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Critique of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction.

This course was updated 7 days ago. If you're about to take the exam, you may benefit from reviewing the exam questions listed below before starting on the actual exam.

About the Course:

The Office of the Surgeon General recently produced its first Report on the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse on health, making several very laudable policy recommendations, including characterizing addiction as a Brain Disease Model of Addiction (BDMA). However, the Report is marred by a biased viewpoint on the psychology and neurobiology of drug addiction. We highlight here four controversial issues that were depicted as facts in the Report, thereby potentially misleading non‐expert readers about the current state-of-the-art understanding of the psychology and neurobiology of drug addiction. It will be important to recognize a fuller range of scientific viewpoints in addiction neuroscience to avoid amplifying this bias in the coming years. The current dominant perspective on addiction as a brain disease has been challenged recently by Marc Lewis, who argued that the brain-changes related to addiction are similar to everyday changes of the brain. From this alternative perspective, addictions are bad habits that can be broken, provided that people are motivated to change. In that case, autonomous choice or free will can overcome bad influences from genes and or environments and brain-changes related to addiction. The brain changes occurring with addiction are related to choice behavior (and the related notions of willed action), habit formation and insight, hence essential mental abilities to break the addiction..

This course is based on the articles, Addiction research and theory: a commentary on the Surgeon General’s Report on alcohol, drugs, and health created by Aldo Badiani et al. in 2017, Free Will, Black Swans and Addiction created by Reinout W Wiers, PhD et al. in 2017 and Introduction: Testing and Refining Marc Lewis’s Critique of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction created by Stephen Mattews et al. in 2017.

Publication Date:


Course Material Authors

Aldo Badiani

Aldo Badiani is a professor of Pharmacology at Sapienza University of Rome, Rome, Italy. Much of his research has been in the addiction field and he has presented multiple lectures, written book chapters and published more than 75 articles in peer reviewed journals.

Reinout W Wiers, PhD

Reinout W Wiers is professor of developmental psychopathology at the Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam. Reinout does research in Abnormal Psychology, Clinical Psychology and Developmental Psychopathology. He is head of the Addiction Development and Psychopathology (ADAPT) lab.

Stephen Matthews

Dr Stephen Matthews is Senior Research Fellow at the Plunkett Centre for Ethics (a joint centre of St Vincent’s and Mater Health, and ACU), and in the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy. His published works relate to the metaphysics of personal identity over time, moral psychology, the philosophy of psychiatry, and applied ethics. Recently he has been focusing on questions of autonomy, agency, and narrative identity where those concepts may test, and be tested by, empirical findings related to those struggling with addictions, mental illness, or dementia.

Course Creator

Keith Gibson, Ph.D.

Dr. Gibson is a Clinical Psychologist with over 30 years in research, clinical and consulting practice. He has also held leadership roles in research administration and program evaluation and more recently has specialized in program evaluation and system analysis. He draws upon his years of expertise as a practicing psychologist, administrator, researcher and technologist to help universities evaluate their programs to implement, meet, and maintain CACREP standards.

Recommended For:

Clinicians, physicians, administrators, researchers. This course is appropriate for intermediate levels of participants’ knowledge.

Course Objectives:

  1. Acknowledge there is an opposing view to the biological disease model in the Surgeon General’s report and more current scientific data available.

  2. Identify Marc Lewis and his research as the leading authority on the opposing view and the research that his book has spun off.

  3. Extrapolate the two opposing models, and a third biological disorder model and apply those theories to treatment of clients/patients.

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American Academy of Health Care Providers in the Addictive Disorders (AAHCPAD)

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American Psychological Association (APA)

1.5 credit hour

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NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals (NAADAC)

1.5 credit hour

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National Association of School Psychologists (NASP)

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National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC)

1.5 credit hour

CE Learning Systems, service provider of Addiction Counselor CE has been approved by NBCC as an Approved Continuing Education Provider, ACEP No. 5951. Programs that do not qualify for NBCC credit are clearly identified. CE Learning Systems is solely responsible for all aspects of the programs.

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Addiction research and theory: a commentary on the Surgeon General's Report on alcohol, drugs, and health

References begin on page 5.

Free Will, Black Swans and Addiction

References begin on page 15.

Introduction: Testing and Refining Marc Lewis’s Critique of the Brain Disease Model of Addiction

References begin on page 13.

Exam Questions

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Course Number 102386
1.5 credit hour
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  • Reading-Based Online
Exam Fee: $8.96 No exam fee with a membership package!
4.22 out of 5
210 members have taken this course