This question has been debated over for many years. If you ask a person that is a recovering alcoholic if they have a disease, they will most likely say yes. Then again, if you ask an alcoholic if they have a disease, they will most likely say no. Alcoholism has many characteristics of a disease but is not recognized as a disease by everyone.
As of 1992 the Joint Committee of the National Council on Alcoholism (JAMA) joint with the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) to answer this question. They concluded that alcoholism is a chronic disease with psychosocial, genetically hereditary and environmental factors that affect its progression and symptoms. Due to the credibility of these organizations, many people accept it as truth.
The genetically hereditary nature of addiction would suggest that alcoholism is a disease. However, these genes are only partially inherited and the generational influence primarily derives from the environment that children grow up in.
Some say that calling alcoholism a disease is useful for those that are addicted to alcohol, but it does little for people that frequently abuse alcohol but do not have the same dependency on it. Have you ever had a friend that drinks a lot say, “don’t worry, I don’t have a problem”? If that friend was to admit that they had a problem with drinking, it would also mean that they would have to identify as someone with a disease. Instead, individuals will modify their behavior so that those around them will think that they are normal. This can lead to drinking in secret, or any other way to avoid being identified as a person with a disease.
Another argument is that by calling alcoholism a disease, people think that they require a diagnosis from a medical professional. However, some say that because doctors can only meet with a patient a few times over a typical week, they cannot possibly gain all the insights to diagnose the patient adequately.
Whatever side your beliefs fall as to whether or not alcoholism is a disease, those that want to end their struggle with it should enroll in an addiction treatment facility. The bottom line is that alcoholism is powerful, progressive and potentially fatal. Due to the dangerous side effects that come with alcohol withdrawal, it is highly encouraged that people choose a facility that offers 24-hour professional medical care.
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