Blog Entry

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment

Posted on: September 15, 2009 3:21 pm

I've received a lot of feedback about my Larry Eustachy column , almost all of it nice. But there is one quote from Eustachy with which some have taken issue, and it's the one where he said, "Would you laugh at somebody who is battling cancer? Because that's what it is. It's a disease. "

Some of you have decided it's crazy to compare alcoholism to cancer.

Others refuse to believe alcoholism is a disease at all.

That's your right, I guess. But it's worth noting that Eustachy expected this reaction, which is why he said he knew some would read the column and say, "That Eustachy is so full of sh-t. " In other words, you're not surprising Larry Eustachy; he's heard it all before. And though I see no point in debating whether alcoholism is as serious as cancer (or where it ranks in a group with MD and diabetes), I will say that anybody who doesn't believe alcoholism is a disease doesn't really understand alcoholism at all.

It is most definitely a gripping disease that destroys families and kills people everyday. And that it can, in some cases, be brought on by poor decisions or a lack of self-control shouldn't matter much, because a first cigarette can be what leads to lung cancer just like one night of unprotected sex can be what leads to HIV just like daily trips to the local hamburger joint can be what leads to a heart attack, but we don't laugh at people with lung cancer or HIV, and we don't mock heart attacks, do we? And really, that was Eustachy's point, that though a person's role in his fight with alcoholism cannot always be excused, there is no debating that alcoholism is a serious disease just like cancer is a serious disease.

Hopefully, that makes some sense to you.

But if you're still not convinced, I'll direct you to an email I got from a reader this morning, an email from a man who has battled both cancer and addiction. In part, it read: "As someone who has recovered -- so far -- from a bout with cancer, and has been clean and sober from a cocaine addiction for 26 1/2 years, I know the parallels are there, and that alcoholism is indeed a most deadly, and misunderstood disease. "

So if you don't want to believe Larry Eustachy, don't believe Larry Eustachy.

And if you don't want to believe me, don't believe me.

But that email came from a man who understands both cancer and addiction better than you probably understand cancer and addiction, and I'm not sure how anybody who has never experienced either could possibly argue with him.

Since: Sep 17, 2009
Posted on: September 17, 2009 8:08 am

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment

Addiction is a result of a certain neurotransmitter function.  It has nothing to do with "habit" or "behavior." like biting fingernails or listening to idiots on lip-flapper radio.  And no, it isn't contagious -- it's genetic.

If the addiction interferes with your life, then you have to take drastic steps to deprive your body of that neurotransmitter trigger, but the need for it does not "fade away."

August, you have no clue what you are talking about, and if you are as ignorant on other subjects as you are on this one, then it would be best for you to just keep your mouth shut and your fingers off your keyboard.

As for "stop doing the activity," here's one for you to try:  Stop eating meat.  Period.  Now cows, no pigs, no chickens, no fish.  Period.

The human body does not need meat, nor even particularly crave it.  We are not cats, with the burst metabolism that requires such a protein load.  It has been repeatedly proven that humans, even athletes, can get all the protein we need from plants such as beans.

If you catch a cold so easily, and take so long to get over it, then you are clearly not very healthy.  Try your own advice.  Cut out meat entirely.  Cut out refined sugar entirely -- you get enough of it in processed foods.  Cut out salt entirely, ditto.

Get back to us in a month about how well that "stop doing the activity" is working for you.

Since: Sep 27, 2007
Posted on: September 16, 2009 7:43 pm

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment

It utterly amazes me that people comment on issues of which they have no understanding.
You are entitled to your opinion, but you have no clue about the topic at hand. I would suggest you read a little about basic addiction before yuou come onto a national website and start spouting your beliefs. If you think that all an addict has to do to beat addiction is stop then I feel bad for you and I hope you or someone close to you ever has to deal with it.

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: September 16, 2009 2:49 pm

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment


Your comments are spot on,,,We hit it from two different angles!

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: September 16, 2009 2:46 pm

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment


Do you drink coffee, or a lot of caffeinated beverages, or smoke cigarettes? If you do, have you ever tried to stop??? Are you over-weight and tried to go on a diet???

We all have weaknesses of one kind of another, but many people want to do just what you have done, seperate some of them out and by doing so, either on purpose, or without any intent to do so, create a 'stigma' against particular 'weaknesses' of a bodily system.

I'm sure you've probably heard the statement, that if it tastes good, it's probably bad for you? There is some truth to that statement, many of the things we add to things we eat and drink aren't good for us. Cholesterol is in part avoidable, and in part it is not, because it is created by things we eat, but a body's malfunction due to cholesterol can also be due to inherited traits, at least many scientists believe that it can. The same is true for alcoholism.

Cholesterol is a really good comparison to alcohol. For most people, neither creates a major difficulty. The problem is that with either one, by the time it has become a noticable difficulty  for the system (for those that are susceptible), it is very hard to correct. 

Should there be some 'stigma' attached to eating foods which may create cholesterol? Should we all stop eating anything that might create cholesterol???

I once dated a woman who had a major intolerance to alcohol. She wasn't addicted, but rather allergic. I have another friend who was having gastric difficulties that she finally determined was caused by an allergy to peanut butter. When we find that our systems have an intolerance to anything, most people try to then avoid it. The difficulty is in first identifying that there is a difficulty. If something is an addicting substance, often the addiction has kicked in before the person can rationally seperate themselves from the craving for the item.

If anyone knew that they would become an alcoholic, then most would probably avoid alcohol. Many people who have a family history of alcohol do avoid it.

Since: Sep 12, 2006
Posted on: September 16, 2009 2:46 pm

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment

As opposed to most forms of cancer, the flu, the common cold, diabetes, and other NON-BEHAVIORAL diseases. 
I would actually argue that your actions/behaviours can lead to any and all of these diseases, so I don't think they can officially qualify as just non-behavioural diseases. People all around me get the flu/common cold every single year, but because I take care of myself I rarely ever get sick (and no I don't get the flu shot or anything like that). Same with cancer and diabetes, part of these is the result of genetics, which for the record can also lead to a higher chance of addiction to something, but an unhealthy lifestyle significantly increases the likelihood of developing cancer or diabetes.

I'm not saying it's easy to stop the activity that causes and feeds the addiction.  But the addiction fades away when the activity stops.
This statement is a load of crap. If you're actually addicted at one point in your life, especially to something like alcohol or drugs, you're addicted for life. When the body craves something so significantly to the point where you develop an addiction, it doesn't matter how long you've been sober, you are all but guaranteed to fall off track the first time you try whatever it is again. To me this statement confirms that you do not understand how serious addiction issues are.

Since: Mar 22, 2007
Posted on: September 16, 2009 1:02 pm

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment

Ok, fine, let's call alcoholism what it is--a BEHAVIORAL disease.  As opposed to most forms of cancer, the flu, the common cold, diabetes, and other NON-BEHAVIORAL diseases.  But let's face one distinction between addictions and diseases.  An addiction can be stopped by discontinuing the action that brings on the addiction.  Are you addicted to alcohol (which makes you an alcoholic)?  Stop drinking!  Are you addicted to cocaine, marijuana, crack, meth, etc (which makes you a drug addict)? Stop taking the drug!  Are you addicted to ice cream, candy bars, tacos, soda pop, knuckle cracking, the internet, TV, talk radio, etc, etc, etc?  STOP DOING THE ACTIVITY THAT CAUSES AND FEEDS THE ADDICTION!  I'm not saying it's easy to stop the activity that causes and feeds the addiction.  But the addiction fades away when the activity stops.  You must have the desire to stop feeding the addiction.  As for the common cold, I can take actions to try to avoid the cold but unless everyone takes the same action, if the cold is running through my community, I'm probably going to catch it for 7-10 days.  I catch it by hanging around someone with a cold.  I don't catch alcoholism by simply hanging around with an alcoholic.

Now, I don't make fun of alcholics; I think they're people in sad situations.  But it was their behavior that got in their situation, not just a random interaction with germs, like the common cold.  Let's be sure we make the distinction between BEHAVIORAL diseases (like alcoholism, which is 100% preventable) and NON-BEHAVIORAL diseases--true diseases that may or may not be preventable.

Since: Jan 17, 2008
Posted on: September 15, 2009 7:17 pm

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment


You put forth a shockingly well spoken summary of why modern medicine deems Alcoholism a disease, and why the stigma society associates with it must melt away for many addicts to confront their addictions directly and openly. 

Well done.

Since: Mar 21, 2008
Posted on: September 15, 2009 6:50 pm

Thoughts on Eustachy's alcoholism/cancer comment

Hey Gary,

I know you don't probably don't really give a big flip what I think (and that's really ok!), but I think this follow-up rates 5 gold stars!!!

I'll go ahead and guess that Paul Harvey and all of your journalism teachers/professors would (have) probably give(n) you a thumbs up for it too!

People who never smoke cig's get lung cancer too....

Some people's systems just go hay-wire over many different things they put in or do to 'em...

Some people get addicted to food or to doing weird things with it, for example: anorexia, bulemia, etc.

And then there are some people who want everything to be related to a person's actions. "Duh, you drink what do you expect???" They don't want to think about it any more than that. Winston Churchill drank quite a lot and smoked on his cigars, yes he did have a heart attack in there, but he never became 'addicted' (at least that I know of) or get cancer, which he could easily have done. He lived to be 94. Then there are other's like Heath Ledger who's system just can't handle that little bit more that was put in, which another body just might have been able to handle....

The human body is an amazing thing, and yet some aren't wired just right, and all kinds of things happen and can go badly wrong. A little concern, compassion, and sympathy would be nice, and working toward understanding would be good too.

Yes, it is too bad, some of the decisions we all make, and often we would like to take them back, unfortunately for most, they/we don't get a mulligan in life. Be careful what you put others down for, because you might not always be in control of your destiny.

I have an unexplained hearing loss, which has gotten worse over time, I don't know of anything that I did that caused it. It just seems to be a vagary of nature. The doctors say, we don't know why, its just gone.

So, I say educate yourself, and don't judge others too harshly for their 'shortcomings'....The shoe may be on the other foot in your future!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or