Friday, October 21, 2011
Don't Call Alcoholism a Disease
Good news for the dimension of Responsibility! There are some who disagree with using the disease model to label and treat alcoholics.
Alcoholism is a serious personal and societal issue, but this article points out that calling it a disease may create other problems with the diagnosis and treatment of some individuals. The article hints at, but does not directly say, that treating it as a disease also implies limited personal involvement in overcoming the problem.
One aspect of unsatisfactory behavior in the dimension of Responsibility across our society is to look for someone or something else to blame for our problems or suffering. Claiming to be the victim of evil banks, big companies, the government, the actions of another (no matter how remote), a genetic defect, or a disease excuses us from personal responsibility, but also removes our control. It is no longer our job to fix the problem, because it was not our fault to begin with. We look to others for solutions: doctors, lawyers and juries, government regulations, or advocates. This passive approach leads to increased power for those rescuers and decreased power for us. Therein lies the danger. We are off the hook for the short term but have voluntarily diminished our choices and opportunities over the long term. This is so insidious because these delayed consequences of inaction seem less threatening at the moment, lulling us into a false sense of security.
So many things these days are getting labeled as diseases or as the result of some genetic marker in our DNA that it is refreshing to see some of the experts backing off, allowing room for personal ownership and participation. The fewer ready-made excuses the experts serve up, the better our chances of taking charge of our lives.