Is Alcoholism an Addiction or Illness

Is Alcoholism an Addiction or Illness?

Defining alcoholism has been torn between addiction or disease. First addiction is a “treatable, chronic medical disease…People suffering from addiction rely on substances, involve in compulsive habits, and continue despite harmful consequences.” (ASAM, 2019). Those who subscribe to the addiction portray alcoholism as the severest form of alcohol use disorders. Amid these two viewpoints, alcoholism attestable a medical condition owing to being diagnosable, have symptoms, an effect on the brain, and its treatment.

Noteworthy, the effect of alcoholism on the brain qualifies it as a disease. Alcohol is a substance that sedates the central nervous system, and consequently, the brain and body. Alcohol kills brain cells, known as neurotransmitters (Heather, 2017). Such changes in the brain lead to a yearning for more pleasure from alcohol, and ultimately addiction affects the whole body. As such, the tendency becomes uncontrollable, carrying along with symptoms and calling for medical attention.

Just like any other disease, alcoholism evidenced in various signs and symptoms. The condition can be mild to severe, depending on the symptoms. The most typical symptoms include cravings to drink, increased resistance to quitting, increased consumption of alcohol, and withdrawal symptoms like anxiety, nausea, and rapid sweating. These signs and symptoms are suggestive of illness and thus point to alcoholism as a disease.

Lastly, alcohol has its treatment through medical intervention. This therapy involves a set of procedures from detoxification to management practices for controlling and avoiding relapses which render alcoholism a chronic illness (Alcohol Organization, 2019). Medical assistance to remove toxins from the body, behavior therapy, nutritional, and physical fitness in a bid to stay alcohol-free. These clinical interventions show that alcoholism is a disease that can be managed and cured.

Conclusively, alcoholism fits in the disease model of addiction. It’s a case example of the neurobiology of addiction since the substance attacks the brain, and spread the effects to the whole body.


ASAM (2019). Definition of Addiction. Retrieved February 1, 2020, from
Heather, N. (2017). Q: Is Addiction a Brain Disease or a Moral Failing? A: Neither. Neuroethics 10, pp.115–124.
Alcohol Organization (2019). Is Alcoholism a Curable Disease? Retrieved February 1, 2020, from

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