Critique of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction.

About the Course:

The Office of the Surgeon General recently produced its first Report on the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse on health, making several very laudable policy recommendations, including characterizing addiction as a Brain Disease Model of Addiction (BDMA). However, the Report is marred by a biased viewpoint on the psychology and neurobiology of drug addiction. We highlight here four controversial issues that were depicted as facts in the Report, thereby potentially misleading non‐expert readers about the current state-of-the-art understanding of the psychology and neurobiology of drug addiction. It will be important to recognize a fuller range of scientific viewpoints in addiction neuroscience to avoid amplifying this bias in the coming years. The current dominant perspective on addiction as a brain disease has been challenged recently by Marc Lewis, who argued that the brain-changes related to addiction are similar to everyday changes of the brain. From this alternative perspective, addictions are bad habits that can be broken, provided that people are motivated to change. In that case, autonomous choice or free will can overcome bad influences from genes and or environments and brain-changes related to addiction. The brain changes occurring with addiction are related to choice behavior (and the related notions of willed action), habit formation and insight, hence essential mental abilities to break the addiction..

Publication Date:



Aldo Badiani

Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy

Ted Fenton
Anke Soek

Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Sciences, Maastricht University, and Faculty of Arts, Philosophy Department, Macquarie University, Sydney

Recommended For:

Clinicians, physicians, administrators, researchers. This course is appropriate for all levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Acknowledge there is an opposing view to the biological disease model in the Surgeon General’s report and more current scientific data available.

  2. Identify Marc Lewis and his research as the leading authority on the opposing view and the research that his book has spun off.

  3. Extrapolate the two opposing models, and a third biological disorder model and apply those theories to treatment of clients/patients.

Addiction research and theory: a commentary on the Surgeon General's Report on alcohol, drugs, and health

Free Will, Black Swans and Addiction

Introduction: Testing and Refining Marc Lewis’s Critique of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction

Exam Questions

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Course Number: 102386
Credit Hours: 1.5cr
NBCC Credit Hours: 1.5cr
Exam Fee: $10.46
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Format: Online Article
4.1 out of 5
Popularity: 115 members have taken this course