While many advocate for its benefits, the disease concept has proven to be far more damaging to the substance abuser then anyone could have predicted.
Therapists claim the disease concept helps the patient to understand the seriousness of [his/her] problems.
But in reality, this idea has backfired.
The disease concept strips the substance abuser of responsibility. A disease cannot be cured by force of will, therefore, adding the medical label transfers the responsibility from the abuser to others. Inevitably they become unwilling victims, and inevitably they take on that role.
In retrospect then, the disease concept has effectively increased alcoholism and drug abuse. Furthermore, its only benefit has been vast monetary reward for the professionals’ and governmental agencies responsible for providing recovery services. Specifically, it has not offered a solution for those attempting to stop abusive alcohol and drug use.
Further, it is beyond the grasp of logic for medical professionals to prescribe meeting attendance as a remedy for an “incurable” medical ailment, not to mention a contradiction to the supposed nature of the problem.
Medical professionals are admittedly incapable of helping drug addicts and alcoholics so they pass the buck. But, because of recidivism rates and treatment failure, the buck is passed right back.
The disease, as described by 12 steppers, is all powerful; it is a separate entity and without meetings it will destroy them. But, with some thought one realizes, these ideas are mutually exclusive. To point out the obvious, if someone is “powerless” they would, by definition, not be able to control themselves, not even one day at a time.
The absurdities do not stop with 12 Step groups; professionals contribute their own set of absurdities. For example, the AMA’s definition of alcoholism is: “Alcoholism is an illness characterized by preoccupation with alcohol and loss of control over its consumption, such as to lead usually to intoxication if drinking; by chronicity, by progression and by a tendency toward relapse.
It is typically associated with physical disability and impaired emotional, occupational and/or social adjustments as a direct consequence of persistent excessive use (Langone 27).”
A natural assumption would be that the classification of a disease requires that characteristics and symptoms can be measured or observed.
While the majority of diseases fit this requirement, substance abuse does not.