, there might be some genes related to nicotine addiction, and thus those people who are unfortunate with such genes, are more prone to get addicted to smoking, others might smoke as much as they want and never get addicted. We should make a distinction between a bad habit and addiction. I, for instance, used to smoke argeeleh everyday for almost 10 years, and when I decided to quit, it took me around 2 years to do so. It was hard to quit that habit, but I never been addicted to smoking because I never really craved it. It was just a habit for me. As for psychology vs physiology, we dont really have seperate minds and bodies. Biology and behaviour are interwined. A certain chance in body chemicals is reflected in a certain behaviour. Addiction is a complusory behaviour. The bottom line it. Alcohol addiction is a brain disease while Diabete is a body one. We should give sympathy to both.

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  10. whatever says:

    Wow, much confusion here, i will try to dot some i’s and cross some Ts.Some definitions:Tolerance:Addiction: A chronic relapsing condition characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and abuse and by long-lasting chemical changes in the brain. Continued use of the addictive substance induces adaptive changes in the brain that lead to tolerance, physical dependence, uncontrollable craving and, all too often, relapse.Tolerance:he capacity of the body to endure or become less responsive to a substance (as a drug) or a physiological insult especially with repeated use or exposure.Dopamine levels as far as i know cannot be increased by sex or chocolate, that would be serotonin, the happy neurotransmitter. I would like to read your citation on dopamine and sex/chocolate, if i am wrong.A substance does not have to have a receptor in the brain to be physiologically active. Alcohol modifies the permeability of the membrane of the neural cells and is thus pharmacologically and physiologically active. Observer on the other hand. The real question, which the study you cited did not answer, is how many of the people who have the gene are addicts? Having the gene would make you more susceptible, but not necessarily an addict, that is still a decision one makes. On the other hand, you have to make the distinction between the two types of diabetes. Some people claim we should have no sympathy towards type 2 diabetics as their disease is a result of their bad eating habits, being over-weight, and the lack of exercise. I disagree, but you can see where i am going here.alcoholics are patients, they more often than not relapse after being sober for even extended periods of time, and this is the way medical societies aim or try to aim for them. At the end of the day it is a maladaptive behavior, a lot of people go through serious anxiety periods but do not end up being alcoholic. The way society looks at them however can be explained by that they become, largely due to their own deeds, unproductive members in the society. They stop supporting their families, many start abusing those they are supposed to be caring for, mentally, psychologically and even physically. I tried not to express my views here, but i think what i said needed to be said.

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  11. <>he genes related alcoholism doesnt only affect the person after getting exposed to alcohol. It affects him much earlier in his life with the anxiety level he has to endure.<>correlation doesn’t imply causation, and in this case alcohol interacts with a multitude of receptors. so the genes don’t make him gravitate towards alcohol, rather he makes the choice to abuse alcohol. since a choice is involved, he must shoulder the consequences. which is unlike diabetics. the influence of genes on alcoholism never reaches the tipping point to be a prime factor, it just contributes so it doesn’t warrant consideration in the bigger picture of alcoholism. Also the withdrawal you are talking about occurs with everyone rather than being specific to alcoholics that have those genes … <>“Most of the modern theories about the heritability of alcoholism recognize that no matter what their genetic makeup, people must drink a lot for a long time to become alcoholics. In this sense genetic research in alcoholism actually contradicts stories commonly told at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and popular treatment myths about people who become alcoholic with their first drink.”<><>Addiction is a complusory behaviour. <> nope, addiction is always a choice and no choice is compulsory, and like i said earlier i would be more sympathetic to a diabetic since he never had a choice while an alcoholic made that choice.

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  12. <>@whatever<> regarding dopamine sex and chocolate. <>“The stimuli from a receptive female and/or copulation itself leads to the release of dopamine (DA)”<>< HREF="http://www.biopsychiatry.com/ssrissex.htm" REL="nofollow">reference sex<><>“Researchers believe phenylethylamine causes the brain to release mesolimbic dopamine in the pleasure centers of the brain, which peaks during an orgasm.”<> though i admit that the dopamine correlation is not strictly chemical and is more psychological but the link is there.< HREF="http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/bb/neuro/neuro01/web2/Slaughter.html" REL="nofollow">reference choco<><>A substance does not have to have a receptor in the brain to be physiologically active<>I never suggested that, but my mentioned of specialized receptors rather than a multitude of receptors as is the case with alcohol is that the correlation between genetics and the functioning of that receptor would be higher in that case since it’s a lower number of defective genes that might cause the dysfunction with little to no alternatives for the substance to interact with. Thanks for asking me to clarify myself, but i missed the reason for ur definition of addiction and tolerance <>Every smoker is an addict.Period.<> YES agree full heartedly

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  13. Whatever, ‘many of the people who have the gene are addicts?’That is a good question that I would love to find an answer to. Most probably it would be not all, but as you said those with the gene are more susceptible, and are much easier to get additcted than those who don’t have it.But that doesnt make it a choice. No one choose to be an addict. How fair is it if you and me started drinking the same amount of alcohol, and you turn into an addict because you have the gene while I dont because I dont have it? Does that make me a better person? Does that make my well stronger than yours? Does that make me wise for making the right choice and you are not? You are right about diabetes, but a patient is a patient, and even if someone abused his body in anyway because of any certain reason causing himself a disease, sympathy is due here because he would still be a patient and need our help. Yes, what you said needed to be said thank you🙂.

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  14. Whatever, no_angel, ‘Medical fact: Every smoker is an addict’As I said, I smoked for 10 years and then I cut it off. I never really craved it and thus never been an addict. I can even smoke today and not do it the next 3 months! It was just a habit for me. Does that disproves that medical fact? or we are talking here about a different definition of addiction? explain please!

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  15. no_angel, ‘so the genes don’t make him gravitate towards alcohol, rather he makes the choice to abuse alcohol’In crimes law judgement, if someone is in a defensive position and made a crime, he might even gets aways of his actions. The same way here. Those with the gene are in a defensive position. They are not to be judged like those who don’t. And no one make the choice of abuse. If addicts have another choice, they wouldn’t do this to their bodies. ‘Addiction is a complusory behaviour. nope’**’Because changes in brain structure and function are fundamental to the development and expression of addiction, it qualifies as a brain disease–a brain disease expressed as compulsive behavior.’copied from here:http://www.apa.org/monitor/jun01/sp.html

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  16. <>And no one make the choice of abuse. If addicts have another choice, they wouldn’t do this to their bodies. <>Yes, everyone makes a choice to become addicted to something and loose self control when indulging in it whether it’s a legal or an illegal substance.and they are not in a defensive position because no one forced them to abuse alcohol since alcoholism requires a large amount over a long period. you can’t tell me someone doesn’t make a choice at some point to over indulge in this case. as for addiction it is a compulsive behavior after it has been established not before, you where implying that because of gene defect it a compulsive behavior before any substance abuse. along those lines you can’t call someone who doesn’t drink alcohol an alcoholic even if he has those genes. <>Does that disproves that medical fact? or we are talking here about a different definition of addiction? explain please!<>first step of recovery is to admit to an addiction. and by your admission it took you 2 years to fully quit which is a long time and proves that at some level you did crave it. now there is little to no research about argeelah in specific but i’ll go with my intuition to suggest why it might be less addictive than other tobacco smoking methods. the tolerance build up level for argheelah would be much lower than other methods because of the infrequency. Also argheela require a good amount of preparation and is not accessible as other method so the reinforcement and the possibility of relapse is much lower than other method. so that might be why you didn’t recognize it as an addiction. take note that i said regular smoker, habitual smoker would be someone who does it less than once a month

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  17. PH says:

    <>“How fair is it if you and me started drinking the same amount of alcohol, and you turn into an addict because you have the gene while I dont because I dont have it? Does that make me a better person? Does that make my well stronger than yours? Does that make me wise for making the right choice and you are not?”<>It’s as fair as comparing all the people who have never drank alcohol to the people who drink alcohol. The main premise of the paper that you present and your argument is that everybody drinks alcohol, which is the only way for them to become addicts. This is true in the west, but not so in the middle-east and even in the middle-east the consumption of alcohol is more widespread among countries that legally allow it, i.e., countries that submit to western influence, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria …. get the flow ?So, your whole argument is unfair completely out of context for the middle-east, and by the way drinking is immoral to Muslims because it is prohibited in our religion not because we are backward thinking, and those who become addicted had the moral choice not to ever drink alcohol in the first place, which should never be overlooked, right ?

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  18. PH, I compared two diseases, one in brain and the other one in the pancreas. I wont argue about the amount of wispread of alcohol in the Arab world. I just know that it is widlt wispread even in countries that prohibit it like saudi arabia. What I want to argue is the fairness in treating sins. Like for instance a person killing another person and getting away with it without any harm (if he didnt get catched by authorities) and one drinking some alcohol who gets addicted and suffering badly each day. Where is the fairness here? Does breaking alcohol rule in Islam entails this much suffering for some people? while no suffering at all for other muslims who break this rule the same way?Here we are talking about luck in punishing people based on their moral mistakes!

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  19. whatever says:

    No angel. thanks for the links, i appreciate it. I posted the definitions cause the word addiction was used out of context by observer. If you read the def. again you would see how insulin cannot be considered an addictive drug, but simply a drug. Observer. ahhh,,, 2ostak ossa, in a minute. PH: Alcohol is consumed in Jordan. In my social circle there is no one who does not drink. So the argument is very much relevant. Observer: The point being said over and over again here by no_angel, you cannot drink a few glasses every once in a while with friends and family and then wake up one morning craving alcohol and drinking your family’s income away. As no_angel said, it is a choice to over-indulge, one over drinks, and then over drinks again, then to get rid of the hang over drinks some more, then drinks and drinks and stays weeks without being sober. THIS IS A CHOICE! It is a bad choice, it is a mistaken choice, it is a choice with horrible consequences! They are patients, they need help, but you cannot compare them to diabetics man, esp. type 1, it is simply unfair.

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