Alcohol abuse not a personal choice

Published: July 6, 2013

“Health care proposal due thorough critique” (Our Views, June 30) said that the Leavitt Partners health care report notes that “the target population of uninsured has higher rates of smoking, heavy drinking and obesity, and ‘a higher prevalence of serious mental illness, serious psychological distress, and substance use disorders' than Oklahoma's current Medicaid population. In short, potential beneficiaries will generate far higher health costs, paid by their neighbors' taxes, to treat conditions that are largely the result of personal choices.”

The American Medical Association recognized alcoholism as a disease in 1952. A disease is a condition that has a history, physical findings and known outcomes if no treatment is given. Addiction is a true disease with neurochemical alterations in the brain, genetic predisposition and environmental factors. The outcomes without treatment are well known to the public.

One of the greatest obstacles in dealing with mental illness, substance abuse and alcoholism is the stigma held by the population at large. To state that serious mental illness is the result of personal choice is injurious to those so afflicted. Chemical dependency and alcoholism likewise carry a stigma that often keeps its victims in denial and therefore resistant to seeking help.

J. Andy Sullivan, Oklahoma


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