Is being an alcoholic a disability?

Did y’all know that being an alcoholic is a “disability” which is both covered and protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act? Included in this post will be, but not limited to, information, links, and my opinions on this little factoid. When did being an alcoholic become a disability? When did being an alcoholic become a disease? I have news for y’all, being an alcoholic is neither a disability or disease. For example, one can quit drinking, but one can not quit having MS or CF. I found that reading at the Americans with Disabilities Act website that the definitions of terms are very screwed up. In fact, I challenge y’all to to look up four words, for fun of course, and then review how they are applied in the Americans with Disabilities Act. The four words are Disability, Disease, Alcoholic, and Addiction. Meanwhile, let me continue. Consuming alcohol is a choice a person makes. Stopping the consumption of alcohol is as well a choice.

 
This seems to be a very blurred subject when it comes to employment, benifits, and a person living their life. Unfortunately, as we see everyday, we tend to pay for the mistakes made by people making bad choices. Alcoholism is an addiction, it is a choice, it is a matter of a person’s will power, and that doesn’t make it a disability or disease. Makes no sense to me that an alcolholic is considered sick, he/she is not sick, he/she has an addiction to alcohol. Let me give you an example taken from the ADA questions and answers page. Click the “ADA” for an entire list of questions and answers.
 
Q. Are alcoholics covered by the ADA?
A. Yes. While a current illegal user of drugs is not protected by the ADA if an employer acts on the basis of such use,a person who currently uses alcohol is not automatically denied protection. An alcoholic is a person with a disability and is protected by the ADA if s/he is qualified to perform the essential functions of the job. An employer may be required to provide an accommodation to an alcoholic. However,an employer can discipline,discharge or deny employment to an alcoholic whose use of alcohol adversely affects job performance or conduct. An employer also may prohibit the use of alcohol in the workplace and can require that employees not be under the influence of alcohol.

I tend to look at the choices we make in life as being similar to choices we would make while playing a game of chess. Each move in chess is a choice, each choice has a consequence, and in turn each time we make a choice, good or bad, we have determined what the outcome will be in advance. The non-chess players are now scratching their head. Just in case one or all of y’all are curious to what brought this up with me today, let me take a minute to explain. I was listening to the radio and one of the commercials boasted information in reference to lawsuits based on the discrimination of alcoholics in the workplace, either being hired or grounds for dismissal. The advertisement went on to explain it was in violation of the ADA and that lawfirm was there to help. Needless to say, it pissed me off just a tad. It pissed me off enough to do some research on my own.

In case you are wondering, yes I do have family members and friends who are “classified” as alcoholics. I have had the exact same conversation with them as well, I have explained to them they do not have a disease, they have an addiction. I can’t say much about a person’s addictions, I have my own since I make the choice every day to light just one more cigarette. Maybe they should make smoking a “disease” and then I wont have to go out in the rain to smoke. Seriously. Speaking of which, I am being very serious here, I am not making light of someone being an alcoholic. Trust me when I say I fought my own demons of self control not too many years ago. I used to be a heavy drinker, even could be considered an alcoholic, and one day I made a choice. My choice? My choice was to stop drinking. Why? Because I was tired of waking up sick every morning. I was tired of throwing money into the bottle. I was done. Hence, I wanted to quit. Therefore, I made the choice to quit and uphold my decision. Yes I know, what happens with one person is not the blanket answer to everyone’s problems. But, I do know, that making the choice to stop drinking is still just that, its a choice.

 

5 responses to “Is being an alcoholic a disability?

  1. This is an interesting topic, Steven. The ADA's purpose is to protect Americans with disabilities from discrimination in the workplace, so I can see where considering alcoholism a disability is helpful in that regard. However, I tend to agree that alcoholism itself isn't a disease, except in a metaphorical sense, e.g. there is no tissue-based or radiologic diagnosis for alcoholism as there is with cystic fibrosis or MS. Obviously, excessive alcohol consumption leads to an array of inflammatory disease states, namely cirrhosis of the liver, neurological impairment that is sometimes irreversible, and serious nutritional deficiencies. In the same way that sex hormones don't cause erotic desires, drugs and alcohol aren't capable of causing addiction. Addiction is a behavior, and behavior is a choice.

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  2. I found it to be an interesting subject as well. Being a 100% disabled vet I understand the workings between government and employers. But, as I found out today, my disability is not one that gets allot of attention since mine is one that is cut and dry. An alcoholic being labeled with the disease and disability is just beyond comprehension for me. It is probably due to the fact that lawers seem to be doing allot of doctoring these days.

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  3. I wanted to talk about that a little and never got to it. Not to have an oppositional opinion but I must ask why a person should get paid for his/her mistakes in or out of rehab? I mean, that person made bad decisions which ultimately effect his family, which I understand, but also don't think it is the states' or the gov'ts' responsibility to compensate someone for making poor choices.

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