Disease Model Proponents Are the Climate Change Deniers of Our Field

Summary and Analysis

An important statement of the problem and consequences of adopting an overly-medicalized view of addiction. In part, it says: 

"Convincing us that addiction is inevitable and inescapable—in the face of ubiquitous evidence that it is culturally and cognitively inculcated and very escapable—is a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Unlike addiction, people don’t generally escape diseases like cancer through developing an overriding purpose.)

"In the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s, psychologists like Alan Marlatt, Nick Heather and Stephen Rollnick, Jim Orford, and William Miller conducted experiments and treatment assessments demonstrating that individual and cultural beliefs were critical to treatment outcomes such as controlled drinking versus abstinence and relapse.

"But these results have gone by the wayside in the hypermedicalized 21st century. NIDA’s partial admissions are too little, too late. The agency’s fundamental direction is not changing, any more than the consequent self-defeating addiction beliefs of most Americans."

With regards to MAT specifically: 

"MAT, dispensed as an option for people seeking to navigate drug use in rational ways, can be valuable. But dispensing it as the only viable option for people proposed to be struggling with a disease from which they cannot ever truly escape—certainly not through developing their own skills and resources—is dangerously counterproductive."

Excerpted from FilterMag

@gettyimages

The drug death crisis has seen a leap of 600 percent since the 1990s—and 350 percent between 2013 and 2017. These leaps correspond with the rise of the chronic relapsing brain disease theory presented by Alan Leshner when he was director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

Leshner’s hugely influential article, “Addiction Is a Brain Disease—And It Matters,” appeared in Science in 1997. Nora Volkow has expanded this view worldwide since her ascendancy to the NIDA’s leadership in 2003. In 2007, NIDA under Volkow created the HBO Addiction Project to bring the HBO brain disease documentary into every school curriculum in America. Volkow’s theme for the NIDA, “Addiction is a Disease of Free Will” (built on Leshner’s popular “hijacked brain” meme) was published in 2015.

Meanwhile, according to the CDC, “From 1999 to 2017, more than 702,000 people have died from a drug overdose.” That number continues to grow apace.