Substance Abuse: Compaing the Medical/Disease Model and the Social Model

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Many people dislike the term ‘addiction’ in relation to drugs or other substances, particularly as it infers that a person is powerless over their use of a particular drug or in some circumstances, a number of substances. Whilst others maintain it is this powerlessness that is the foundation of diagnosis and treatment – that treatment is not possible without recognition of addiction itself as the ‘problem’ being addressed. The professional and public perception of addiction is complicated. There are many approaches and models to explain addiction, the role of the addict, and their environment. This essay will compare and contrast two of these approaches, the medical/disease and the social model. Initially this essay will describe the origins of each model, and follow by explaining their respective strengths and weaknesses, and finish with an overview of the key differences between them. This essay will conclude by demonstrating that a holistic approach, and a cross-pollination of these models is the most successful approach to treating addicts. As is the case for all diseases, there are multiple treatment options, and as ever person is different, the results in each individual cannot be predicted. The two models for this paper sit on opposite sides of an argument to whether addiction is a choice. This is a common argument in the media, and even amongst professionals. It is also one which seems to flare when a person in the spotlight succumbs to an overdose. The latest, Philip Seymour Hoffman, reignited this debate recently in the media, Manejwala (2014) states that deaths of a famous person from addiction results in the methods behind treatment being reviewed and debated and this can be seen anecdotally in news across all media ... ... middle of paper ... ... (1991). Cocaine changes: The experience of using and quitting. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. Manejwala, O.M. (2014). How Often Do Long-Term Sober Alcoholics and Addicts Relapse? Craving. Miller, P. M., Smith, G.T., & Goldman, M. S. (1990). Emergence of alcohol expectancies in childhood. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 51, 343-349. Nurnberger JI Jr, Wiegand R, Bucholz K, O'Connor S, Meyer ET, Reich T, Rice J, Schuckit M, King L, Petti T, .Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2004 Dec; 61(12):1246-56. Peele, S. (1985). The meaning of addiction: Compulsive experience and its interpretation. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books/Heath. Peele, S. 2014. Accessed 08.03.14 Vaillant, G. E. (1983). The natural history of alcoholism. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

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