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Life-process model of addiction

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The life-process model of addiction is the view that addiction is not a disease but rather a habitual response and a source of gratification and security that can be understood only in the context of social relationships and experiences.

This model of addiction is in direct opposition to the disease model of addiction. The proponents of the life-process model argue that the biological mechanisms that might account for addictive behavior have not been identified and thus do not support using the term disease, preferring to emphasize the individual's ability to overcome addiction by repairing relationships and personal strength of will.

Critics of the life-process model emphasize that the lack of ability to identify specific disease mechanisms does not negate the characteristic disease course, morbidity, or mortality observed with addiction, thereby causing the condition to meet all the requirements for the term disease. As noted by addiction medicine specialist Drew Pinsky, MD:

A disease is a complex relationship between the genetic makeup of the individual and the environment that results in an abnormal state of physiology (called pathophysiology) reflected in signs and symptoms. Those signs and symptoms follow a predictable pattern (called a natural history). And that natural history has a predictable response to treatment.

Notable supporters

Relevant Books

  • The Myth of Addiction John Booth Davies (Routledge, 1997) ISBN 978-9057022463
  • A Critique of Nicotine Addiction by Hanan Frenk and Reuven Dar (Springer, 2000) ISBN 0792372255
  • Problem Drinking Nick Heather and Ian Robertson (Oxford University Press, 1997) ISBN 0192628615
  • The Alcoholism and Addiction Cure by Chris Prentiss (Power Press, 2007) ISBN 0943015448
  • Addiction is a Choice by Jeffrey Schaler (Open Court, 1999) ISBN 0-8126-9404-X
  • The Truth About Addiction and Recovery by Stanton Peele (Fireside, 1992) ISBN 0671755307

See also


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