Quote of the day: ALCOHOLISM

August 1, 2012

ALCOHOLISM

It is certainly true that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders [DSM] overpathologizes the human condition and that psychiatrists and other mental-health professionals may feel obligated to diagnose a patient with something. There is one diagnosis in the DSM, however, that is not given often enough, due to the biases of the clinicians, patients, and insurance and pharmaceutical companies. That diagnosis is alcohol abuse. Other diagnoses, such as depression, anxiety disorder, social phobia, or bipolar disorder, are often given to patients along with the message that they are abusing alcohol to “self-medicate” for their underlying condition. In my opinion the opposite is more often true: The real underlying condition is alcoholism, and the symptoms presented by the patients are largely a response to alcohol abuse – and, to a lesser extent, drug abuse.

I believe that this problem is more deeply entrenched in our society than we like to acknowledge, and it often ends up in the lap of mental-health professionals, masquerading as anything other than itself.

— Stephen Pittelli, MD, letter to the editor in The Sun


2 Responses to “Quote of the day: ALCOHOLISM”

  1. Laura Smart Says:

    I completely agree. Alcoholism is such a nasty word (I’m an alcoholic and I hate the word), doctors rarely bring it up and even if the patient brings up alcohol issues doctors seem to not want to talk about it, or they minimize the importance of it. I one time told a doctor who was trying to prescribe me narcotic pain meds that I can’t take them due to I will abuse them and he said “well then just don’t abuse them.” There is a disconnect between doctor and patient when addressing alcohol issues/conditions and I’m not sure if it isn’t partly due to doctors have alcohol issues either themselves or someone in their family and it hits too close to home? I’m not sure, but I do know that discussing alcohol abuse, alcoholism, addiction, ETC. needs to be an ongoing public discussion because so many people are effected by it.

    • dshewey Says:

      thanks for your comment, Laura. my partner and I just spent time in Colorado with our respective families, where there was about the same amount of drinking going on, and he remarked at how unusual and noteworthy it was to him that my family actually talks about issues of drinking and alcoholism openly, which his family does only in private conversations.


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