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Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Muddying the Waters of Pathology and Choice: A Fundamental Misconception in the Brain Disease Model


I've been dying to discuss what is perhaps the most popularly used, yet frequently overlooked, logical fallacy in the treatment and recovery culture. It essentially leads us to assume that due to the literal physiological nature of the addictive process, the addicted individual has no control over his behavior.

Those promoting the brain disease model are intentionally misleading when they reason that "addiction is a physiological condition of the brain, the brain literally changes its structure, ergo, willpower and morality have nothing to do with addiction." What they are doing here is deliberately muddying the waters of the debate to create a fundamental misconception.

Let's analyze; in the above statement, what exactly is the speaker suggesting the addict has no control over?  Well, the speaker in this case, never actually specifies, which I find interesting - they are intentionally vague, and would like to give the listener the impression that the poorly defined phenomenon of addiction in general, and all associated behavior, is something that the addict has no control over. 

Ideally, the listener will subsequently conclude that this absence of choice or control would apply to the behaviors which we associate with addiction. When speaking in such deliberately vague terms, this is exactly the goal the speaker has in mind. 

This assumption is wrong. The addict has complete control over his behavior. The only thing that the addicted has no control over, at least not in the literal sense, is the condition of his brain at the moment - indeed, willpower and morality have nothing to do with the biology of ones brain. Simply put, just because an individual does not have immediate control over his brain chemistry, this does not mean he has no control over how he chooses reacts to this biological disposition (reaction which takes place through planned, deliberate motor movements - i.e. behavior).

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