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Most people have a confused idea of alcoholism as a disease that invades or attacks your good health Use of such a strong word such as disease shapes the values and attitudes of society towards alcoholics A major implication of the disease concept is that what is labeled a disease is held to be justifiable because it is involuntary This is not so Problem drinking is a habit in which the so-called alcoholic simply has decided that the benefits of drinking outweigh the liabilities it is all a matter of personal choice An alcoholic participates in or causes many of their own problems by their behavior and the decisions they make so why should they be viewed as helpless victims of a diseaseSkipper 1 Alcoholism should not be viewed as a disease but as an addiction brought about by the alcoholics personal choices What is wrong with disease theories as science is that they are tautologies they avoid the work of understanding why people drink People seek specific essential human experiences from their addictive involvement They can come to depend on such an involvement for these experiences until -- in the extreme -- the involvement is totally consuming and potentially destructive Peele 146 The idea that alcoholism is a disease which is only typified by the loss of control was only sanctioned by the American Medical Association in 1956 Wilbanks 39 The AMA gives the following definition for alcoholism Alcoholism is an illness characterized by preoccupation with alcohol and loss of control over its consumption such as to lead usually to intoxication if drinking by chronicity by progression and by a tendency toward relapse It is typically associated with physical disability and impaired emotional occupational andor social adjustments as a direct consequence of persistent excessive use Langone 27 This meant that an alcoholic could now get help in a hospital just as a person with a real disease such as diabetes or leukemia would
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