Is Alcoholism a Disease?

Hser and colleagues (1997, 2007) have used the terms “addiction careers” and “treatment careers” to describe such patterns of recurrent AOD use and repeated treatment experiences. Like many other substance use disorders, alcohol use disorder is a chronic and sometimes relapsing condition that reflects changes in the brain. This means that when people with the disorder are abstaining from alcohol, they are still at increased risk of resuming unhealthy alcohol consumption, even if years have passed since their last drink.

Additionally, it is not uncommon for those who use alcohol to use tobacco, too. Smoking can further increase the risk of developing cancers of the upper gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract. The overconsumption of alcohol can lead to pancreatitis, which describes painful inflammation of the pancreas that often requires hospitalization. Evidence suggests that alcohol is one of the most common causes of pancreatitis. Alcohol use cannot cause schizophrenia, but alcohol psychosis can result in similar symptoms. The condition often mimics schizophrenia and can cause symptoms that appear quickly and resolve within days to weeks.

Treatment for Alcoholism

All-cause mortality risk and cause-specific risks of hospital admission were estimated in Cox proportional hazards models with left truncation and right censoring. For all-cause mortality risk, we used age as the time-scale to estimate the effect of AUDs over lifetime with universal follow-up of the French adult population from January 1st, 2008, until death or last discharge in 2008–2012 [31]. For each cause-specific risk of hospital admission, we used similarly age as the time-scale from January 1st, 2008, until first hospital record of the disease category, death, or last discharge in 2008–2012. Alcoholism is a chronic disease because it has distinct characteristics and a progressive nature that sets it apart from simple excessive alcohol consumption. The biological characteristics of alcoholism are a major factor in its classification as a chronic disease. Just as someone with diabetes or heart disease has to choose to exercise and change to a healthy diet to control their disease, someone with addiction has to choose treatment.

Alcohol interferes with calcium balance, vitamin D production, and cortisol levels, adding to the potential weakening of bone structure. As alcohol can impair coordination, it may also increase the risk of a fall that could cause a fracture. Alcohol psychosis, also known as alcohol hallucinosis, refers to symptoms of psychosis that a person may experience during or shortly after heavy alcohol intake.

Why Alcohol Addiction Is Called a Chronic Disease

AUD treatment mirrors drug abuse treatment and likely begins with detoxification, a potentially dangerous process in which a person stops drinking and allows the substance to work itself out of the body, triggering alcohol withdrawal symptoms. The first step of treatment for AUD, or alcohol use disorder, begins with detox. This is the point when you will be cut off from alcohol use, allowing your body to eliminate the chemicals that have been building up inside of you. Staff members will assist you as you go through withdrawal symptoms. You can go to a facility that focuses only on detox before entering a treatment program or enter a program that includes both.

Is alcoholism a depressive disorder?

Can alcohol cause depression or vice versa? Research has shown that there seems to be a bidirectional relationship between alcohol use disorder (AUD) and depressive disorders. Both disorders can exist together, each disorder increases the risk for the other disorder, and each disorder can worsen the other.

Women who have alcohol use disorder may benefit from treatment with medications and behavioral therapies, and in general, discontinuation of alcohol consumption during pregnancy improves outcomes for the baby. For many people, alcohol seems inextricably linked with a social life. Friends gather for after-work drinks, spouses have cocktails together for “date nights” or some may just be in the habit of ending the day with a beer or a glass of wine—or two—or more. It can be hard to identify the lines between casual and occasional drinking and unhealthy alcohol use including alcohol use disorder.

Drinking intentions

Likewise, alcohol addiction is a disease that can sometimes be avoided through prevention strategies and educational initiatives. Like other health problems, some people take risks and develop an alcohol use disorder despite prevention measures. However, over time, as drinking becomes heavy drinking becomes alcohol abuse, the negative effects on one’s health, family relationships, romantic relationships, and finances may start to show.

alcoholism is a chronic disease

As with other chronic medical conditions, long-term care therefore is more and more becoming an integral component of treatment for AOD use disorders. In fact, with the move away from inpatient therapy to outpatient therapy for the initial phase of treatment, the lines between initial care and aftercare (continuing care) are increasingly blurring. Patients in the integrated treatment exhibited greater participation in both medical and addiction treatment as well as better alcohol use outcomes. Although further research is needed to investigate this approach, these studies indicate that extended treatment in a medical care setting may be effective for managing patients with coexisting medical problems. Several investigators have looked at extending and augmenting currently used behavioral treatment strategies to address specific subgroups of AOD-dependent patients. One group of researchers has focused on the effects of enhanced treatment for homeless people with AOD-use disorders.

Our Treatment Programs

After getting out of treatment I did everything that they told me to do. I went back to school and now I’m one semester away from finishing my Bachelor’s in social work. And then I will start my Master’s in hopes to be a therapist so I can be there for other people. The most severe form of alcohol withdrawal is known as alcohol withdrawal delirium or delirium tremens, often referred to as the DTs. Symptoms (which are typically experienced in addition to others caused by alcohol withdrawal) include delirium (confusion), high blood pressure, and agitation.

  • It may signify that your course of treatment needs to change for the time being, but that is something you should always discuss with your healthcare provider and/or therapist.
  • Additional modifications to address several limitations of the initial studies further enhanced the effectiveness of the intervention (Scott and Dennis 2009).
  • However, single items are regularly used to assess alcohol consumption intentions (e.g. [7, 46, 47]).

My habits towards alcohol consumption changed during a un-related health issue that occurred for me. After this occurred, my personal alcohol and my alcoholic consumption slowed. This was due to gastrointestinal issues stemming from a bacterial infestation of Helicobacter Pylori. The infestation of Helicobacter Pylori in my stomach has led me to terminate alcoholic consumption from my life.

Due to alcohol’s lingering effects on the brain and addiction’s stronghold, those who become sober nevertheless face a high risk of relapsing. This chronicity emphasizes the need for continuing care, monitoring, and assistance to help people effectively manage their condition. Alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction, is a chronic disease of the brain that’s characterized by compulsive decision-making, impulsive behavior and relapse. It’s triggered by genetic and environmental factors, and it causes biological changes in the brain that make abstaining from alcohol nearly impossible without medical treatment. Alcohol Use Disorder also involves some characteristics common to addiction, but not typically found with most other chronic diseases.

Is alcoholism a disease or a disorder?

Considered a brain disorder, AUD can be mild, moderate, or severe. Lasting changes in the brain caused by alcohol misuse perpetuate AUD and make individuals vulnerable to relapse.

Detox is best attempted with medical supervision within an approved treatment center. This is the point when you deny that you have any type of problem with drinking. Out of 28,953,755 adults residing in Metropolitan France with at least one hospital record in the 2008–2012 National Hospital Discharge database, we excluded 2,597,394 (9.0%) women only admitted for delivery care or abortion during the study period. Because denial is common, you may feel like you don’t have a problem with drinking.


We want to help as many people recover from the disease of addiction as possible. We are here 24 hours a day to help you detox from drugs and alcohol, so don’t hesitate to reach out for help. CDC’s Alcohol-Related Disease Impact application provides state and national estimates of deaths and years of potential life lost from excessive alcohol use. The Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System and the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System collect data on alcohol use, including binge and underage drinking.

  • In 1994, the US Department of Justice [4] stated that alcoholism and other types of addictions are not diseases but behaviors in which people engage.
  • According to the American Psychiatric Association addiction is a multiplex condition, a brain disease that manifests itself as compulsive substance use despite detrimental consequences.
  • Still, the first and most crucial step that a person can take is to acknowledge and accept that a problem is present.
  • People who binge drink are more likely to have unprotected sex and multiple sex partners.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *