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Why Is Alcoholism Alcohol Use Disorder Considered a Chronic Disease?

Many, perhaps most, substance users embrace any excuse to be insincere and abdicate responsibility for themselves, even if they know in their heart, it’s a lie. Typically, alcohol withdrawal symptoms happen for heavier drinkers. Alcohol withdrawal can begin within hours of ending a drinking session.

SUD and AUD are behavioral health conditions that can benefit from treatment by addiction medicine experts. Alcoholism, or alcohol use disorder (AUD), is a complex disease that affects millions of people in the United States every year. People with alcoholism often experience a worsening of symptoms over time, causing greater distress in their lives. There are many potential causes of AUD, including cultural and social factors, mental illness, and trauma. It is treatable with therapy, medication, and continued support from others. Mutual-support groups provide peer support for stopping or reducing drinking.

Reducing the burden from harmful use of alcohol

Alcohol use disorder is a pattern of alcohol use that involves problems controlling your drinking, being preoccupied with alcohol or continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems. This disorder also involves having to drink more to get the same effect or having withdrawal symptoms when you rapidly decrease or stop drinking. Alcohol use disorder includes a level of drinking that’s sometimes called alcoholism. Alcoholism is considered a chronic disease with a long-term course, so treatment must mirror this concept. The best treatment plans are typically long term and evolve over time to continue addressing the changing needs of the individual as they move through the steps of recovery.

Most encourage extreme caution when diagnosing mental illness because of the potential for damage in doing so. People, who are labeled, usually conform to the standards that labels indicate, whether the diagnosis is correct or not. It’s dangerous ground that is commonly tread upon by professionals today. While it can be argued that Smithers’ efforts played an important role, it was Jellinek’s study that was such a monumental turning point for the supporters of the disease concept.

What is moderate drinking?

And more research should investigate social and cultural influences on alcoholism, rather than focusing on biological causes of it, he argued. In contrast, programs that teach personal responsibility and choice are far more successful than programs that teach the disease theory. The majority of counselors are, themselves, members of 12 Step groups and are believers in AA doctrine. These non-professional “professional” counselors have been manipulated into believing 12-Step propaganda.

Is alcoholism a disease True or false?

Alcohol use disorder is a disease of the brain. Over-consumption literally changes brain chemistry, and as tolerance to alcohol increases, the person must use more and more to feel the same effects, further damaging both the body and brain.

A health care provider might ask the following questions to assess a person’s symptoms. In addition, medications may be able to help ease or stop drinking and guard against relapses. The AMA promotes the art and science of medicine and the betterment of public health. Two years later, the court agreed to hear a case involving a man who argued he was afflicted with chronic alcoholism and that to punish him for his conduct would be cruel and unusual. The court, in the 1968 case Powell v. State of Texas, ultimately allowed the man to face punishment for his crime.


Some had been to as many as 20 or more conventional, disease-based treatment facilities prior to the interview. Of the total 545 substance abusers, 542 never thought they had a disease. Rather, they thought they had made poor choices regarding their substance use. Three thought they had a disease, and it should be noted that those three were continuing to use substances. For those who did not think they had a disease, more than 400 of them falsely stated during conventional treatment that they believed they had a disease. The pressure to conform to the treatment rhetoric and the built-in excuse to relapse were the primary reasons given by treatment clients for saying they had a disease even when they believed wholeheartedly that it was not true.

Alcohol Addiction or other drugs, commonly referred to as substance use disorder, is a chronic brain condition that can affect anyone. In 1956, the American Medical Association (AMA) recognized alcoholism as an illness; in 1987, it added addiction to that list. Repeated studies have shown that the average person, who could be diagnosed with a substance abuse problem, will discontinue use on their own 20 to 30 percent of the time.

How is alcohol use disorder diagnosed?

Some would argue that the residents of the United States are largely immigrants and, as a result, the alcoholism gene was introduced later in history. Meaning, the “new” citizens are not of the same family tree as those of the 1700s. But, it’s important to point out, many cultures outside of the United States do not even know what alcoholism is; they do not have a word for it.

is alcoholism a disease

Between 2015 and 2019, excessive alcohol use resulted in more than 140,000 fatalities and 3.6 million years of potential life lost (YPLL) annually in the United States, cutting people’s lives short by an average of 26 years. In fact, the consumption of alcohol by pregnant women is the leading cause of preventable birth defects in the U.S., and it can cause a particular constellation of problems called fetal alcohol syndrome. Women who have alcohol use disorder may benefit from treatment with medications and behavioral therapies, and in general, discontinuation of alcohol consumption during pregnancy improves outcomes for the baby. Medical treatment of drug addictions and alcoholism involves several evidence-based approaches. Treatment centers develop a customized plan for each patient depending on the severity of the alcohol use disorder and the presence of another co-occurring disorder. Environmental factors influencing alcoholism are also taken into account.

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