P5 The Disease

Alcoholism and Drug Addiction – The Disease

Definition of the Disease

Chemical Dependency is a primary, progressive, chronic, fatal disease of unknown etiology, characterized by the abuse of mood-altering chemicals (alcohol or other drugs) to the point of dysfunction in one or more areas of the person’s lifestyle. We are a chemical using society. We use chemicals:

  1. To relieve symptoms of illnesses.
  2. To relieve stress.
  3. To facilitate socialization.
  4. To feel better.

Some people develop the disease of chemical dependency.

  1. Definition of a ‘disease’ is “any deviation from a state of health with a progressive, identifiable set of symptoms.”
  2. American Medical Association defined alcoholism as a disease in 1956.
  3. Chemical dependency is a primary disease.
  1. It has its own symptoms which are identifiable across the population of its victims.
  2. It has a predictable prognosis if the addiction-prone individual continues to use chemicals.
  3. It is not a symptom of a more serious problem.

You don’t need to want help to get help!

Chemical dependency is a progressive disease.

  1. A long-term plateau of observable symptoms is not possible.
  2. The physical, emotional, and spiritual symptoms become worse when chemical use continues.
  3. The physiological tolerance for the chemical can increase or dramatically decrease even during abstinence.

Chemical dependency is a chronic disease.

  1. There is no known cure.
  2. The victim is always susceptible to pathologic chemical use even after years of abstinence.
  3. The symptoms of the disease can be arrested.
  4. The victim must abstain from using all mood-altering chemicals in order to recover. “Once a pickle, never a cucumber again.”

Chemical dependency is a fatal disease.

  1. It is a terminal illness unless the chemical use is permanently stopped.
  2. Chemical dependency deaths are often misrepresented on death certificates.
  1. Physical deterioration (heart disease, strokes, blood pressure problems, etc.)
  2. Accidents while under the influence of chemicals.
  3. Suicides.

The disease model holds that:

  1. It is not a willpower issue.
  2. No one caused the disease.
  3. The person with chemical dependency cannot return to controlled use of alcohol or drugs.
  4. Abstinence and recovery—living a comfortable and responsible life without the use of chemicals—is presently the most effective long term treatment of chemical dependency.
  5. It does respond well to specific forms of treatment.

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