The Good and the Bad of Trauma Theory in Addiction

January 10, 2017

Why the Life Process Program doesn’t focus on trauma—it doesn’t work! Trauma theory has come to dominate addiction practice.  It is commonplace to hear assertions that all addiction is due to trauma, or the converse—no one can escape the trauma in their lives.  Both of these statements are not true, as I will illustrate with […]


Five Ways People Are Coerced Into Rehab and AA

December 21, 2016

The myth is that 12-step programs and their associated treatment industry thrive simply because Americans love them. In fact, both are substantially built on and maintained by force. This contradiction necessitated the invention of the idea of denial. In my recent column on the essential similarities between the neurobiological version of the disease theory of […]


Why Critics Are Afraid to Admit That NIDA’s Addiction Model and AA Are Two Sides of the Same Coin

December 14, 2016

As our predestined fates would have it, several prominent books (including by authors as distinguished as Marc Lewis, Sally Satel and Johann Hari) have recently confronted the supposedly scientific neurobiological chronic brain disease theory of addiction. The theory, which is associated worldwide with Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), was […]


The Surgeon General’s Addiction Report Repeats Old Bromides—Here’s What He Ought to Be Telling Us

November 28, 2016

Our policies and public proclamations around addiction resemble a slow-motion, inevitable car crash. On November 17 a summit was convened in Los Angeles at which US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy sounded the latest alarm on addiction: Facing Addiction in America: The Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health. “Addressing the addiction crisis in America […]


That Time When a Devastating Attack on a Seminal Controlled Drinking Study Set Us Back Decades

November 22, 2016

Recent reports on the harm reduction movement portray its rude health—yet simultaneously, a catastrophic event could at any point challenge its growing acceptance. To me, the situation recalls a disastrous confrontation that long negated a hugely promising development, before “harm reduction” was even a phrase. This contributed to countless tragic deaths—although one in particular sticks […]


Like Bad Drug Laws, the Disease Theory of Addiction Ruins Lives: We Must Target Both

November 5, 2016

Disease Theory of Addiction The disease theory of addiction underpins punitive and abhorrent drug policies—but in fact, its negative impact is evenworse than this. Recently, two notables on an addiction theory list to which I used to belong debated the relationship between the disease theory of addiction and drug policy. One, my fellow Influence contributor […]


Anyone Can Escape Addiction—But Fatalistic Views of Biology or Trauma Persuade People Otherwise

October 25, 2016

Earlier this year, Maia Szalavitz, my fellow Influence columnist and an old comrade-in-arms, released her masterful book,Unbroken Brain, one that displays skills I only wish I had, and that I try to emulate. In it, she’s kind enough to praise my own Love and Addiction (1975, with Archie Brodsky), as “groundbreaking.” I’ll add my voice […]


In Addiction, We Must Constantly Reassert That Research Beats Experience

October 9, 2016

A piece on The Influence last week by Patrick Hilsman, a member of this publication’s editorial team, strikingly recounted his experiences—both pleasurable and harrowing—with heroin, to which he was once addicted. He contrasted these personal experiences with some received wisdoms about heroin—though in doing so, he inserted some important disclaimers about different people experiencing phenomena […]


Seven Things We Must Understand About Addiction to Undo the Mistakes of the Past 40 Years

October 2, 2016

When Archie Brodsky and I were writing Love and Addiction in the early 1970s, a medical resident told us, “Oh, we’ve established what addiction was long ago.” It turns out, that wasn’t true. In 2013, DSM-5, the most recent edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic manual, redefined addiction to include gambling—American psychiatry’s first official […]


Sometimes I Worry That AA’s Media Fan Club Won’t Be Enough to Secure Our Addiction-Free Future

We heard last week how Arianna Huffington, running her eponymous publication, bravely fought against criticism of 12-step programs in a report on heroin addiction in Kentucky that was eventually nominated for a Pulitzer. Should that surprise us? Of course not! Our media titans have long known that Alcoholics Anonymous and its spin-off fellowships are humankind’s […]