Substance (not just substances) in addiction

The word “substance” may have a double-meaning when it comes to addiction. The basic meaning is obvious: the substance is a chemical that we want badly and pursue relentlessly. But the second meaning of “substance” is suggested by a well-documented phenomenon: the parallel between substance addictions and behavioural addictions. The feelings, actions, and brain changes […] (Read the rest.)

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Addiction: Narrowing brains in narrowing environments

The paper I recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine (linked here, summary linked here) detailed my best arguments against the disease model of addiction. But it also explored new territory, and that’s the topic of today’s post. I emphasized (as I have for years) that addiction is learned. It is not a […] (Read the rest.)

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Getting SMART in Boston

It’s been 2 1/2 weeks since I put up that summary of Maia Szalavitz’s excellent article. Busy time since then. But now I’m in Boston, visiting my friend Matt Robert and a few others, and sitting in on SMART recovery meetings. Matt has been a SMART facilitator for over six years. I came here to […] (Read the rest.)

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(Most of) Maia Szalavitz’s 10 steps to transform addiction treatment

For years, Maia Szalavitz has been making insightful, practical, and evidence-based contributions to the struggle against “the War on Drugs” and the harmful policies that emerge from it. With her permission, and the permission of editor Will Godfrey, I’m posting passages from an article she published in Filter, a magazine covering drug use, drug policy […] (Read the rest.)

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A very simple reason why it’s dumb to call addiction a disease

I just listened to the first 15 minutes of a lecture by Robert Sapolsky, a renowned biologist and Stanford professor. Sapolsky begins with an incisive lesson on why humans rely on categories. Categories, he says, make it easier to think about complex phenomena. And human social behaviour is nothing if not complex. My friend Tom […] (Read the rest.)

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