Is Alcoholism a Disease? with Will Krause


My guest this week is Will Krause who is an author, entrepreneur and academic.  He helps addicts to quit using and then to go on and lead the life they were meant to live – he gives them hope

As you will hear, he is passionate about analysing why people do what they do as he believes this is the key to change.

Will also believes that we can actually use this key to unlock the life of our dreams.

 In this Episode

  • Will had an early tragic experience of addiction when his younger brother died
  • He was depressed and frustrated as he had no idea how he could have helped his brother
  • On reflection, Will decided that he was an addict himself – not to a substance but to perfectionism
  • Will did many courses but one day one of his professors came to him and explained that it was time he switched his focus from facts…to finding out WHY people did what they did
  • This advice along will his brother’s death was the catalyst to him studying addiction and discovering what addiction really is… and that it’s actually NOT what we’ve been taught it is!
  • He talked to us about the many homeless addicts in Seattle and pointed out that they all have exceptional skills that we cannot even comprehend – skills to survive and to score their drugs
  • Most of us would not last more than a couple of days if we had to live that kind of life
  • We talked about functioning alcoholics and how skilled we are at keeping the show on the road – holding down the high-powered job and managing a family
  • Whether it’s a homeless addict or a functioning alcoholic they can both redirect their skills and energy to leading a life that will give them purpose
  • As Will explains we need to give people HOPE – hope that there is a way out
  • We discussed the disease model which neither of us subscribes to
  • Yes, alcohol consumption does change the brain but according to neuroscience, our brains are meant to change!
  • Falling in love changes our brains as well!
  • The brain has simply learned a habit – a habit that can be replaced by a healthy habit
  • Will compared this with Alzheimer’s which IS a disease that takes away parts of the brain…
  • Cancer is also a disease… where cancerous cells take over and cause tumours
  • Will describes addiction as a “learned coping mechanism”
  • When we unlearn it and stop drinking we’ll go through a difficult period as we replace the harmful habit with new and healthy ones
  • In our experience here at Tribe Sober most people take between 3 and 6 months to get through this transition
  • We agreed on the importance of having a tribe even when we no longer drink… if we leave we can easily fall prey to our previous thought patterns and start wondering if we are able to have “just one drink now”
  • Spoiler alert – we probably can’t!
  • We do get quite a few returning members to our Tribe, people who’ve discovered that without the connection they flounder
  • Will talked about the importance of knowing WHY we do what we do
  • He helps addicts to understand Why they do what they do and also that they have an exceptional brain
  • Addicts are able to see the world differently
  • When addicts understand this, and realise that they can use their skills to turn their life around they begin to feel HOPE
  • Will feels that those of us who have struggled with dependency are the lucky ones – we can get through the pain of our addiction and find our purpose on the other side
  • Once we understand why we do what we do we can go on to discover our purpose
  • If we just stop drinking without understanding WHY we drank we won’t be able to find our purpose and we may go from one addiction to the other
  • As we often say at Tribe Sober there is so much more to recovery than “not drinking” – we have to create an alcohol-free life that we love, a life full of joy and purpose – a life we don’t want to escape from!
  • Will has a book coming out called “Unlearning Addiction”
  • The premise of his book is that addiction is a learned behaviour that we can unlearn – we can replace it with healthy habits which will lead to us discovering our purpose
  • The book explains why we do what we do – it gives the hope that people need, along with the tools to change
  • He kindly offered to share the manuscript with anyone who contacts him and mentions Tribe Sober –
  • Contact him at to request the manuscript

More Info

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The 11 Year Fact

Did you know that the average dependent drinker will struggle alone for 11 years before reaching out for help?

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