The notion of alcoholism and addiction as a disease has become a controversial topic over the years. The concept of a disease that started with a choice makes some people reject the concept outright. Interestingly though, the majority of these same people do not reject diabetes caused by diet or lung cancer caused by smoking as diseases.
The controversial nature and stigma of drug addiction and alcoholism is likely the source of apprehension to the disease concept of addiction and alcoholism. Here we break down some of the main arguments for the disease concept of addiction and alcoholism.
The medical community officially recognizes alcoholism/addiction as a disease
One of the most powerful arguments for the disease concept of alcoholism/addiction is that the medical community officially recognizes it as a disease. Alcoholism was first recognized as a disease by the American Medical Association in 1956, followed by addiction being recognized in 1987.
Today the two are combined under the umbrella “substance use disorders” within the DSM-V, the primary diagnostic manual used by physicians. So while many continue to debate against the disease concept of addiction/alcoholism, medicine has long since moved on from the discussion.
A genetic component to alcoholism and addiction has been discovered
Several genes and their genetic functions have been identified as having a role in making someone more susceptible to alcoholism and addiction disorders. These genes typically play a roll in things such as impulsivity, risk-taking, anxiety, and stress response.
While they do not “give” someone addiction/alcoholism disorders, they play a major role in making someone more susceptible to developing one.
Addiction and alcoholism are not simply a matter of willpower
Alcoholism and addiction are chronic fatal diseases. In other words, if allowed to continue, they always result in death. Before death, they typically destroy every aspect of the addict/alcoholic’s life. Facing these grave consequences, however, very few addict/alcoholics manage to stop on their own willpower.
Continuing to repeat the same behaviors that are slowly killing the user goes against human nature. This powerlessness over the substance until treatment provides a strong argument for the disease concept of alcoholism/addiction.
This article is intended for those considering a new way of life, free of the pain of drug and alcohol addiction. For more information on recovery and anyone seeking help with addiction and substance abuse problems, please call True Recovery at (844) 744-8783.