Reframing Alcoholism: Researcher Argues Against ‘Disease’ Label
For moreِ than 100 years, alcoholism hasِ beenِ viewed asِ a disease; however, thisِ framing hasِ created barriers toِ diagnosing, treating andِ even understanding theِ condition, oneِ psychologist argues.
By adhering soِ strictly toِ theِ disease model…I thinkِ thatِ we missِ the opportunity toِ frame alcoholism inِ ways thatِ couldِ help someِ people, saidِ Lance Brendan Young, a postdoctoral research fellow withِ theِ Department ofِ Veterans Affairs’ Center forِ Comprehensive Access & Delivery Research andِ Evaluation inِ Iowa City, Iowa.
To beِ diagnosed withِ alcoholism means a person hasِ to give upِ theirِ identity asِ a normal person, andِ take onِ the identity ofِ someone withِ a disease, Young said.
Young published his views in the September issue of the journal Culture & Psychology.
Who is an alcoholic?
Alcoholism isِ a physical addiction toِ alcohol inِ which people continue toِ drink evenِ though theِ drinking causesِ physical, mental andِ social problems, including problems withِ job responsibilities andِ relationships, according toِ theِ National Institutes ofِ Health.
A drawback toِ framing alcoholism asِ a disease isِ that weِ tend toِ thinkِ ofِ diseases asِ something thatِ needsِ to beِ diagnosed byِ a professional, Young said.
We tend toِ lookِ atِ smaller andِ smaller parts ofِ the human body, andِ the human mind andِ the human brain, toِ find theِ causeِ of something, Young said.
Young said he prefers to use the word allergy to describe alcoholism.
It isِ less threatening toِ considerِ the idea thatِ oneِ mightِ haveِ anِ allergy thanِ to considerِ the idea thatِ oneِ mightِ beِ permanently diseased, Young said.
In addition, drinkers shouldِ notِ feel theyِ haveِ to leave theirِ diagnosis toِ a physician.
Ihsan Salloum, chief ofِ the Division ofِ Alcohol andِ Drug abuse atِ the University ofِ Miami Miller School ofِ Medicine; whoِ alsoِ called theِ Young’s article moreِ philosophical thanِ scientific.