The disease model of alcohol dependence or “alcoholism” is often presented as the linchpin in addressing the condition successfully. It has been argued, for example, that adopting a medical approach will reduce the stigma that impedes the provision and acceptance of treatment. However, the medical paradigm has existed for many years without significantly affecting the negative social attitudes that surround dependence.
I argue that a reductive scientific approach is not equipped to address the socioethical tensions that dependence creates.
To lessen the stigmatization of dependence, it is important to integrate ethical analysis into policy debates on the condition.Request Reprint E-Mail: Laura.Williamson@gcu.ac.uk