Is Addiction a Brain Disease?

AA Apostate

The opioid abuse epidemic is a full-fledged item in the 2016 campaign, and with it questions about how to combat the problem and treat people who are addicted.

At a debate in December Bernie Sanders described addiction as a “disease, not a criminal activity.” And Hillary Clinton has laid out a plan on her website on how to fight the epidemic. There, substance use disorders are described as “chronic diseases that affect the brain.”

The National Institutes for Drug Addiction describe addiction as “a chronic, relapsing brain disease.” But a number of scholars, myself included, question the usefulness of the concept of addiction as a brain disease.

Psychologists such as Gene Heyman in his 2012 book, “Addiction a Disorder of Choice,” Marc Lewis in his 2015 book, “Addiction is Not a Disease” and a roster of international academics in a letter to Nature are…

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