Alcoholism Not A Disease

Alcoholism isn’t a disease.

Research from the:
National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, University of New South Wales, Kensington
and published on the:
US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health website

To expound the argument that alcoholism (or “problem drinking”) is not best regarded as a disease.
Excessive drinking can cause physical disease and involve physical dependence without therefore being a disease itself. The “disease concept” of alcoholism is not needed to justify medical intervention or a caring approach to those who are dependent on alcohol. There is a specific and a general version of the disease concept of alcoholism. The specific disease concept, associated mainly with the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, is contradicted by empirical evidence and unhelpful for preventive and treatment responses to problem drinking, especially for the effort to detect and modify problem drinking at an early stage. The more general disease concept shares these disadvantages and is also ineffective in engendering sympathetic attitudes towards problem drinkers among the general public. It is more useful to view problem drinking as the result of the interaction between the individual’s personality and the social context in which he or she has learned how to drink.

For an effective and compassionate societal response to problem drinking, the disease model of alcoholism should be replaced by a social learning perspective.


drunk tank

Do you think alcoholism is a disease?

Most Americans say they do.

Do they act like it.

I don’t think that they do.

Here are some reasons I don’t believe it is a disease:

Employers screen new applicants for drugs.

They do not screen for cancer or AIDS or Hepatitis.

If you have a heart attack while driving it is an accident.

If you are drunk while driving it is a crime.

If you have cancer or AIDS or Hepatitis you go to the doctor.

If you are a drunk you sober up and go to a meeting.

If you have cancer and relapse you are not going to lose your job.

If you show up intoxicated at work again there is a good chance you will.

If you have a “real” disease and cannot work you will probably get Social Security benefits.

If you are a drunk and cannot work you won’t.

Do you think Americans believe alcoholism is a disease?

alcohol facts 4What I do know is:

Alcoholism runs in families.

I know that 40% of the children of alcoholics will become problem drinkers themselves. Regardless of who raises them.

I know that I cannot control my drinking.

I know many people who also cannot control their drinking.


As Americans the only thing we seem certain of is that alcoholism acts like an allergy.

If you have Hay Fever. It is unwise to roll around in the grass.

If your an alcoholic. It is unwise to drink.

Everyone seems to agree on this.


For a much more in depth and less wise ass discussion see:
Is alcoholism a disease
What is an addiction 
Raging Alcoholic