May 23, 2008
Alcoholism – Definition
Alcoholic drinks date back thousands of years. Although no one quite knows of their original discovery, it seems likely that they have been a part of history since the beginning. Magnus Huss first coined the word ‚??alcoholism‚?Ě in 1849, being the first to classify the systematic damage that was attributable
The word ‚??alcoholism‚?Ě came to be recognized in the United States with the founding and growth of a support group in 1939 called Alcoholics Anonymous, or ‚??AA.‚?? Alcoholics Anonymous
does not place a definition on alcoholism, but compares it to an allergy and an illness, focusing on a team support method of accountability and responsibility.
E. Morton Jellinek, a doctor from New England, was the first to classify problems seen in chronic alcoholics. Jellinek‚??s definition of the alcoholic stated: ‚??Alcoholics are those excessive drinkers
whose dependence on alcohol has attained such a degree that it shows notable disturbance or an interference with their bodily and mental health, their personal relationships and smooth economic functioning or who show signs of such a development.
They therefore need treatment.‚?? This definition has seen many changes over the years by different medical affiliations. The American Medical Association currently uses the word alcoholism to refer to a particular chronic primary disease. Some minorities in the medical field, such as Herbert Fingarette and Stanton Peele, argue against alcoholism being considered a disease. But, critics of the disease theory acknowledge that the word “alcoholism” refers to a disease, and use the term “heavy drinking” when discussing the harmful effects of alcohol consumption.
With alcoholism’s uncertain definition, the disease is often hard to accurately detect. There is no physical or mental difference between someone who drinks habitually and an alcoholic.