We Need to Change the way we Think About Alcoholism


From Massive: The public generally conceptualizes alcoholism as a biological brain disease and rejects the notion that social and cultural factors may contribute to addiction. However, new research shows that family and social support can greatly reduce an individual’s risk for alcoholism.

“In some ways, thinking about alcoholism as a purely biological disease was a fantastic and desperately needed change, because it helped ease the image of dysfunction typically associated with alcohol use. But I believe the move to apply modern disease theory to studying an illness like Alcohol Use Disorder was problematic, too: it largely removed the social and cultural components of understanding the illness.

By changing the narrative to ‘it’s just genetics,’ or, ‘it’s a brain disease you can’t control,’ I’d argue we stunted important sociological research on Alcohol Use Disorder by silently writing off possible social and cultural attributions to the disease. Even though those lenses can be problematic, I don’t think erasing them entirely is helping: researchers have shown that this ‘disease like any other’ language in the light of modern medical advances does absolutely nothing for erasing the stigma associated with alcoholism and mental illness in general.”

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  1. I don’t think I even need to read the article to know what my criticism is. “Alcoholics Anonymous”, starting in the 1930’s, was key to publicizing the DISEASE CONCEPT of alcoholism. A.A. NEVER said, explicitly, “alcoholism is a disease”. One of the co-founders of A.A., on his deathbed, said to the other, “Let’s not louse this thing up.” He meant, “avoid professionalism”. Calling it “Alcohol Use Disorder” is merely professional name-calling, and still constitutes STIGMA. It’s bogus. I’d suggest that anybody seriously interested in alcoholism needs to read the original AA-approved literature, for a better understanding. Going to a few, or even many, A.A. meetings, is NOT sufficient. Working the 12 Steps is the heart & soul of A.A. recovery. Sadly, even many alcoholics either will not, or can not, completely give themselves to A.A.’s simple program. And I’ve met damn few “professionals” who even begin to have a clue, either. I don’t care if you DO have a Ph.D. You either know, or you don’t. And most don’t, although they *think* that they do….
    Ah, the arrogance of over-educated ignorance….
    (c)2018, Tom Clancy, Jr., *NON-fiction

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