The disease model of drug addiction takes the view that the addict’s brain has been “hijacked” — that the addict has lost autonomy and self‐control and has effectively become a zombie who is controlled by the drug. This model of understanding nonmedical drug use informs modern public policy, leading to policies that criminalize drug use and treat addicts with punishment and coerced treatment.
Yet many scholars and experts reject this disease model of addiction. Instead, they consider nonmedical drug use a form of learning disorder in which compulsive behavior is an automatized means of coping with stress triggers. Come hear a distinguished panel of experts discuss a more sophisticated and nuanced understanding of substance use and addiction that can produce an enlightened public policy.