The alcoholism disease is a deviation from or interruption of the normal structure or function of any body part, organ, or system. A disease is manifested by a characteristic set of symptoms and signs whose etiology, pathology, and prognosis may be known or unknown.
Another definition of disease is a pathological condition of a part, organ, or system of an organism resulting from various causes, such as infection, genetic defect, or environmental stress. A disease is characterized by an identifiable group of signs or symptoms.
Whether or not alcoholism is a disease is a heated debate but the evidence is clear.
GENES AND BRAIN SCIENCE
The CYP2E1 gene is linked to sensitivity to alcohol. The manipulation of this gene may be very helpful in the field of alcohol treatment. Read about it here.
Alcohol affects neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are crucial to brain processes, mood and behavior patterns. Happiness is directly related to one of these neurotransmitters, Serotonin. Neurotransmitters affect mental health. Addiction treatment and alcohol treatment should take into consideration meditation treatment to help with a neurotransmitter imbalance. Read more about the effects of alcohol on Serotonin here.
3. Researchers focused on an area of the brain that is involved in alcohol relapse. This area is called the nucleus accumbens (NAcb) core and it drives motivated, goal-directed behaviors. Researchers studying a new drug that could help prevent alcohol relapse, Chlorzoxazone, found increased excitability in the NAcb core facilitates motivation to seek alcohol after abstinence. Read more about it here.
THE STIGMA OF ALCOHOLISM
Despite overwhelming evidence supporting the effect of alcohol on the brain, we are skeptical. We tend to say things like “Why can’t you just put it down?!” “Why can’t you just quit?” “What’s wrong with you?”
The disease model of addiction does not imply that we are powerless and incapable of recovery, nor does it excuse alcoholism. Informed treatment can help outsmart the disease. Typically, information helps us be less judgmental and more accepting. When it comes to alcoholism, it doesn’t.
The disease model implies that there are biological, psychological and social factors that determine the course of the disease and recovery, similar to obesity or diabetes. Biological predisposition, psychological make-up and societal influences combined may lead to alcoholism.
Ultimately, we can all come together to help each other live healthier, happier lives.