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Disease Model of Use

  • By: Amanda J. Abraham & Paul M. Roman
  • In: Encyclopedia of Drug Policy
  • Edited by: Mark A. R. Kleiman & James E. Hawdon
  • Subject:Public Policy, Drug Crimes

The disease model of use refers to the view of addiction as a chronic brain disease. While there is strong scientific evidence for the medical basis of addiction as a brain disease, public support for the disease concept of use remains mixed; a majority of Americans continue to view addiction, in part, as a moral issue. Although national drug policy includes both prevention and treatment components (i.e., demand reduction), the “War on Drugs” has increasingly focused on supply reduction (e.g., interdiction, criminalization). This emphasis on punishment rather than prevention or treatment is inconsistent with the view of addiction as a medical condition or public health issue.

The disease concept of use, which first emerged in the 18th century, refers to the view of substance use disorders ...

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