The alternative liberal media has been running more and more articles like this one about the “myth of the addict gene.” I suspect that there the following are at least a few reasons for these criticisms of the disease model, 12 step recovery, and any legal restrictions on drug possession or use:
- First, there is a strong anti-drugwar sentiment. Many of these writers and activists are rightly horrified by the appalling increases in incarceration for drug offenses. They want to shift policy toward harm reduction and decriminalization of drug use and possession.
- Second, there is anger at social mores and drug policy that characterizes all drug use as pathology and/or criminality. I’m of the opinion that they go too far in the other direction and seek to characterize all drug use as a lifestyle choice.
- Third, there is suspicion of 12 step group’s spirituality.
- Fourth, there are privacy concerns about all genetic testing.
There’s a way in which the article is a straw man argument. I don’t know of anyone who argues that there is a single gene that wholly determines whether one becomes an addict. We know from twin studies that genetics play an important role in the etiology of addiction. Evidence that addiction is a brain disease continues to grow, as well as evidence that multiple genes are involved. Even advocates of addiction as a purely biogenic problem would concede that environmental factors influence the onset, course, severity and treatment response of addiction.