I-S-M in Alcoholism

Alcohol is only a symptom of the disease alcoholism. You can take the alcohol out of alcoholism but what is left is the “ism” part of this disease. The ism is why we drank, the ism is what drove us to bad neighborhoods in our mind, who drove our bus. The ism will quickly get you drunk again if not addressed in recovery. The disease—the ‘ism’ of alcoholism—involves more than the act of drinking. The ism is what the successful recovering alcoholic addresses daily in their reprieve from alcohol in their journey of sobriety.

What is this ism part of alcoholism? Good acronyms for ism are : I, Self, Me or I Sponsor Myself or Internal Spiritual Malady, or Incredibly Short Memory or InSide Me or I Sabotage Myself. In short the “ism” is all about the alcoholic and how they cope with the many things encountered in life. This ism is one of self-centeredness taken to the extreme. The ism involves more than the act of drinking. Feelings of inadequacy, isolation, restlessness, anxiety, depression, fear and guilt are just a few of the “isms” that the alcoholic wrestles with daily. Other isms rears its ugly head showing over-reaction or just reacting, blaming others and defending yourself from perceived threats and fears. All of these feelings are internalized and exposed in twisted forms of alcoholic reality to friends and family and treated with alcohol by the alcoholic still suffering from the disease of alcoholism.

No matter what when you take away the alcohol, you still have the traits and characteristics that go with it. The ism is why we drank. The ism has to be addressed. We need a whole new way of life.

Most alcoholics, for whatever reason, can’t seem to cope with the bumpy road of life without drinking considerable amounts of alcohol. This inability to cope with life without alcohol is the “ism” part. Generally, most alcoholics are egotistical and self-centered people. Some are immature, at least for their age. Basically, they use alcohol, which is a drug, to “self-medicate” (self-manufacture their own coping mechanism) from their pains of life.

To stop drinking is never easy, but if an alcoholic is going to stop for good and lead a relatively “normal” life, they need to realize it is process of changing the way they deal with life and all its problems. It is actually more difficult to heal the “ism” side of the alcoholism problem, but one that must be done successfully if the alcoholic is going to live a good, alcohol-free existence.

Alcoholism is composed of two word elements.

Alcohol – the substance which alcoholics use. And ism the underlying motives or needs which can be addressed in recovery. AND

The Ism’s – These ism’s are part of normal life, everyone has them to varying degrees. Specifically, the ism’s are an attempt to make life bearable, as a way of “interpersonal control and coping.” This is, of course, what we all strive to do on a day-to-day basis, we need these thinking patterns and behaviours to cope, most people seem to be doing alright, while the alcoholic seems to be sinking fast.

One of the main ism’s with alcoholism is the ism of fear.


Recovery is mostly about letting go of fear. In fact, fear produces most all my insane moments. Any time I need a reality check, I try to stop and ask myself if there is a fear at the root of what I’m doing.

These are the fear demons I’ve identified in myself – so far.

Fear of… failure, Fear of loneliness, Fear of intimacy (In to me I see), Fear of risk, Fear of pain, Fear of abandonment, Fear of rejection, Fear of looking/sounding stupid, Fear of what someone might think, Fear of punishment, Fear of poverty, Fear of exploitation, Fear of missing the big chance, Fear of fear, Fear of ….letting go of fear.

With self-awareness of my isms and fears I can now know when I am acting or even thinking from fear.

If I know when I’m acting from fear, or about to act from fear, then I can usually let go of the fear and remain in the calm center. For me, recovery works when this “check-up” is my first response to a fear producing situation.

If the fear overwhelms me, or I miss the cue and act out of fear, my life gets unmanageable.

Published by Nathan Findlay

Avid Blogger, I have a dream to help others. Addiction is the direct result of Trauma and Recovery is possible.

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