The Disease Model of Alcoholism Revisited: Why People Drink

Daryle Niedermayer, B.A., B.Sc., M.Div.

This unpublished paper was originally written in April 1987 and edited in September 1990.

The view of alcoholism currently boasting wide acceptance is the disease model approach. This approach views alcohol as a disease of the individual and is widely supported by the medical community. However, this may not be the best paradigm to use in understanding the effects of this problem. In this paper, a number of issues will be discussed. Initially a critique of the disease perspective will be offered. A more detailed and operational definition of alcoholism will be proposed and a new paradigm that incorporates the details and features of alcoholism ignored by the disease model will be suggested. This is an ambitious undertaking to be sure, but a necessary one.