Does The Medical Community Consider Alcoholism A Disease?
Yes. Most experts in the medical and scientific community agree that alcoholism is a disease. The American Medical Association identified alcohol as a physical disease and condition in 1956. According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcoholism is like any other disease. It is chronic, symptomatic and has a predictable pattern or course. The chances for developing alcoholism can be influenced by both genetics and lifestyle. Alcoholics experience an obsession and craving for alcohol. They will continue to drink regardless of its negative consequences (e.g. issues within the family system, health concerns and legal problems).
The primary distinctions between the alcoholic and non alcoholic are physiological differences in their bodies and although psychological factors can play a role in an alcoholic’s drinking patterns and/or behaviors, psychological issues are not the underlying cause of alcoholism. If there are psychological or social issues that are influencing how the alcoholic drinks, it certainly has nothing to do with the fact that they are alcoholic. Alcoholism is a physical condition. With it, comes a physiological addiction and dependence on alcohol.
Alcoholism is not a product of poor conduct or irresponsible behavior. Alcoholism is not based on personality disorders, conduct disorders, immorality, emotional issues or early childhood trauma. For the alcoholic, there are biochemical differences in the brain. Unlike normal drinkers, the alcoholic’s body responds differently to alcohol. When the alcoholic consumes alcohol, there are changes in their body’s physiology.
Alcoholism can be a deadly disease. Over time, the alcoholic’s health will inevitably suffer. Alcoholism harms every organ in the body, including the brain. Alcoholism can also affect the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys and pancreas. Alcoholic drinking can lead to heart and liver disease, cancer and pancreatitis. One common misconception is the belief that most alcoholic deaths are related to cirrhosis of liver. In truth, heart failure is the major cause of alcoholic deaths.
Alcoholism is a deceptive disease. It fools the alcoholic into believing that alcohol is a solution to their problems and not the cause of them.