Disease Model Of Alcoholism Criticisms

The disease model of alcohol perceive alcohol as a disease, an aspect that provide medics with a better way to handle alcoholism. However, this is not the only way that alcoholism can be perceived. This model has attracted a wide range of critics from different scholars. Despite of its advantages, the perspective of disease model is said to be unable to effectively account for alcoholism. The model was initially employed to counter another theory that described alcoholism as a moral degradation. However, the disease model is also falling in the same critics’ path as the theory it is trying to counter. Particularly, our cultural background is highly stressing that fitness, nutrition, and health are essential values of life style. In such an environment, disease is turning to be perceived as an essential personal failure in caring for one self adequately. In this regard, alcoholism is perceived as a personal failure in caring for oneself adequately. Thus, perceiving alcoholism as a disease is increasing being interpreted as individual failure which develops guilt and a problem denial similar to what moral degradation view does. In this regard, the theory does not solve the problem it intended to address but reinforces it (Niedermayer, 1990).

The model is also said to suffer from various theoretical and logical flaws which refute its validity as a logical model and limits its alcoholism treating, identifying and researching practicality. The model tries to define alcoholism so as to establish the model objective reality. However, the model developer makes reification error by defining alcoholism as reality rather than constraining it to serve as just a term. Term reification implies that although it was initially used to refer to objectively described phenomena alcoholism has turned into an actual situation without the proof that is derived from practical observation. Actually, the model developer defined alcoholism as existence and it turns into a disease just because it was defined as so. There seems to be no other aspect that would make it be perceived as pathology.

Those that support the model are completely unable to explain the reason as to why alcoholism is regarded as a disease. The only best explanation that has been given so far is that there are various genetic and biological predisposing aspects that serve to make a part of the world population as alcoholic. This according to critics implies bring similar definition of a certain part of the world population succumbing to a disease of taking certain career since there are particular occupations and professions that carry a higher risk degree by their nature as compared to the rest of the society. According to critics, arguing that there are genetic or biological factors that determined whether one can be alcoholic or not is the same as saying there are biological or genetic factors that define high careers risk takers in the population than others.

The model theorist argues that some individuals who are abusive drinkers can be trained to control their drinking. In the argument, these individuals are regarded as heavy drinkers and not alcoholics. Differentiation of this kind according to critics permits an expedient loophole for the alcoholics that which to change their definition into mere heavy drinkers. This way they can easily manage to avoid counseling or treatment. Loophole of this kind weakens the theory. It limits the disease perspective applicability in excluding definite alcohol abuse cases by labelling them as non-alcoholic abuse. This demonstrates a high level of limitation on the use of the model (Niedermayer, 1990).


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