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Diagnosing an Alcoholic or Addict

By: Rhea Rosier, Palm Partners Recovery Center

January 20th, 2012

Diagnosing an alcoholic or addict is simple if you look at their history of drug use and drinking. Most addicts and alcoholics know they are addicted to alcohol or drugs long before they even admit they are. I read in the Big Book of AA this description that explained the difference between alcoholics and non-alcoholics. They said that “Non-alcoholics change their behavior to meet their goals, and alcoholics change their goals to meet their behavior.” This I have found to be undeniably true. The diagnosis of an alcoholic or addict can come simply from looking at whether or not they continued to use despite the negative consequences such as failing to achieve goals or things they expected of themselves. For example I started using pot and alcohol at a young age and had goals of playing soccer in college. Because of my using I stopped playing soccer all together.

When diagnosing an alcoholic or addict many people realize the mental and physical signs of alcoholism or addiction, but there are what some people and programs describe as the “spiritual signs” which are better known as the spiritual malady. Many people who are not alcoholics or addicts may not quite understand this and may even think that spiritual malady comes after the use of drugs and alcohol. Diagnosing an alcoholic and addict is realizing that the spiritual malady was there long before a drink or drug was even touched.

Diagnosing an alcoholic or addict comes from the realization that the using was not the problem but the solution. Once an alcoholic or addict is diagnosed they can begin to see that they were using for reasons that can’t really explain. This is where talking to another addict or alcoholic that has recovered can come in handy. An addict or alcoholic who doesn’t realize that drugs and alcohol were their solution can find relatable experiences in another addict or alcoholic while talking to them. This simple conversation between to alcoholics or addicts, can help them find the answer, which was, they were using to make their “spiritual malady” go away. The drug and drink were our solution to a spiritual malady or problem. Once addicts and alcoholics realize this most of them can start to recover. Diagnosing an alcoholic or addict with the spiritual malady allows that person to focus on what the problem truly is and begin to fix it that way they don’t want or even need to pick up the drugs and alcohol.

The disease of alcoholism and addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful. Knowing exactly what you are up against and what your problem is the first step in diagnosing an alcoholic and addict. Once this is taken care of recovery can start to truly begin. Going to the root cause will stop the entire cycle of use and drinking all together. This I know to be true because I am recovered alcoholic and addict.


If you or someone you know needs help and is an addict or alcoholic please don’t hesitate to call: 1-877-711-HOPE(4673) or go to




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