Defining Alcoholism-a disorder, disease or condition?

Is Alcoholism A “Disease,” A “Disorder,” A “Condition,” Or None Of The Above?

Alcoholism is the inability to control alcohol usage because of both physical and emotional alcohol dependence. It is characterized by frequent consumption of alcohol, despite associated legal and health concerns. The victims know that they are not supposed to take excessive alcohol, but they do as it is part and parcel of their daily lives. Those with alcoholism may start with a drink every day, feel guilty about their drinking, and have the desire to reduce the amount of alcohol. Treatment involves a health care professional’s counseling. A hospital or treatment center detoxification plan is a choice for those who need additional aid(Ringold et al. 2100). In addition, some may need to be admitted to the psychiatric unit or even medical groups for intensive management before they can undergo counseling and rehabilitation. There are medicines available that reduce your desire to drink, but is alcoholism a disease?

A disease is an illness that negatively affects a part of or more or all of the organism’s structure or function and does not result from immediate external injury. The disease can be due to infection or just the development of abnormalities in the cell function. For example, for the cancers, the condition is normally due to abnormal and uncontrolled cellular division. Therefore, a disease is a pathology that develops, making the tissues, or just part of the body not to undergo the normal physiology. Medical conditions are commonly known to be diseases associated with specific symptoms and signs. External immune system dysfunctions can cause severalstates, including various types of immunodeficiency, hypersensitivity, allergies, and autoimmune disorders(Bloom & Cadarette 54). In other words,a disease is a pathological or functional condition of a person, animal, or plant that causes or produces specific symptoms that do not result from physical injury; therefore, a disease is not a direct illness.

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Bothalcoholism and disease have similarities,referring to alcoholism as a disease. For instance, both alcoholism and disease cause illness, for example, addiction caused by alcoholism. On their own, alcoholism and illness cannot directly affect a person’s body structure(Rehm 135). However, alcoholism has been associated with fatal medical conditions. Acute pancreatitis, which is inflammation of the pancreas, has been associated with binge alcohol drinking. In addition, liver cirrhosis is known to be caused by many factors, one of which being alcohol. That is why many physicians will request their patients who are alcoholics to stop taking drinks due to the problem. Liver cirrhosis can progress to liver cancer, which is called hepatocellular carcinoma.

Additionally, alcoholism leads to depletion of vitamins in the body, especially vitamin B complex. The existence of either or both of them in a person cannot be evident until there are visible signs and symptoms caused by them. However, alcoholism is a result of using alcohol while a disease is as a result of many factors; therefore, addiction is not a disease.

On the other hand, one may describe a disorder as a set of problems that cause significant difficulty, pain, impairment, and misery in everyday life of a person. When you look at the diseases in detail, they are physical or mental conditions that disturb daily activities and can take much time and complicate a person’s regular operation. According to the flexibility of the disorders, they may not always be apparent in any case, and what affects one person in the same situation may not be as distressing to another(Bloom &Cadarette 55).The most common disorder among alcoholics is alcohol withdrawal syndrome. It is recognized and listed in the DSM V; hence it is managed by psychiatrists and clinical psychologists in addition to physicians. In this disorder, the patient feels sick if they are not intoxicated with alcohol. They cannot function well, both physically and mentally.

Similarly, the disorder can be chronic, reoccurring, and reminding ( It is not uncommon for symptoms to wax and diminish over time and grow into a roller coaster of increasing intensity, for example, at work, college, or in relationships.Therefore, a disorder is a very flexible and individual term.

Having discussed what a disorder is, we go ahead to evaluating whether alcoholism and disease are the same. First, the effect of addiction on the human body is evident due to its impact on the human brain. Excessive drinking may cause severe damage to the human brain lowering the functionality of a person. In fact, taking alcohol for a long time leads to what is called early brain atrophy which is basically lack of adequate regeneration of brain cells( However,using behavioral therapy and medication to treat this effect can reduce the desire to use alcohol. One has first to ensure that the patient is alcohol-free before any form of therapy is initiated. For alcoholism, a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy and group therapy has been shown to have better outcomes.

Similarly, a disorder causes malfunction of the human body in different ways, leading signs and symptoms of illness in a person. Like alcoholism, a disorder is treatable through psychotherapy(Roberge et al. 146). Therefore, we conclude by saying that although there is a similarity of the outcome, the source is different, and so, alcoholism is not a disorder.

Finally, a condition is a factor affecting the way people live or work, particularly in terms of their well-being. It exists before something else is possible and has a significant influence on the outcome. In the welfare of a person, a condition can be evident through signs and symptoms of a pre-determined disease. One can use the observable condition to come up with a conclusion that one needs to take a particular action before hell break lose. For example, consuming contaminated food or water is a condition that one will get infected with typhoid( Therefore, the existence of a condition can state the occurrence of a pre-determined outcome.

Can alcoholism be a condition? As discussed above in paragraph one, addiction is the lack of control of drinking alcohol. Different people use alcohol for a different reason, with the common goal being to relieve stress. Using alcohol becomes a habit with time, and so the purpose changes from distressing to being alcohol dependent, to addiction(Foster & Ferguson 356). During addiction, one develops physical and mental health problems and poor eating habits, which are the pre-determined outcome of alcoholism. In its definition, alcoholism is independent of a condition. However, addiction can lead to conditions and disorders, as eluded in the discussion earlier. That excessive alcohol intake that makes one dependent on alcohol is itself a condition or what is known as a syndrome, that is, alcohol withdrawal syndrome(

In conclusion, it is essential to distinguish between a spade and a spoon. Having the same shape doesn’t qualify to call a spade a big spoon, and therefore, with the existence of similarity between alcoholism, disease, disorder, and a condition doesn’t qualify to say that addiction is or can be a disease, a disorder, or a condition.

 Work Cited

Bloom, David E., and Daniel Cadarette. “Infectious Disease Threats in the Twenty-First Century: Strengthening the Global Response.” Frontiers in Immunology, vol. 10, Mar. 2019. PubMed Central, doi:10.3389/fimmu.2019.00549.

Foster, John H., and Colin S. Ferguson. “Home drinking in the UK: trends and causes.” Alcohol and alcoholism 47.3 (2012): 355-358.

International Journal of Rare Diseases and Disorders | Clinmed International Library. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Psychiatric Disorders | List of High Impact Articles | PPts | Journals | Videos. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Rehm, Jürgen. “The Risks Associated With Alcohol Use and Alcoholism.” Alcohol Research & Health, vol. 34, no. 2, 2011, pp. 135–43.

Ringold, Sarah, et al. “Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.” JAMA, vol. 295, no. 17, May 2006, pp. 2100–2100., doi:10.1001/jama.295.17.2100.

Roberge, Pasquale, et al. “Generalized Anxiety Disorder in Primary Care: Mental Health Services Use and Treatment Adequacy.” BMC Family Practice, vol. 16, no. 1, Oct. 2015, p. 146. BioMed Central, doi:10.1186/s12875-015-0358-y.

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