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Disease Concept of Alcoholism Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 27th, 2020

The contention that alcoholism is a disease is slowly getting popularity globally but the question remains whether it is really a disease. The universal definition of a disease is anything that is capable of causing an imbalance in the body’s nervous system thus, going by this definition then it is a disease, but in this century whereby there are many sorts of addictions hence, it is difficult to conclude which of them are diseases.If it is really a disease alcoholics require medical treatment and not moral sanctions as it is now in many societies.

There is a model that has been created to handle alcoholism as a medical condition; it is known as the dispositional disease model also known as “disease concept of alcoholism.” It is based on the psychological disposition affect which is the personal ability of an individual to react to issues in a steady manner which may be positive or negative. The model therefore helps alcoholics to perceive the condition in a positive way. It does so by enabling them to accept some recovery prerequisites which are: accepting that one is suffering from alcoholism, one should also aspire to transform, admit that there is no personal ability to change by themselves, and finally one should be ready to accept recovery help offered.

The model proposes that alcoholism can be considered as a unitary disorder; that one can either be an alcoholic or not and that the condition is qualitative not quantitative hence it does not matter how much you drink. Secondly the model suggests that alcoholism is physical and not biological. Its proponents argue that the causes are physiological and they originate from the genetics of a person and this are; abnormal metabolism and brain chemistry. They argue that it is the reason as to why some races suffer from alcoholism than others. Psychological and social problems are considered as the outcome of alcoholism not the cause.

“In reality, an abnormal physiological reaction is causing the alcoholic’s increasing psychological and emotional problems” (Miller, 33-34). Loss of control is a highly considered symptom in the model and it is very common in all cases of alcoholism. Alcoholics’ lose control of their ability to stop since it is influenced by physiological factors that cannot be changed by morals or punishment. The fourth component of the model is that alcoholism cannot be reversed, once it has happened that’s it; the condition is incurable. Any treatment that does not advocate for complete abstinence is not allowed in this model because one drop of alcohol will return the former alcoholics to where they started.

Perceiving alcoholism as a disease is a beneficial step in stopping alcoholism because people will realize the seriousness of the matter; and considering that no one likes getting exposed to diseases people might stop irresponsible intake of alcohol. The model also can be used to motivate alcoholics since it is mainly concerned with the stage, (not having it or not) therefore being an alcoholic is not the end, people can manage it depending on the stage of illness just like HIV/AIDS.

The model has various weaknesses that have made it difficult for it to be adopted universally. To begin with, it does not consider the moral side of the issue; alcoholics are considered as moral delinquents by the society and that they are liars who cannot be trusted. The model should have a way of helping them deal with this perception. Assuming that alcoholics will accept their condition and embrace change is also a huge mistake because that is the most difficult thing that an alcoholic will do. It involves very intense confrontations for them to accept it, although morally it is their responsibility to do so.

They are regarded as uncooperative and unmotivated by the society giving them a negative moral view. The model itself is also an abuse of morality since it proposes that alcoholics are incurable hence it is considered to be encouraging them to continue with their habits. The model also seems to force people to undergo treatment against their will. This is because the model assumes that alcoholics are sick and do not have the ability to think rationally, hence someone has to make the decision for them. This approach has been criticized whether it is ethical to coerce treatment on alcoholics an act that is not executed for other physical diseases.

Scientifically the model also has some disputable hypotheses; People suffering from alcoholism sometimes tend to modulate their habit in some social conditions while others have ceased drinking without undergoing any treatment or recovery groups. Research on alcoholics has not shown any presence of physiological abnormalities in addicts. Psychological and social rehabilitation methods have also been proved to be effective in solving this problem despite the fact that the model says they cannot. If the model was to be used to control alcoholism, then that will be a very difficult task because warnings against alcohol should then be directed only to those that are genetically sick and not everyone.

This would be a very unfruitful method since indentifying those that have the abnormalities is quite difficult. The method is ineffective since it was not derived from science but from moral, political, and economic forces of the American society. It is therefore impossible for it to adequately understand and address alcohol problems. It fails to incorporate scientific data leading to treatment and prevention programs that are extremely limited in focus.

There is need to for a descriptive model created by bearing in mind the general public health model, which comprises of three components of treatment, prevention and research of diseases. These components are known as etiological factors and are: the host, agent and the environment. The host in this case will be the person and the agent is the chemical which is ethanol. The control of disease is not achieved by treatment only but also by exclusively focusing on the agent and the host. Environmentally, prevention of alcohol consumption would be the best action to take.This involves decreasing supply and demand, increase taxation on alcohol, restrict advertisements of alcohol, licensing and ensure warning labels on liquor are in place.

In solving peoples problems we need to understand their needs because they are the cause of the problems. Most people will indulge in certain activities for a reason; therefore it is their need to achieve what they want that will guide each and every move they take.Human beings have four types of needs that are fundamental for survival. These needs are: Psychological issues such as hunger, sexual and emotional needs, they also require to be loved and be affiliated with others, need to feel safe, and finally they need to have self-esteem and feel appreciated.

Lack of the above needs creates an intense deficiency in an individual which often leads to depression and people end up looking for these needs in other things such as alcohol. If one requires rehabilitating people with problems in their lives; then one has to find out what needs a particular person is lacking and how to provide it. This calls for intense research about them because most of them will not tell directly what their problem is but instead one will have to find out. Problem solving therefore involves understanding people and their various diverse needs.

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IvyPanda. "Disease Concept of Alcoholism." June 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/disease-concept-of-alcoholism/.


IvyPanda. 2020. "Disease Concept of Alcoholism." June 27, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/disease-concept-of-alcoholism/.


IvyPanda. (2020) 'Disease Concept of Alcoholism'. 27 June.

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