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Addiction: Primary Medical Disease or Symptom of Moral Shortcomings?

by Kate
(Australia)

If we were to accept, for a moment, the disease-concept, then the only claim that could be made is that addiction is a disease. It is ridiculous to focus specifically on alcoholism, which is just one of many possible addictions.


To accept the disease-concept would mean acceptance of all addictions as the same disease (addiction), including drinking, smoking, illicit drug dependency, gambling, caffeine, sex/love, work, exercise etc.

However, there is NO substantial evidence for the disease-concept - it is not widely accepted by the medical community in the way as heart disease, cancer, diabetes etc.

In analysing the issue, it is important to understand the history of the concept. The disease-concept regained popularity following the creation of Alcoholics Anonymous. But what do AA members mean when they refer to alcoholism as a disease?

Alcoholism is not defined in AA as an excess consumption of alcohol. In fact, alcohol is considered irrelevant, and is only mentioned once in the 12 Steps. AA members believe that the core of the problem is not alcohol, but the ISM.

The ISM is characterised by feelings of being restless, irritable and discontent. It is caused by a life characterised by moral and spiritual shortcomings, and can only be relieved by finding God through the 12 Steps.

Furthermore, whilst the concept of a physical disease is appealing to some, AA doctrine aligns more with the idea of a dis-ease than a medical condition. This is compatable with the ISM-concept of being restless, irritable and discontent, only curable by God.

Either way, the alcoholism is not actually perceived by AA members as a primary medical DISEASE, rather a SYMPTOM of the ISM/dis-ease which results from an absence of God in one's daily life.

Therefore, you are left with two choices. Either wait for medical consensus as to the nature, cause and treatment of alcoholism as a primary DISEASE. Or accept the AA definition of alcoholism as a SYMPTOM of moral and spiritual shortcomings, which can only be relived one day at a time through faith.

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