In the United States, the history of alcohol use has led to the ascendance of the disease theory as the main emphasis of alcoholism. Social-scientific research has consistently conflicted with the disease theory, but psychological conceptions of alcoholism are not very well represented in the public consciousness, in treatment programs, or in policies for affecting this countries drinking practices. Conflict in the field has escalated in the last decade, most notably concerning the issue of controlled drinking in alcoholism treatment. Although our current cultural attitude toward alcoholism in strongly influenced by disease notions, there continues to be a need for psychologists to offer alternative views of alcoholism, considering, there has been no reported improvement in our society's drinking problems. .
Alcoholism or alcohol dependence is a chronic disease marked by a craving for alcohol. People who suffer from this illness are known as alcoholics. They cannot control their drinking even when it becomes the underlying cause of serious harm, including medical disorders, marital difficulties, job loss, or automobile crashes. Medical science has yet to identify the exact cause of alcoholism, but research suggests that genetic, psychological, and social factors influence its development. Even with all this research, in America, alcohol problems are now widely considered to be primarily the result of an uncontrollable response to alcohol among those who are classified as alcoholics. This disease theory disagrees with social scientific research that finds responses to alcohol to be based on a range of cognitive and environmental factors and thus to be more variable than the disease theory describes. Unfortunately, all social-scientific viewpoints are overridden, by a larger cultural ethos that agrees with the disease viewpoint. It appears that the combination of psychotherapy and pharmacotherapy increases a patients ability to abstain from the ingestion of alcohol.