Is 'disease model' an appropriate term to describe the alcohol dependence syndrome?
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Caetano (Concepts of alcohol dependence: the two worlds of research and treatment. Alcohol and Alcoholism 23, 225-227, 1988) has suggested that in the U.S.A. opposition from the disease model has been the main reason for the limited application of the alcohol dependence syndrome. In Britain, the charge that the syndrome is a poorly disguised version of the disease model has had a similar effect. This paper describes the main features of the crude biomedical disease model, which critics equate with the alcohol dependence syndrome. It is concluded that the alcohol dependence syndrome does not conform to this, in that it is not presented by its proponents as a discrete entity identified by a core psycho-biological pathology and carries no built-in assumptions about causal processes. It is argued that instead of setting-up and championing competing all-embracing conceptual models, both clinicians and researchers should be flexible and imaginative in their use of concepts.
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