Is Alcoholism a Disorder or a Disease? A Perspective for Divorcing Parents

is alcholism a disorder or a disease

By Chris Beck, Vice President of Business Development - Family Law at Soberlink

Navigating the landscape of divorce can be an emotionally taxing journey, and when combined with the complexities of alcohol addiction, the road ahead can appear even more daunting. Divorcing parents may be surprised to find that the answer to “Is alcoholism a disorder or a disease” is “both.” But this is very important: What alcoholism is not, is a moral failing.


Whether you or your co-parent struggle with alcohol abuse, it’s essential to understand its nature, especially as parents. Let’s delve into this topic while also discussing how Soberlink, a cutting-edge monitoring system, can be a supportive tool in this journey.


Is Alcoholism a Disorder or a Disease? 


Historically, alcoholism and other addictions were seen primarily as moral failings or the results of individual weakness. Today, the understanding has evolved considerably. Both the medical community and addiction specialists recognize alcoholism in two primary lights: as a disorder and as a disease.


Alcoholism as a Disorder:

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM–5), used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental conditions, refers to alcoholism as “Alcohol Use Disorder” (AUD). A disorder is typically characterized by a pattern of symptoms that cause significant impairment or distress in a person’s life. In the case of AUD, these symptoms can range from drinking more than intended, a persistent desire to cut down on drinking, or spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of alcohol.


Alcoholism as a Disease:

The term “disease” usually implies a specific pathological condition that has identifiable symptoms and affects a specific location in the body. In the 1950s, the American Medical Association (AMA) labeled alcoholism as a disease, indicating that it was no longer just a mere result of moral weakness. This perspective views alcoholism as a chronic disease, much like diabetes or hypertension. The disease model suggests that there are biological and genetic factors at play, and individuals affected by it require medical treatment and support, rather than just willpower.


Implications of Alcoholism for Divorced or Divorcing Parents


Recognizing alcohol addiction as both a disorder and a disease can significantly affect how parents undergoing separation or divorce address the issue. Here are some points to consider:


Empathy over Accusation:

Understanding alcoholism as a medical condition requires compassion. It’s not about pointing fingers but realizing that the affected parent needs medical attention and support.


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Child Safety:

While empathy is crucial, the well-being and safety of the children remain paramount. Ensure that your kids are not exposed to harmful situations, especially if a parent’s addiction has led to neglect or abusive behaviors.


Co-parenting Challenges:

Alcohol abuse can bring up concerns around custody and visitation rights. In such cases, it’s essential to have tools and systems in place to ensure the well-being of the children while maintaining a co-parenting relationship.


Soberlink Alcohol Monitoring Technology for Improved Child Safety 


For parents navigating co-parenting with concerns about alcoholism, Soberlink presents an innovative solution. It’s a sophisticated alcohol monitoring system designed to prioritize child safety in custody and visitation situations. Soberlink alcohol testing devices use facial recognition and real-time results to monitor alcohol levels, offering peace of mind to both parents. This system allows the affected parent to demonstrate their commitment to sobriety, while the other parent can feel confident about their child’s safety during visitations. 


In closing, alcohol addiction, whether viewed as a disorder or a disease, has profound implications on the individual and their family. For divorced or divorcing parents, the path can be more complex. But with understanding, empathy, and the right tools, like Soberlink, it’s possible to navigate these challenges and prioritize the well-being of the children involved.


When addressing alcoholism, remember it’s not about blame. It’s about understanding, treatment, and finding the best solutions for the family as a whole. And in this journey, knowledge and innovative tools can make all the difference.


Chris Beck

Chris Beck is the Vice President of Business Development – Family Law for Soberlink.

Like this article? Check out, “Advice for a Woman Divorcing an Alcoholic”


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