Is Alcoholism a disease?

No, you can have a strong desire to do something and still refuse to do it. I have a strong desire to eat candy, but I don’t do it for a variety of reasons. You can resist a strong desire. Someone makes the choice whether or not to drink. Someone does not make the choice whether or not to get a disease.

Wrong again. You can still desire to help people even if you view their actions as voluntary. In fact, it’s vital to accurately label their actions if you desire to help them. If you’re simply telling an alcoholic that they have no power and that they are helpless in the face of alcohol, how is that helping them? If you tell them that, indeed, they can resist the temptation to drink and equip them with strategies to do so, that is much more helpful.

This makes absolutely no sense. You can get diseases from voluntary actions, obviously. Those of us who reject the disease label for alcoholism aren’t saying that, say, cirrhosis of the liver isn’t a disease or that the diseases that come from alcohol abuse aren’t diseases. We are saying that the act of drinking isn’t a disease.

Since you think that alcoholism is a disease, using your logic do you then think that working near asbestos is a disease or coal mining is a disease? You see how ridiculous that is?

Exactly my point, thank you.

Look at (and actually read) what I quoted immediately before my comments. Clothahump seemed to be saying that the key thing that made alcoholism not a disease was that it resulted from voluntary actions.

Of course you do-you have cancer. Was your point that smoking is a disease as well?

The disease model of alcoholism was useful in steering public opinion away from the moral model, where alcoholism was viewed strictly as a matter of will-power, but it has a lot of flaws. The links between genetics and alcoholism aren’t firm, and it’s difficult to tease out the role of culture in alcoholism.

Alrighty lets look at some facts:

  1. Alcohol smells foul (until one becomes accustomed to it, I assume.)
  2. Alcoholic drinks are expensive
  3. A large percentage (majority?) of crimes and automobile accidents occur while intoxicated
  4. Alcoholic drinks have less flavor (at least wine does) than the original thing they were made from (i.e. grape juice)–and still smell foul.

And yet 99.999% of all people in the US (world?) gladly drink it regularly and more importantly, to the point where they do become accustomed to it and actually feel that it is worth shelling out amazing quantities of money for.
So, if you want to state that alcoholism is a matter of choice, I’m going to have to ask if you’re with me over on the 0.0001% of the population? I certainly made a choice, but from this vantage I can say that 99.999% of everyone just doesn’t put that much thought into it when they’re teens and by the time things have alrighty turned out okay or gone to hell, you may already be screwed.

i.e. -> e.g.

“Strong desire” != “compulsion.”

One, your statistics are flawed. I highly doubt that 99% of Americans drink and I doubt that even less drink it regularly. I also don’t think that a majority of crimes and automobile accidents occur while intoxicated. Please give me a cite on these two statistics.

Two, you left out a fifth point: 5) alcohol makes you feel very good. People will put up with a foul tasting drink if it produces a good result. Does this mean they are addicted? Of course not. It means that they have made a trade-off – they have given up their cash and put up with a noxious-tasting liquid in order to get a feeling of euphoria. For some that trade-off causes no problem. For some they have a hard time recognizing that the price they are paying for the euphoria is hurting them. That doesn’t mean they have a disease, though.

Fine, but that still does not mean that you are forced to do anything. I have many strong desires but I usually resist them. If I don’t resist them I don’t go around trying to escape my personal responsibility by blaming it on a disease. Hell, I have a strong desire to see women naked (as do most men, I would reckon). But if I spend all day looking at porn or in a titty bar, does this mean I have a disease? No, it just means I can’t resist my strong desires, or that I don’t have any reason to resist them. Same with drinking.

And yet, we’re not talking about strong desires. We’re talking about compulsion.

As an alkie myself (10+ years without), I really don’t care what other people want to call it. I label myself an addict because alcohol is not the only thing I crave. I could as easily get addicted to exercise as I did to booze, overeating, and cigarettes.

Is alcoholism a “disease” in and of itself? Don’t know. But it is a convenient term.

Dictionary.dom has:

  1. A pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress, and characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.
  2. A condition or tendency, as of society, regarded as abnormal and harmful.
  3. Obsolete. Lack of ease; trouble.

From this description, I’d say it fits pretty well.

Whether or not choosing to consume an item defines “disease” seems to be the point I’m seeing argued. As someone who has quit smoking, quit drinking, and lost 30 of the pounds (with 30 more to go), I know better than to think that I could successfully go back to my old routines without paying the consequences and that’s good enough for me. My friends jokingly call me “the poster child of willpower”, but I would say it’s the opposite. My lack of willpower when it comes to these things causes me to have to go to great lengths to stay away from them.

Your “strong desire” is not a compulsion. Unless you have suffered a compulsive activity, you are not qualified to declare that it is just a “strong desire” that can be overcome with will power. You are simply moralistically blaming the victim for something that you do not happen to suffer.

It makes you feel good (to say nothing of feeling superior), but does nothing to address the issue.

(And your adherence to this point in the face of information posted in this thread linking alcoholism (and other drug addictions) to a genetic component indicates a desire to simply deny evidence.)

So compulsion is thusly defined: “An irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation.” Sorry, but I reject that anyone takes a drink because of an “irresistible impulse to act.” If it were so irresistible, then why are there so many former alcoholics who don’t drink?

People drink because they find pleasure in it. They are not “irresistably motivated.” Unless someone has a gun to your head forcing you to drink, you can always put the bottle down. If you choose not to do that, then you have made a choice. Don’t try to blame it on a “compulsion” or a “disease.” You may need to learn how to control your desires better and you may need some sort of professional help to do that, but let’s not trivialize real diseases like cancer or AIDS by comparing them to people who like to drink a lot.


I didn’t say a majority does, as evidenced by the parantheses and question mark. Though again, hyperbole.

Only if you ever try it.

I wasn’t talking about addiction, but rather the amount of logic people apply when it comes to something that 99.999%* of every one else already does. I’m just making a fairly good guess that Clothahump himself did not do a whole lot of thinking when he started drinking (assuming he did) or when most people start smoking, or any other thing that really has no logical reason for being…until such a time as you’ve done it enough that a reason for being comes to exist.
Or as I used to say, “Bang your head into a wall enough times and you’ll come to like that too.”

Though I had believed that the primary reason most people enjoyed alcohol at first was to help them drop their inhibitions? (As opposed to some sort of euphoria.) Of course, just dropping your inhibitions on your own just means that 1) you’ve saved money, 2) your brain can still function properly–so you can stear yourself out of waking up with the really ugly girl, and 3) it’s actually you having fun! Oh, and you get to drink things that taste better. (Would you pass me that 1993, Coca Cola Classic? Oh no no, not the 94! Awful year, awful.)

  • Hyperbole :cool:

Courtesy of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, here are some actual stats about drinking patterns in the United States. Most relevant here:

About half of Americans ages 12 and over report being current drinkers, which is defined as having at least one drink in the past 30 days
22.6 percent reported binge drinking in the past 30 days, which is defined as five or more drinks on one occasion.
About 6.8 percent report heavy drinking, which is defined as five or more drinks on at least five different days in the past 30 days.

I find this subject fascinating.

I also, found this essay rather thought provoking.

Fromthe Skepdi’s Dictionary:

and there’s more, very interesting.

Not a terrible surprise–but still: :frowning:

The way it was described to me by AA people, if you can’t stop once you’ve started, it doesn’t matter if you do it daily or yearly…you’re an alcoholic.

(Frankly, my feeling is that alcoholism isn’t all that bad a malady as long as you can keep it down to once a year!)

Why does that earn a :frowning: ? It’s lower than your 99% estimate, usage declines with age, and the majority of drinkers suffer few to no ill effects from their occasional use.

No no: :frowning: because it’s from age 12.

But someone who only drinks at parties is every bit as much someone who has succumbed to societal pressures as a regular drinker–so 50% would be lower than the figure I would be looking for. And also, since we are mostly talking about teens and young teens, really it’s the 15 to 25 yo range that I would be interested in.

And of course, teens think in hyperbole–so even though it may only be 50%, if it sems like everyone’s doing it then everyone’s doing it.

Again, I’m talking about the amount of choosing that goes into putting alcohol to your lips, not the possible effects of it. Clothahump was saying that drinking is a choice–while I’m stating that for most people, starting drinking is generally not–but rather just something that you do at that age.

And since I doubt hump made any such decision when he was a kid–that it imight not have become a problem for him could have more to do with his getting lucky than having chosen well. Had he had alcoholic genes, it could have been a whole different story.