Considering Our Alcohol Use: The Different Models of Addiction

Considering Our Alcohol UseThe Different Models of Addiction

We began looking at why we drink. We mentioned that there are many different schools of thought regarding substance use and abuse, and it might be helpful to think about which aligns most with your own experience. Know that there is really no right answer; your path doesn’t have to look like anyone else’s, and you don’t have to ascribe to any one modality. Your recovery (or teetotaling, or alcohol-free life, or whatever you’d like to call it!) is as unique as you are.

Models of Addiction


The Self-Medication Model: This model believes that addiction is primarily driven by self-medication of unresolved traumas. This also includes using alcohol to cope with stress, anxiety, and depression, especially where pharmaceutical or therapeutic interventions would likely be more helpful. While this is certainly a factor in some substance use, it may not resonate with everyone.


The Disease Model: Currently the prevailing academic model around substance abuse, stating that addiction is a disease. There are symptoms (impaired judgement, inability to cease use, physiological impairments, etc.), an impacted organ (the brain), and a diagnosis.This model has helped many people get the medical attention that they need and has brought addiction into the public consciousness, but there are many people who do not identify with this model. Predisposition to Alcohol Use Disorder is part of the disease model, and states that the likelihood of AUD is increased in biological children of people with AUD. It is important to note that this is not deterministic: a predisposition does not mean a predestined outcome.