Is alcoholism a disease? The research suggests so. Let’s take a closer look below.
According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, alcoholism is a chronic disease that has an impact on various parts and functions of the brain. Long-term drinking can alter the brain’s natural balance of reward, memory, and motivation. Once these and other functions of the brain are damaged, other mental disorders soon follow.
Many people suffer from addiction, anxiety, trauma, psychosis, hallucinations, lack of motivation, isolation, and other intense emotional and mental conditions. Furthermore, like any other chronic disease, there is no cure for alcoholism. However, there is treatment available to help clients overcome the symptoms.
The Neurobiology of Addiction
Is alcoholism a disease? The U.S. Surgeon General’s Report.
The U.S. Surgeon General released a comprehensive report on addiction entitled, Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol Drugs, and Health”. A section entitled “The Neurobiology of Substance Use, Misuse, and Addiction” outlines how alcohol changes brain function.
Furthermore, the report discusses the relationship between addiction and the brain’s increased dependency on alcohol over time. Once the brain gets hooked on alcohol, it may become increasingly difficult for an individual to say no to the substance. The hardest brain patterns to break involve pleasure, self-control, relearning new patterns, stress, and other mental disorders that alcoholism may cause.
The Risk of Relapse in Alcoholism
Is alcoholism a disease? Like other diseases, there is always a risk of relapse.
“Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic,” has become somewhat of a tagline in the addiction treatment community. However, it represents a real problem that can potentially occur during recovery from addiction: relapse. Once a person completes treatment for alcohol, they may go back to drinking.
Currently, the relapse rate for alcoholism is 40 to 60 percent. This is a high number compared to other types of diseases that have similar or lower relapse rates. Keep in mind that these alcoholism relapse rates occur with people who have already completed a treatment program at least once.
Treatment for Alcoholism
Is alcoholism a disease? Treatment for alcoholism is similar to treatment for other diseases.
There are several ways in which treatment for alcoholism is similar to treatment for other diseases such as:
- The need for medication to reduce withdrawal symptoms and cravings
- Avoiding triggers or relapse through healthier living
- Nutritional support to keep the mind and body strong
- Dual diagnosis for co-occurring disorders
- Follow up visits and continued treatment
Overall, the approach to treating alcoholism is the same as treating numerous other medical conditions. Professional care includes medication, therapy, lifestyle changes, integrated approaches, and follow-up treatment.
Is Alcoholism a Disease? Learn More at Northern Illinois Recovery Center
Are you currently addicted to alcohol and wondering if alcoholism is a disease? We can help. Northern Illinois Recovery Center offers complete detox for alcohol addiction. We can help you take the first step to recovery. To find out more, call us at 855.786.1978. We can answer your questions and discuss your treatment options.