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Abstract

The perception of alcoholism and other substance abuse disorders as disease entities is a view ardently defended not only among chemical dependency professionals but, increasingly, by the general public as well. Over the past two decades, this perspective has also become so ensconced within the addiction treatment industry that alternative interventions are almost nonexistent even though evidence of their effectiveness is available (Miller & Hester, 1989). And yet, "no leading research authorities accept the classic disease concept" (Fingarette, 1988, p. 3). Competing views are generally characterized as irresponsible, and their sponsors summarily dismissed as dangerously uninformed by disease view proponents or accused of being in "denial" themselves (Kasl, 1992, Peele, 1989; Trimpey, 1989). In addition, public polls have revealed that Americans have increasingly subscribed to the addictive disease theory over the years. In the 1946-1955 gallup polls, 20% indicated that alcoholism was a disease. By 1982, that response had risen to 80% (Gallup, 1987).

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