This article is making the rounds and getting some attention. The post below addresses the issues raised. (originally posted on 10/31/2014)
This article has been forwarded to me by several people. Its author has been writing a series of articles that seek to redefine addiction and recovery.
As Eve Tushnet recently observed, “There’s another narrative, though, which is emerging at sites like The Fix and Substance.com.” This sentence is representative of this alternative narrative:
“The addiction field has struggled with defining recovery at least as long and as fiercely as it has with defining addiction: Since we can’t even agree on whether it’s a disease, a learning disorder or a criminal choice, it becomes even harder to figure out what it means when we say someone has overcome an addiction problem.”
But are “we” really unable to agree that addiction is a disease? Who’s “we”?
It’s not unlike suggestions that there’s wide disagreement on climate change.
|“Since we can’t even agree on whether it’s a disease, a learning disorder or a criminal choice, it becomes even harder to figure out what it means when we say someone has overcome an addiction problem.”||“. . . just so you know, the consensus has not been met among scientists on this issue. Or that CO2 actually plays a part in this global warming phenomenon as they’ve come up with somehow.”|
|Health organizations that call addiction a disease or illness:
||Scientific organizations that recognize human caused climate change:
|Health organizations that dispute the dispute the disease model:
||Scientific organizations that dispute human caused climate change:
To be sure, there are people who don’t accept the disease model, some very smart people, but they represent a small minority of the experts. (The frequent casting as David vs. Goliath should be a clue.) And, if you look at their arguments, you’ll find other motives (I’m not suggesting nefarious motives) like protecting stigmatization, defending free will from “attacks”, discrediting AA and advancing psychodynamic approaches, resisting stigma and emphasizing environmental factors.
Attending to some of their concerns makes the disease model and treatment stronger, not weaker. Lots of diseases have failed to do things like adequately acknowledge environmental factors. And, one takeaway from these critics is the importance of being careful about who we characterize as having a disease/disorder explicitly or implicitly (by characterizing them as being in recovery).