Debate about addiction and the disease theory

Debate about addiction and the disease theory.

I am really not a fan of the disease theory and I feel it is insulting to those who have a real disease such as cancer. Here is a link to a good discussion in the New York Times which contains five different view points.

One of the people in the debate is Marc Lewis who wrote the excellent “memoirs of an addicted brain” which I have recently read. He gives great descriptions about the process that takes place when you decide to take drugs and feel you are addicted and have no other options to continue.

I do feel it is useful to read different opinions about aspects of addiction. Those from the 12 step world are often shown up to have little credibility and it is not a surprise that the “treatment” that they offer has very low success levels. I look at their solution as little more than faith healing, but some of the old-fashioned ideas are still held up a solution by many of these people. I think more debates and greater publicity for solutions that dismiss the disease idea as unhelpful will help people in the future.





Commenting area

  1. Here’s something that might be of use. I have heard some folks from the AA community talk about their “disease”, sometimes referring to it as an allergy as well. Here’s what an actual alcohol allergy looks like

    • Yikes! My poor mother had an allergic reaction like that the one and only time she drank beer. She could drink anything else, but not beer. I don’t know who dreamed up the whole allergy nonsense, but I’m not buying it. The picture you displayed is a real alcohol allergy.

  2. Thanks for your comment. I have met a few people with the type of allergy that the link mentions and this does certainly happen a lot in the Chinese community. I think it is very different to the disease being talked about In AA which is often put down to genetics which I feel holds people back in recovery and is not true. Here is a link to Stanton Peele on the subject

  3. I don’t believe alcoholism is a disease and I think labeling it as such is very hurtful. It is part of what has allowed AA to continue and 12-step rehabs, which I find harmful, to flourish. I believe the American Medical Association finally allowed it to be declared a disease so doctors and rehabs could receive payment for their services. Just this past year they have now declared obesity a disease and I don’t think it’s coincidental that this has taken place after surgeries to help with weight reduction have become popular. I’m overweight and I recognize this nonsense for what it is, a way to get insurance companies to have to pay! I’m also a recovered alcoholic who now drinks in moderation. I believe some are better off to stop drinking completely, but I’m able to now limit myself to 1-2 beers no more than twice a week and I refuse to drink when I’m upset because I know that get’s me in trouble. If I had continued to believe what AA taught I would have never taken the responsibility I needed to make changes. I would still believe I was powerless and all that other nonsense I was taught. I believe if one chooses to drink in excess and frequently then they are setting themselves up to develop an addiction not a disease and I agree as someone who has hypothyroidism I find it somewhat insulting to compare the two.

    • Thanks for you comment and best wishes for the future.You may find this book a good read He really exposes the way that the treatment ideas have come from the religious based approach of AA and spread. Good luck with continued moderation, I feel I went too far and now view drinking as a negative thing, but it is good to see people turning things around and having the strength to take charge.

  4. Thanks, I read that book and loved it!

    • I thought the book was excellent and really well balanced. It was a good rational description of the way AA has evolved and not some rant about AA being a cult which gets ignored by most people.

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