Wednesday, April 2, 2008

from Psychology Today

a very informative article about the disease concept, and how
it may contribute to relapse.
it is refreshing to read a new outlook on an outmoded concept.
I have always been skeptical about the whole disease model.

Viewing alcoholism as a disease may contribute to relapse.


Recovery programs have long promoted the "disease model" of alcoholism--the idea that some people have a medical condition that does not allow them to drink without losing control. One alcohol-abuse expert has found that belief in this model may actually hamper efforts to quit drinking.

William Miller, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of New Mexico and a researcher at its Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse, and Addictions (CASAA), studied 122 people enrolled in the center to find out what predicted relapse into alcohol use. Negative mood, intense and frequent cravings, and lack of motivation to change all qualified--but one of the strongest predictors was whether people thought of alcoholism as an illness.

It may not be belief in the disease model that causes relapse, says Miller, but the reverse: people who find abstinence difficult to maintain may take comfort in attributing their lapses to an illness they can't control. Although research supports the idea of an inherited vulnerability to alcoholism, Miller contends that the "the disease model, in the way that Americans usually think about it, is not scientifically validated."

At CASAA, excessive drinking is viewed as a learned behavior that can be changed, especially by improving coping and social skills. In Miller's study, for example, the number of negative life events an alcoholic experienced was less important to his prognosis than how he dealt with them: active coping styles and positive thinking were associated with staying sober, while the tendency to avoid or ignore problems was linked to a return to the bottle.

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Shadow said...

of course positive reinforcement works. and you have to move on, live again, become the 'new' you. i see it as a progressive bad habit, as something i'm allergic to, something i can control but never overcome... but different things work for different people, no-one's the same.

Kathy Lynne said...

I do believe I have a disease and understanding that is what helped me to eliminate the "moral issue" that blocked me from seeking help. That said, it does bother me when people say, my disease did this or my disease did that. The disease doesn't do anything but except create a compulsion when triggered by the first drink.

Fireman John said...

Kathy,i agree with your view that people cop out with;"the disease made me do it", but the whole disease concept is flawed. how can we suffer from a disease whose only cure is abstainance?
Alcoholism meets none of the criteria for an actual illness.