The Production of Stigma by the Disease Model of Addiction:
Why drug user activists must oppose it ! Full paper here
Presentation by Eliot Albert session 352 –
(edited for blog by E O’Mara)
“We have seen a recent resurgence of the disease model of addiction, underlined emphatically by the 2007 passage through the US Senate of the ‘Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act’, one of the consequences of which was that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) changed its name to the National Institute on Diseases of Addiction. Interestingly, this was couched specifically in terms of reducing the stigma implied by the term ‘abuse’ in the original name. As a press release noted “It also represents an important step in reducing the stigma associated with addictive disorders, and correctly renames the Institute to recognize that addiction is in fact a disease.”
My [Eliot’s] paper argues that the description of addiction as a disease is both scientifically groundless and that contrary to the intentions of the act, doesn’t reduce but exacerbates stigma.
My ultimate point is that we may not need neither treatment nor cure, since we are not necessarily sick or suffering from a disease. What might be needed is decent social policy to ameliorate the dire social conditions, the endemic poverty, the decrepit educational and housing systems which lead a disproportionate number of the underprivileged to become criminalised solely for attempting to seek some solace and relief from an unrelentingly cruel and harsh world. My [Eliots] paper will show that reconceptualising what we call addiction as another example of the wide plethora of human bonding is more helpful and far less stigmatizing as it restores will power and rational choice to people who use drugs in what is called an addictive way.