Paper Example: The Rebirth of the Disease Concept of Alcoholism

Published: 2023-01-19
Paper Example: The Rebirth of the Disease Concept of Alcoholism
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Medicine Pharmacology Substance abuse Drug abuse
Pages: 3
Wordcount: 674 words
6 min read

The first record of alcoholism concept disease from the article is in the 18th Century. The disease concept went through the 20th Century, and the report depicts its hibernation, reemergence, and commercialization. William L White wrote the article titled the Rebirth of the disease concept in the 20th Century, and this paper summarizes the item and also gives a philosophical view of the current philosophy of disease and addiction. The drug problem has always been a significant problem in the US, but many medical practitioners throughout the 20th Century were struggling with how to classify the addiction problem, especially alcohol addiction (White, 2000).

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William White, in his article, states that in the transition period from the 19th to 20th Century, the disease concept was swept away, especially in the dormancy period of 1900 to 1942. The focus in this period diverted towards those who profited from the illegal sale of these drugs that were causing addiction problems to the users. It was different from the first view that focused on the effects these drugs had on the individual. It is during this period of transition that changes in federal and state laws addressed the addicting problem; for example, the Harrison act of 1914 (White, 2000).

The Harrison act of 1914 had placed the responsibility of drug abuse care on the physicians, but the subsequent decision by the Supreme Court gave it to the drug cartel syndicate, which received resistance from many physicians. The physicians were of the view that the disease was treatable, but the ground definition diminished these views as a result of the Supreme Court decision from the perspective of an addict as a person suffering from a curable disease to that of a psychopath suffering because of his bad behavior. The metaphors used in the 20th Century gave the view of an addict as a person who is a danger to the community. By the early 1920s, drug addiction viewed as a disease was quickly fading away (White, 2000).

Organizations such as Alcoholics Anonymous did not originate nor promulgate the disease concept of alcoholism. Alcoholics anonymous aim was to help alcoholics and not to contribute to the debate about whether addiction was a disease or not. From 1942 to 1970, the concept of illness as an epidemic begins with organizations such as the Research Council on the Problems of Alcohol contributing significantly. The campaign was advanced by Marti Mann who founded NCEA in 1944 with the aim of changing the American conception of alcoholism. The period from 1970 to 2000 was that of concept extension and backlash. The alcoholism movement was achieving most of its goals. The growth of treatment programs impacted society but was not without backlash. The end of the 20th Century came without an agreement on whether to treat alcohol addiction and other addictions as diseases or not (White, 2000).

Current Philosophy of the Disease

James R McKay argued in his article that alcoholism is a treatable chronic disease, and thus, it should be given consideration as a disease rather than a product of deviant behavior. He argued in his article titled Treating alcoholism as a chronic disease that Alcoholism requires constant long-term care that must include at some point, a pharmacological intervention. According to public health practitioners, adopting the medical view of alcoholism as a disease can help reduce the stigma and improve in the treatment process with those affected having the hope that one day they will be cured (McKay and Hiller-Sturmhofel, 2011).


Alcoholism should be viewed as a disease and not as a bad behavior problem. It helps in the treatment process because even hoe government agencies can provide the required resources. There is a medical solution to the problem of addiction, which includes even drugs produced by pharmacological industries. It is a clear indication that alcoholism and other drug addictions are qualified to be categorized as a disease.


McKay, J. R., & Hiller-Sturmhofel, S., (2011). Treating alcoholism as a chronic disease: approaches to long-term continuing care. Alcohol Research & Health, 33(4), 356.

White, W., (2000). The rebirth of the disease concept of alcoholism in the 20th Century. The Counselor, 1(2), 62-66.

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