Health & Fitness

Fighting Addiction: Is Alcoholism a Disease or Choice?

As of 2018, 14.4 million adults have alcohol use disorder or AUD. For those that don’t have AUD, it’s hard to believe that the act of drinking is a disease and not a choice.

This is because it’s an addiction that alcoholics are dealing with. But not everyone feels this way; some people still claim that addicts chose the addiction.

Is alcoholism a disease? Keep reading to learn why the answer is yes.

Is Alcoholism a Disease?

Alcoholism is an addiction. When someone becomes addicted to alcohol, it’s the result of three things coming together, behavioral, environmental, and genetics.

The human brain is naturally wired to seek out positive and rewarding experiences. When you find a pleasant experience, the brain releases dopamine. This encourages people to repeat the behavior that released dopamine.

Unfortunately, there’s a diminishing effect that happens. So if someone wants to continue to feel the same positive experience, they need to escalate their behaviors.


Alcoholism happens because the act of drinking releases dopamine in the drinker’s brain. The alcoholic continues to drink more and more, chasing that good feeling.

This is further complicated by the fact that most addicts have fewer dopamine receptors in the brain than the average person. This means that they can’t experience pleasure at the same level as the average person.

An addict will try to seek out other ways to experience pleasure to fill the void.

Brain Structure

When alcohol abuse advances, the brain begins to change. The prefrontal cortex will literally shrink in size. This is the part of the brain that handles rational thinking.

Without the ability to make informed and rational decisions, addicts lose their ability to reason and decide why they should stop using alcohol. No one actively decides to shrink the critical thinking part of their brain.

Mental Health

Many people who become addicted to alcohol have underlying mental health issues. Turning to alcohol is a way of managing and self-medicating. Over time, these people’s brains become so altered they no longer have the ability to make a choice when it comes to alcohol.

Recovery and Healing Is a Choice

You don’t have to accept alcoholism as your future. You can choose your future and decide to get help through inpatient drug rehab. This is a lifelong commitment to abstinence.

Look for a treatment facility that understands the addiction is a disease that needs treatment. The best facilities will offer a variety of therapies and programs. This enables them to tailor your treatment to you, which is the best way to set you up for success.

Get Help Today

If you suffer from AUD, you have options. You no longer need to ask, is alcoholism a disease? The answer is yes, and you can get help.

By recognizing that you’re fighting nature, you can find the right treatment center for your needs. They can help you address your addiction and live a sober life.

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