Community Mental Health Journal

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 418-429

First online:

“Mental illness” and “disease”

Outmoded concepts in alcohol and drug rehabilitation
  • Jerome F. X. CarrollAffiliated withEagleville Hospital and Rehabilitation Center

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Are the addict and alcoholic mentally ill? By traditional standards, yes. The validity of the “mental illness” concept and its associated psychiatric labeling process, however, is challenged. A synthesis of the human ecological systems and thirdforce frames of reference is presented as a viable alternative to the medical “disease” model of alcoholism and drug dependency. According to the proposed disease model, “alcoholism,” “addiction,” and “mental illness” are considered to be modes of coping with pain and anger associated with a person's participating in social systems that frustrate self-actualization and diminish self-esteem. Combined treatment of “alcoholics,” “addicts,” and “nonaddicted psychiatric patients” is supported with qualifications.