Why is Alcoholism Considered a Chronic Disease?

Why is Alcoholism Considered a Chronic Disease?

Although many of us think of alcoholism as “just a bad habit,” it is proven to be a chronic physical disease as well as a mental disorder. This fact puts alcohol addiction in a new light and helps to find better ways to treat it. Here we have discussed why alcohol abuse is a chronic disease with the mention of trusted sources:


Consumption of alcohol at uncontrollable excessive levels is considered alcoholism. Individuals who suffer from alcohol addiction find it hard to manage their drinking. Alcoholism can be in mild to severe stages and the difficulties of treating it relate to the severity.


Over 14.5 million people in the US suffer from alcohol use disorder. Here are the signs of alcoholism as a disease:

Alcoholism is a major issue in the US and it affects people personally and socially. Many of us have a tendency of blaming this issue on addicted people but it should be realized that it is a mental and physical issue.

Definition of Chronic Disease

Before understanding alcoholism as a chronic disease, we must understand the definition of chronic diseases and what differs them from regular diseases. The simplest definition is diseased which doesn’t just go away and lasts three months or more. It is complicated to cure these diseases with medicines only.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that six out of ten people in the US suffer from at least one chronic disease. This number is huge and is caused by various factors. CDC’s research also shows that chronic diseases are the top reason for disability and even death in the United States.


In short, chronic diseases are conditions that are hard to cure with only medication, and these conditions may last for a long time. However, with proper medication and lifestyle, it can be managed and even treated. Progressive alcoholism sounds familiar with the definition of chronic disease as it starts as something harmless and ends up being a life-changing problem that becomes complicated to control and even harder to cure.

The Facts

Chronic diseases and alcoholism share similar symptoms. The following information from George Washington University Medical Center gives an in-depth understanding of the relation:

Why is Alcoholism a Chronic Disease

There are enough reasons why alcoholism is considered a chronic disease. Some of them are:


Genetics: Genetics is a reason for alcohol use disorder amongst 40-60% of the people with alcoholism. Just like diabetes and heart diseases that can run in a family, alcoholism can be affected by genetics. So, if you have an ancestor or family member who has alcohol addiction, you may be prone to alcoholism and more like to develop it compared to others.


Environmental Factors: Like diabetes, along with genetics, environmental factors play a big role in alcohol addiction. The availability of alcohol, the acceptance of alcohol usage in your family or friend group, and many other similar factors let you develop an addiction.


Relapse: Like other chronic diseases, relapse is possible during the treatment of alcoholism. Proper treatment and management are essential for treating it, otherwise, relapse can make it worse.


No Definite Cure: Just like most other chronic diseases, alcoholism does not have a cure. It has to be managed with medication and lifestyle changes. You cannot just stop using alcohol right away because it may cause many withdrawal symptoms.


Since alcoholism is such a complicated chronic disease, treating it can be hard. That’s why it requires medication and lifestyle changes. It is best to be under supervision during the treatment of alcohol use disorder. In case you are suffering or you know someone who is addicted, you can get help from Retreat of Atlanta or a quality rehab facility in your state to find the best treatment.


According to The American Psychiatric Association, alcoholism is considered a disease. It is also called the modern disease theory of alcoholism. Alcoholism is often a result of genetics and the environment. AMA also counts alcoholism as a disease under both medical and psychiatric sections. Some can develop alcoholism without any genetic involvement. Such addiction can also start from the availability of liquor and mental conditions.

The chronicity of diseases makes them harder to cure. Alcoholism, being a chronic disease, can also be complicated to resolve. However, it is not impossible. If you have an alcohol addiction and want to quit suddenly, it may cause issues like anxiety, mood swings, high blood pressure, etc. That’s why slow detoxification with the help of certified individuals or rehab is the best way to treat alcohol addiction.

Along with physical dependence on alcohol, alcoholism becomes a mental illness and develops psychological dependence. Moreover, American Medical Association counts alcoholism as a disease under both medical and psychiatric sections. Adding to that, some mental illnesses can facilitate addiction and even be the reason to begin the addiction.


Being a chronic disease, treating alcoholism could be a hard and complicated process. That’s why if you or someone you know is suffering from alcohol addiction, know that it will take time and a lot of effort to recover. However, it is best to start the process of recovery and detoxification as soon as you can!

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