Is alcoholism a disease? Many people are of the opinion (whether they admit to it or not) that alcohol addiction is a choice and therefore some kind of moral deficiency rather than a disease, which couldn’t be further from the known facts and related studies done on alcohol addiction. Anyone who suffers or who has suffered from a severe drinking problem knows that this addiction has a life of its own.
Alcoholism officially qualifies as a disease primarily because the progression of is predictable. Alcohol addiction not only has also been strongly linked to a genetic predisposition, but is recognized by the medical community as a disease as defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and the World Health Organization.
Studies performed in the US, Wales, Sweden, and Australia, indicate that one of the primary causes of alcoholism is genetics (meaning the genes are inherited). In the Australian study over 6,000 twins were participants and not only was the conclusion of the study that alcoholism is genetic, but the earlier in life the person starts drinking the more likely it is that the alcohol will kick these genes into gear, causing the addiction to present itself in full force.
A person suffering with alcohol addiction for the most part will tell you that that their drinking is out of control, that they cannot stop drinking, and they know they need help. With this disease or illness comes a craving for alcohol that is all but unstoppable. Who would consciously make the choice to become an alcoholic?
The other contributors to the disease are environment, cultural, and the individual’s personality.
For example, if a person grows up in a household that promotes drinking, whether there is excessive drinking in the family or the family has a favorable view of drinking alcohol, they will be more likely to drink themselves.
In a school environment, if excessive drinking is common among a person’s friends and acquaintances and the genetic predisposition is there, the possibility of addiction is significantly increased.
Alcohol addiction has reached crisis levels in some cultures where daily drinking is prevalent and the drinking age is lower.
Within our individual personalities, those of us prone to depression and anxiety will be more apt to drink just to alleviate these symptoms. And in combination with the alcohol genetic predisposition and an environment that encourages drinking, the possibility of developing an addiction to alcohol will increase dramatically.