Today, in the world of addiction recovery, there is one big factor in how we perceive addiction’s effect on people. This factor, of course, is our classification of addiction as a mental disease. However, while this is a classification that is taken for granted in the medical world, nowadays, we should always leave room for our suppositions to be challenged, as it can provide a tremendous insight, even if these challenges may be wrong.
Over the past several years, one such professor has been leveling some thoughtful criticism towards the ideology of how we view addiction, as well as the entire addiction recovery industry, in general. This man’s name is Marc Lewis…
Marc Lewis has made an illustrious career as a developmental neuroscientist who studies human behavior and how it is affected by the emotional composure of an individual. He is certainly a voice that demands attention, due to his authority in his field of study. On top of his research positions, Marc Lewis was a longtime professor at the University of Toronto, and continues to be a professor at Radbud University, which is in the Netherlands.
What makes Marc an important figure to listen to on this topic, however, is that he is not just another academic researcher. Marc has his own history with addiction, which dates back to being an Undergraduate at Berkeley. Lewis’ experimentation with psychedelic drugs eventually led him to become addicted to opiates.
His controversial proposal
The radical notion that Marc Lewis is presenting is that addiction should not be viewed and treated as a disease. Indeed, he purports that such a classification is actually harmful for the people involved. Rather than being viewed as a chronic brain disease, Lewis says that addiction is about brain development, and should be treated much more as a behavioral issue. By taking this approach to addiction, he believes that approaches to treatment will improve and that new solutions to fight addiction will start to emerge.
The importance of another perspective
Ultimately, one of the greatest humanitarian benefits for addicts that came from citing addiction as a disease was that it was able to help break some of the stigma that addicts face. However, viewing addiction as a behavioral problem doesn’t necessarily bring the stigma back into it. Instead, addiction can be viewed as a developmental process, one in which the addict must continue to develop beyond the scope of their addiction. Whether or not this concept has weight is yet to be seen. However, it is always important to examine viewpoints outside of your own, especially when the topic is as important as this