An Addict’s Choice

Everything you think you know about substance abuse is wrong, according to a new book “Addiction: A Disorder of Choice,” which says addiction is “voluntary behavior.”

Everything you think you know about substance abuse is wrong, according to a new book "Addiction: A Disorder of Choice," which says addiction is "voluntary behavior." Written by Gene Heyman, a research psychologist at McLean Hospital and a lecturer at Harvard, the book exacts an exemplary assault on the brain-based model of addiction. Without going so far as to say that addiction is independent of the brain, he attempts to break down the term "addiction" as it is commonly understood: to mean that substance abuse is an act beyond the user’s control. Heyman writes, "[a]ddiction … helps us understand voluntary behavior." How so? "[B]ecause," he explains, "it is not possible to understand addiction without understanding how we make choices." His book is "an invaluable tutorial in how to think about drug addiction [and] in bucking the medicalization trend, Heyman pits himself squarely against the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the nation’s main research facility on addiction, which coined the slogan that ‘addiction is a chronic and relapsing brain disease,’" remarks The New Republic.

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