Is Addiction a Diseas?

There are many schools of thought about whether or not addiction is a disease or a life choice but the American Medical Association (AMA) decreed that alcoholism was an illness in 1956 and a disease in 1966. Those who believe that addiction is a disease subscribe to the notion that sobriety or abstinence doesn’t eradicate the addict label.

DiseaseThe disease, according to those who believe in it, is less about the alcoholic’s behavior. It is more about the thinking which causes the alcoholic or addict to drink or use drugs to excess. The belief is that the addict or alcoholic drinks or uses drugs in order to escape their way thinking. Those who support the disease model believe that alcoholics are born with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism that their behavior then exacerbates and that the cure for the disease is the maintenance of a strong spiritual condition through the practice of attending 12-step meetings and practicing AA’s 12 steps.

These steps focus on cleaning up the past and making amends for bad behavior. Trying to rid oneself of character defects and most significantly developing a relationship with a Higher Power. Those who don’t believe in the disease model say that alcoholics/addicts choose to drink/use drugs in addictive ways. And that couching their behavior as a disease abdicates them of responsibility for the damage their behavior causes. The anti-disease advocates believe that telling alcoholics/addicts that they suffer from disease actually harms them. It is because it prevents them from getting better. Disease advocates argue that by teaching alcoholics and addicts that they have a disease is helpful. Those who are suffering are able to forgive themselves for their egregious behavior and find recovery without shame.