Addiction is most often portrayed as a disease, something win which our politicians, our entertainers, and our relatives are afflicted.
It’s a portrayal that seems the only way to understand addiction.
The disease concept has long been at the heart of 12-step programs around the world. And it gives us hope, because the label marks a familiar category, allowing us to box it and hand it over to professionals.
Yet addiction is not a disease, argues Dr. Marc Lewis, a neuroscientist who has taught and conducted research at The University of Toronto and who was, for many years, a drug addict himself.
In The Biology of Desire, Lewis says that addiction is actually a learned adaptation to emotion needs – a developmental process in mind and brain.
It builds on the same neuropsychological mechanisms that permit humans to focus on their goals and pursue them passionately.
It arises from the same attachment system that binds infants to their parents and lovers to each other.
Addiction is unquestionably destructive, but it’s also quite normal. That is what make it so difficult to grasp- societally, philosophically, scientifically, and clinically.
This book explains why the disease model is wrong – and why that wrongness is disguised and made worse by a biased view of the data.
Listen to Simi’s interview with Marc Lewis, author of The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction Is Not a Disease