Through the vivid, true stories of five people who journeyed into and out of addiction, a renowned neuroscientist explains why the "disease model" of addiction is wrong and illuminates the path to recovery.
The psychiatric establishment and rehab industry in the Western world have branded addiction a brain disease. But in The Biology of Desire, cognitive neuroscientist and former addict Marc Lewis makes a convincing case that addiction is not a disease, and shows why the disease model has become an obstacle to healing.
Lewis reveals addiction as an unintended consequence of the brain doing what it's supposed to do-seek pleasure and relief-in a world that's not cooperating. As a result, most treatment based on the disease model fails. Lewis shows how treatment can be retooled to achieve lasting recovery. This is enlightening and optimistic reading for anyone who has wrestled with addiction either personally or professionally.
Neuroscientist Lewis (Memoirs of an Addicted Brain) presents a strong argument against the disease model of addiction, which is currently predominant in medicine and popular culture alike, and bolsters it with informative and engaging narratives of addicts' lives. According to Lewis, addiction is neither a choice nor an inherent malady; rather, it is innate to human behavioral biology, a natural adaptation that begins in the brain. After a section introducing Lewis's theory, the bulk of the book shows the concept in action through detailed, intimate case studies. Even when presenting more technical information, Lewis shows a keen ability to put a human face on the most groundbreaking research into addiction. Likewise, he manages to make complex findings and theories both comprehensible and interesting. The focus is primarily on drug dependency, to the extent that readers will wish Lewis had given more explanation of how behavioral addictions (those not tied to substances) fit into his theory. And while therapy is consistently shown as instrumentally restorative, Lewis devotes few pages to describing how the cycle of addiction is broken. Nonetheless, this book, written with hopeful sincerity, will intrigue both those who accept its thesis and those who do not.
An absolutely excellent book that reads almost like a page-turner. As a clinical psychologist who has long been wary of the shaming, punitive, and disempowering interventions so often employed in addiction “treatment," I found it incredibly refreshing to read about the latest addiction neuroscience. But the book is far from dry, academic, technical jargon; it is rich with humanity and compassion - the author interweaves five real addiction histories with the corresponding biological mechanisms of addiction to great effect. His insights lay the foundation for a radical shift in society’s perception of addictive behavior, as well as the best ways to intervene.