The disease theory of addiction. For most of our history people believed that alcoholics were weak willed or simply morally bad people. They looked down on the alcoholic as someone who lacked self control, someone who must be morally compromised because all they want to do is sit around and drink all day. This was alcoholism has traditionally been viewed in the past.

Humans are obviously not perfect; everyone will have their flaws and weaknesses. It is only when these imperfections lead to suffering that there is a real cause for concern. Most people will have many minor character defects, and a few major ones. It will be these major flaws that will cause them the most problems in life.

Maryam-Shah2Maryam Shah has completed her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Foundation University. She has also done Post Graduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology from Fauji Foundation University. Her research work includes Impact of body image on self esteem of adolescence and another research was on Perception of society from an eye of an addict.

Editor: Samreen Masud

According to Dr. Sadaqat Ali, project director willing ways, drinking per se is not a defect of character, but it can be harmful especially when it is mindless too. There is nothing strange about it. Even eating can be harmful when it’s mindless.

Recently, numerous media sources have implied that "addicts" ought to make better choices; addiction science cautions that is not always possible. Describing addiction as a reflection of moral character and choice takes us back to an earlier, more ignorant time. Science now shows that addiction, including alcoholism, is not a simple phenomenon. It stems from multiple causes rather than character flaws.


Many of us as medical professionals use a medical model to understand addiction. Drugs, alcohol, and illicit substances activate reward systems in the brain, which cause people to feel pleasure and create memories. Each individual has a unique tolerance to drugs and alcohol; the effects of drugs and/or alcohol are individually specific. Individuals may have genetic predispositions and different brain inhibitory circuits. Addiction is a disease, just like asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

There is a big difference between knowing that something is a disease and actually treating it as one.