Is Addiction Really a Disease?
For many decades it’s been widely accepted that alcoholism (or addiction) is a disease. The “disease concept” is taught in addiction training programs and told to patients in treatment programs. It is unquestioned by public figures and the media. But is it true? And if it is not true, is there a better and more helpful way to define addiction?
Let’s start with a short history. In the bad old days, before the disease concept became widely popular (about 40 years ago), our society was even more prejudiced against people with addictions than it is now. “Addicts” were seen as different and worse than “normal” folks. They were thought to be lacking in ordinary discipline and morality, as self-centered and uncaring. They were seen as people who were out for their own pleasure without regard for anyone else. They were viewed as having deficiencies in character.