Site icon Maryland Addiction Recovery Center

The Disease of Alcoholism: A bit of history

Substance Abuse & Mental Health

Since 1952, alcoholism has been classified as a disease by the American Medical Association. Alcoholism and addiction are defined as a chronic, progressive, incurable illness. ASAM (the American Society of Addiction Medicine) defines addiction as the following:

“Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in an individual pathologically pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors.

Addiction is characterized by inability to consistently abstain, impairment in behavioral control, craving, diminished recognition of significant problems with one’s behaviors and interpersonal relationships, and a dysfunctional emotional response. Like other chronic diseases, addiction often involves cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.”

This understanding of alcoholism and addiction is widely known and either entirely agreed upon by experts or entirely disagreed upon. Typically, there is no middle ground. People see alcoholism and addiction as either a disease or a choice. Addicts and alcoholics are either sick or they are weak and morally corrupt. Although there are heaps of medical and scientific evidence supporting addiction and alcoholism as a chronic, progressive, ultimately fatal disease if left untreated, there are scores of people who still disagree with the disease concept. Perhaps you are one of them. If so, here are some startling facts regarding alcoholism and addiction and a bit of history that may help you look at these illnesses in a different light or a different context.


Since the late 1700’s, medical experts have known that alcoholism and addiction were diseases. Now, with heaps of scientific and medical evidence that demonstrates the effect of alcoholism and addiction on both the brain and the behavior of an individual, there is little to argue against the disease concept of addiction other than ignorance and misunderstanding of facts. Addiction and alcoholism are chronic, progressive, ultimately fatal diseases if left untreated.

If you or someone you know is suffering from a drug and alcohol addiction and needs treatment please call us for help. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive addiction treatment in the area. If we aren’t the best fit, we will work with you to find a treatment center that fits your needs. Please call us at (410) 773-0500 or email For more information on all of our alcohol and addiction treatment services and resources, please visit the web site at

Exit mobile version