Disease — a pathological condition resulting from various causes and characterized by
identifiable signs and/or symptoms.

Certainly alcoholism is pathological (sick-making). Its signs and symptoms are taught to medical
students around the world, and have been for centuries. Alcoholism likely results from an
interaction of genetics and environmental factors – although there’s still plenty of debate about
the relative influence of each.

Obviously, nobody sets out to become addicted to alcohol. And the vast majority of drinkers do
not. The mystery isn’t just why some developed alcoholism – it’s why the rest didn’t.

An advantage of classifying alcoholism as a disease is to permit healthcare professionals to
provide treatment to alcoholics. Given the wide array of physical and psychological problems
found among alcoholics, that’s just good common sense.


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