ARTICLE | Strategy

Addiction camps

NIH defends disease model of addiction

October 15, 2015 7:00 AM UTC

Under attack from a trio of bioethicists who argued in The Lancet against investing in the idea that addiction is a disease of the brain, the directors of NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) have come out swinging. Their rebuttal, also in The Lancet, argues that promoting addiction as primarily a behavioral problem only perpetuates stigma and threatens to stymie drug development in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence that addiction alters brain function.

While many psychological disorders have come to be viewed as diseases of the brain, the pair of commentaries in The Lancet show the mental health field is still divided on where drug addiction lies on the spectrum of behavioral conditions. ...