I'm currently reading C. S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters with a friend of mine who is a recovered alcoholic. There's a chapter that deals with pleasures of the body and how Screwtape's nephew can use them to tempt his human into sin. It's not that pleasure is bad, it's when pleasure takes the place of legitimate joy that you get into trouble.
My friend talked about using alcohol as a pain killer and how you get trapped by it. When you're going through bad times, it's easy to have a drink or three or four to get through it. His bad times were worse than most by a good margin so his analgesic needs were substantial. He said what happened was that when the pain went away, the booze was still there. Just as Screwtape said, the pain-relieving nature of pleasure had turned into a hunger for that pleasure that outlived the need.
My friend said that it's in the bad times when you need to fast more than ever. That shocked me, but it made sense. At one point in my own life, I'd been in a similar situation, but I escaped alcoholism by dumping several hundred dollars worth of top-shelf booze down the drain when I knew my bad times were pretty much over. I could see the dependency right around the corner, but was still in control enough to willingly dump the stuff. I was lucky*.
I wonder if fasting would have worked instead of intoxicants to survive the bad spell.
* - In retrospect, luck had nothing to do with it. I later experienced a miracle that I realize now tied into that moment. Someone was looking out for me. At some point on this blog, I'll have to share the story of my miracle, but that's something for another blog post.