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Is Alcoholism a Disease? Understanding Alcohol Use Disorder

Medical providers can diagnose when alcoholism becomes a disease using sets of criteria established by experts to describe the signs and symptoms of alcoholism. The American Society of Addiction Medicine and the American Medical Association both maintain extensive policy regarding alcoholism. The American Psychiatric Association recognizes the existence of alcoholism as the equivalent of alcohol dependence. The American Hospital Association, the American Public Health Association, the National Association of Social Workers, and the American College of Physicians classify alcoholism as a disease. Stay current on the latest on the issues impacting physicians, patients and the health care environment with the AMA’s Advocacy Update Newsletter. Patients receiving inpatient or residential AUD therapy from the treatment center must live and stay in the rehab facility round-the-clock.

A person who drinks excessive amounts of alcohol will often not be the first person to realize that this is so. By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health sober house risks. Alcohol treatment is available in many formats, including inpatient and outpatient programs. A qualified admissions representative can help you identify the right kind of alcohol treatment.

The Neurobiology of Alcoholism

Additionally, some people argue someone can overcome alcoholism without treatment. While this might be true for early abusers, those with a chronic alcohol addiction need intensive treatment. Without treatment, most people can experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms that can be fatal. Close to 25-50% of people with substance use disorders have a chronic illness. As a result, it requires intensive treatment and continuing aftercare to manage their recovery.

is alcoholism a disease

Sometimes they try having a “firm” talk with and bargain for sobriety. Codependency grows as the loved ones try various ways to control their drinking. Not understanding that alcoholism is a disease, not weak will power, makes attempts to promote sobriety fail.

How can I prevent alcohol use disorder?

The majority of time, the diagnoses of alcoholism is a guess, if indeed such a diagnosis actually exists. There is little question that a person exposed to enough carcinogens or radiation will eventually get cancer. With alcohol it is questionable if a person will become a problem drinker if exposed to alcohol. While cancer is a separate entity of its own within the body that first exists without the knowledge of its host, over consumption of alcohol, a substance consumed by choice, is necessary before a diagnosis can be made. That is to say that one must choose to create the condition before the condition can exist and subsequently be diagnosed.

  • Most encourage extreme caution when diagnosing mental illness because of the potential for damage in doing so.
  • Although its intentions are synonymous with help, the organization’s lies and manipulations have damaged society as a whole, costing taxpayers billions of dollars and costing families the lives of their loved ones.

Many sociologists contribute its non-existence to the very stigma that the disease concept removes. It’s also called alcohol dependence, alcohol addiction or alcohol abuse. Since alcoholism or an alcohol use disorder is a chronic disease, people often require treatment to overcome it. If you live with an alcohol addiction, there is support available.

What is a standard drink?

Heavy drinkers and those who have lost control over responsible alcohol consumption also markedly increase their chances of dying from automobile accidents, homicide, and suicide. It’s a disease of brain function and requires medical and psychological treatments to control it. If you try to quit using substances, your brain tries to protect you from the pain and intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Addiction fuels your brain’s response to do whatever it takes to stop the cravings and discomfort.

There is no cure, but treatment helps you manage and successfully live with the disease. High-rent districts, “seedy” neighborhoods, age, race, sex or income—addiction weaves its way through all walks of life. No one thing can predict your risk of developing a substance use disorder. But researchers agree there are a combination of factors involved that can increase your risk. The American Medical Association (AMA) classified alcoholism as a disease in 1956 and included addiction as a disease in 1987. Alcohol detox isn’t easy and not everyone can do it on their own.