Alcoholism: A disease or an Addiction?
Uploaded by join_me_ on Feb 15, 2001
Most people have a confused idea of alcoholism as a disease that invades or attacks your good health. Use of such a strong word such as "disease" shapes the values and attitudes of society towards alcoholics. A major implication of the disease concept is that what is labeled a "disease" is held to be justifiable because it is involuntary. This is not so. Problem drinking is a habit in which the so-called "alcoholic" simply has decided that the benefits of drinking outweigh the liabilities; it is all a matter of personal choice. An alcoholic participates in or causes many of their own problems by their behavior and the decisions they make, so why should they be viewed as helpless victims of a "disease"(Skipper 1)? Alcoholism should not be viewed as a disease, but as an addiction brought about by the alcoholic's personal choices.
What is wrong with disease theories as science is that they are tautologies; they avoid the work of understanding why people drink. People seek specific, essential human experiences from their addictive involvement. They can come to depend on such an involvement for these experiences until -- in the extreme -- the involvement is totally consuming and potentially destructive (Peele 146). The idea that alcoholism is a "disease", which is only typified by the loss of control, was only sanctioned by the American Medical Association in 1956 (Wilbanks 39). The AMA gives the following definition for alcoholism: " Alcoholism is an illness characterized by preoccupation with alcohol and loss of control over its consumption, such as to lead usually to intoxication if drinking; by chronicity, by progression and by a tendency toward relapse. It is typically associated with physical disability and impaired emotional, occupational and/or social adjustments as a direct consequence of persistent excessive use (Langone 27)". This meant that an alcoholic could now get help in a hospital, just as a person with a real disease such as diabetes or leukemia would . Moreover, the use of the words "loss of control" make it seem as though the alcoholic's free will has just been ripped away from him. On the contrary, there is no evidence that the will of the drinker has been overpowered. Besides labeling alcoholism as a disease, the AMA has also done a huge error in stating that alcoholism causes people to lose control over the consumption of alcohol. This will only negate the...