Pubdate: Sun, 02 Jul 2017
Source: Boston Globe (MA)
Copyright: 2017 Globe Newspaper Company
Author: Kaila Kuban


I cringe to think about some parent whose child is struggling with
opioid addiction reading "Stop calling addiction a brain disease," and
running to the mall to buy "gift cards or movie tickets" as incentives
for their child to "choose" not to use.

I cringe to think about the specialists who have worked so long to
change our cultural thinking around addiction sighing as these
outmoded ideas about addiction-as-a-choice are given prime media play.

And I cringe to think of those who have been blessed not to have the
specter of addiction touch their families reading this and thinking,
"See, it's not a disease."

The medicalization of addiction has its problems, but like many things
previously thought to be moral failings - for example, gender
dysphoria and depression - the move to a medical model allows crucial
things, such as insurance coverage, research funding, and subsidies
for treatment centers. Sally Satel and Scott O. Lilienfeld are correct
that addiction is not just biological. Like almost everything,
including many cancers, there is a complex interplay of nature and

But nurture cannot be confused with choice. The authors collapse the
complex webs of people's lives into a question of motivation where
addiction "can be altered when the user confronts foreseeable

Right - if only we made the consequences of opioid addiction

We are dealing with substances that so alter one's thinking that a
person can watch a loved one overdose, or have an addicted partner
kill their own child, and still want the drug. Arguing for the power
of choice in the face of these realities is to create a monster - for
who else would keep using after seeing these consequences? And once we
see those struggling with addiction as less than human, we are
liberated from having to try to help. Just think of all the tax money
we can save.

Kaila Kuban

West Roxbury
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