Why Addiction is Not a Disease: Into the Debate Lecture 3


Why Addiction is Not a Disease: Into the Debate

Lecture 3

Why Addiction is Not a Disease!

One of the main proponents

Stanton Peele http://www.peele.net/ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5BLCVTU6J4A&feature=related

When Behavior is a Disease: Around the Water Cooler

The disease is marked by loss of control of an involvement or behavior

The sufferer cannot recognize the disease in the absence of education by disease sufferers, especially other sufferers

Disease exists in of itself and cannot be traced back to childhood rearing practices or other environmental causes

Disease progresses inexorably no matter what effort or life choice is made unless they receive treatment aimed at containing or eliminating the behavior that defines the disease

Disease is a permanent trait must accommodate it the rest of their lives

Because of the inherent tendency for the sufferers and society to deny presence of disease, it is remarkably prevalent, yet frequently undetected, calling for more aggressive identification and treatment of sufferers

Main Messages

A host of addictions may be understood as disease, but they are not diseases

Addiction is an experience people can get caught up in but that still expresses their values, skills at living, and personal resolve – or lack of it


Upon stopping use – peoples’ problems don’t disappear

Addiction has become a marketplace

Sit with this…

We will never, ever treat away drug abuse, alcoholism, and the host of other behaviors that are now called addictive behaviors…

Main Messages (cont.)

No biological urge to form addictions that will one day be found under the microscope

We are creating more addictions ever year / generation (who we often tell will never get better)


Mix up moral responsibility with disease diagnosis

Peele’s idea of treatment / helping

Nurturing communities can protect and support the individual and family reduce an entire range of illness

Here people learn that can control their destinies = Self Efficacy

But we have not capitalized on self-efficacy, connection, support, and education instead we find it easier to…

The Disease Timeline

First Generation Diseases: AIDS

Second Generation Diseases:

Mental Disorders

Third Generation: Addictions

Convincing Ourselves the Impossible

Mental problems as “diseases” broadly accepted by 1950’s

Mentally people are sick like those suffering from sore throats…Medical science knows neither specific causes…nor specific ways of preventing them (World Book Encyclopedia,


Are we closer today?

Szasz, Foucault, Bateson, Laing

Szasz, Foucault, Bateson, Laing: Explanations / Answers

Family and the double bind


Deep Understanding / Safety and Support

Spiritual Journey


Taking responsibility

Today for good and bad, greater public seduced by enthusiasm in neurosciences.

No doubt great increased understanding of brain, which has helped reduce suffering from 1 st generation diseases…

But why then have 1 st

and 2 nd

generation disease rates climbed?

Why so many pills?

Why are a great deal of “so called” addicts now dually diagnosed?

It is obvious that medical and pharmaceutical breakthroughs for first-generation diseases have not been forthcoming in dealing with our second and more noticeably 3 rd

generation diseases.

Medical community has itself contributed to increase in addiction?

AA Becomes Institutionalized

Private fellowship now co-opted into mainstream medicine and psychotherapy (1970s)

Linchpin for services (widespread in U.S. and Canada)

We become convinced (lay public) millions of people are in need of services (just not acknowledging)

Thus AA moved away from an anonymous program; one where law, medicine and the like now coerce people into a one size fits all approach.

An approach that suggests once and alcoholic always an alcoholic

Diseasing of America

AA/Medical view is popular and is being applied to every-kind of behavioral problem



Compulsive shoppers

Relationships addicts, love addicts, and sex addicts

Suffers from agoraphobia to severe anxiety to eating paint chips




Video Game Addicts

Can We Escape Being Diseased?

Worse yet, disease according to its own tenets - is biological in nature, and yet sufferer(s) are told they are incurable!

Conclusions: Peele’s Final Stand

Disease conceptions are bad science

Biology is not behavior

People’s belief that they have a disease makes it less likely that they will outgrow the problem

We also most guaranteeing relapse

Lastly, the pseudo-medical and treatments of new diseases increasingly determine our

feelings, our self-concepts, and our world views – defining our culture and who we are.

Draw Backs: Unpeeling Peele

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