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Alcoholism is More than a “Disease”

In our society, we our taught to treat alcohol addiction as a disease of the brain, but this limits the way psychologist are able to diagnose, treat and understand this condition as it pertains to each individual person. One psychologist: Lance Brendan Young, has begun to argue that by adhering to the disease model, we are missing the opportunity to frame alcohol addiction in ways that could specifically help those who are not necessarily alcoholics.

He believes that thinking of alcohol addiction as a disease weakens the moral stigma given to the alcohol struggle. The alcohol disease model has proven to be very effective in treating people who consider themselves alcoholics, but when it comes to those who are not sure if their drinking is problematic or not, it can almost be harmful to them if they do not really suffer from the disease. When a person is diagnosed as an alcoholic, it automatically takes away the feelings of being a “normal person”, thereby them to take on an identity they associate with the disease.

Consequently, some people then change their overall behavior in an effort to be viewed and seen as a normal human being. A perfect example of this would be a person thinking that only alcoholics drink alone, so they would then feel the need to only drink when others are drinking. That way, the person is able to continue drinking excessively without believing they need alcohol treatment, which is far from actual reality. Young admitted that he is not supporting eliminating the disease model, but is hoping to evolve the idea of alcoholism and move past how it has been viewed previously.

Young said he believes the medical community needs to find a way to frame the condition of alcoholism in a way that is less threatening to a person’s identity as a human being, and this might just start with using different words to describe alcoholism. He also believes that more research should be done on investigating other causes of alcoholism besides the biological causes, such as social and cultural influences.

Alcohol addiction is a hard thing to overcome but the reward of being sober and healthy is so worth overcoming the addiction. Alcoholism is defined as a physical addiction to alcohol where people will participate in drinking even though it ends up causing them physical, mental and social problems, including problems with job responsibilities and relationships. This definition comes from the National Institutes of Health and is the basis for why alcoholism is defined as a disease.

One of the problems with defining alcoholism as a disease is that people believe they have to go to a doctor or professional to get diagnosed. The fact of the matter is physicians usually only meet with patients for a small amount of time and, therefore, are unable to really diagnose something like alcohol addiction without spending more time with the patient and assuming the patient is honest about their drinking patterns.

The disease model gives the false assumption that an alcohol addiction is just a biological disorder when, in fact, it could be many different factors that lead to struggling with alcohol. Young explained that he prefers using the word “allergy” instead to describe alcoholism. With it considered an allergy, people might tend to think it is more of something you can overcome instead of a person thinking they have a disease that makes them not normal and a stigmatism to society. The last thing anyone would want to do is alienate those suffering from addiction, because dealing with the struggle is enough on its own.

The problem with alcohol addiction is there are so many different variations of abuse or misuse. This is why it is so important for people suffering from alcoholism to realize they need to change their way of living for the better and receive care and alcohol treatment program in order to live a life of recovery. When people realize they are suffering from addiction, it is not only their body that is suffering, but it is also their person as a whole that is hurting. So when we look at helping those with addiction through the recovery process, we must realize that patients have to understand the process as well as work the tools to get better.

No one wants to be alienated when they are already suffering and alcohol treatment is the best way for those suffering to find the help they need and realize that they are not alone in this process. At Vista Taos Renewal Center, patients will find the type of care they have been waiting for to get better and finally free their bodies of this frustrating addiction. If you or a loved one is suffering from alcohol addiction, please contact Vista Taos today for more information on rehabilitation and alcohol treatment.

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