Alcohol Abuse: Alcoholism as a Disease Essay

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The problem of alcohol abuse has been recognized for thousands of years, but only more recently have we begun to see alcohol addiction as a treatable disorder. According to the Classical Disease Model of `Alcoholism,' habitual use of alcohol can be identified as a disease. Webster's Dictionary defines the concept of `disease' as follows: "Any departure from health presenting marked symptoms; malady; illness; disorder." Therefore, as many occurrences of alcohol excess provoke such symptoms, it is somewhat understandable that `alcoholism' is classified as a disease. The Classical Disease Model appears to offer a hopeful option. Treatment and sobriety can allow people to lead fulfilling lives. Adjacent to the notion of alcoholism as personal …show more content…
With reference to the history of this concept, I will assess why the notion of alcoholism as a disease is currently believed to be inadequate while suggesting other, supposedly more efficient models of understanding the problem of alcoholism.

The Classical Disease Model dates back over two hundred years and is considered by many to be the dominant principle of alcoholism. Despite this, the Classical Disease Model came under scrutiny in the 1960's and has since been rejected by the vast majority in favour of alternative models (Heather & Robertson, 1997). Throughout the first half of the 19th century, the concept gained acceptance in the medical community despite the absence of a systematic empirical groundwork, leading to the establishment of various methods of treatment for alcoholics. The Classical Disease Model regards complete abstinence to be the only solution for the diseased state (Jellinek, 1960) and corresponds with the ideas promoted by Alcoholics Anonymous. AA believe that there is some specific biological pre-disposing factor which is present whether drinking takes place or not. They regard `alcoholics' who have been abstinent for many years as still having the disease and therefore as `reformed alcoholics'.

E.M. Jellinek was one of the most influential contributors to the disease concept of alcoholism, characterising alcoholism as a progressive

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