Is Drug Addiction a Brain Disease?

This popular claim lacks evidence and leads to poor policy.

Medicine Policy Psychology Social Science

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May-June 2018

Volume 106, Number 3
Page 160

DOI: 10.1511/2018.106.3.160

The notion that drug addiction is a brain disease has become axiomatic. Around the globe aspiring health professionals treating substance abuse are indoctrinated with this belief, especially after the idea became popular in the 1990s. Its popularity extends far beyond the hallowed halls of academia. Both the May 1997 Time and the September 2017 National Geographic magazines were dedicated to the brain science of addiction. Numerous other popular magazines have run similar cover stories over the past two decades.

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