Scepticism and hope in a complex predicament: people with addictions deliberate about neuroscience

Meurk, Carla, Morphett, Kylie, Carter, Adrian, Weier, Megan, Lucke, Jayne and Hall, Wayne (2016) Scepticism and hope in a complex predicament: people with addictions deliberate about neuroscience. International Journal of Drug Policy, 32 34-43. doi:10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.03.004

Author Meurk, Carla
Morphett, Kylie
Carter, Adrian
Weier, Megan
Lucke, Jayne
Hall, Wayne
Title Scepticism and hope in a complex predicament: people with addictions deliberate about neuroscience
Journal name International Journal of Drug Policy   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0955-3959
Publication date 2016-06
Year available 2016
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.drugpo.2016.03.004
Open Access Status Not Open Access
Volume 32
Start page 34
End page 43
Total pages 10
Place of publication Amsterdam, Netherlands
Publisher Elsevier BV
Collection year 2017
Language eng
Formatted abstract
Background: According to the 'brain disease model of addiction', addiction is a chronic condition the symptoms of which reflect persistent changes in neural functioning produced by long-term drug use. Scholars have argued both for and against the validity and usefulness of this way of conceptualising addiction, which has been variously described as emancipatory and detrimental to addicted persons. In this paper we explore how people with addictions make sense of the brain disease concept and the extent to which they find it useful.

Methods: We conducted 44 semi-structured interviews with persons in treatment for drug and alcohol addiction recruited through a variety of channels. Transcripts were analysed by combining a health identity approach with thematic analysis.

Results: We describe participants' understandings of how they became addicted and what role, if any, neurobiological conceptions play in their explanations. Our findings highlight the hopeful and sceptical viewpoints of addicted individuals on the value of addiction neuroscience ideas and neurotechnologies.

Conclusions: These viewpoints shed some light on the diverse and divergent ways that people with addictions make sense of neurobiological ideas and technologies. It also describes when, and how, neurobiological explanations and the 'brain disease' model can be helpful to addicted persons. Some of the limitations of the brain disease model become apparent in the complex ways in which neurobiological explanations and labels are incorporated into lay understandings. In order to be more useful to addicted persons, neurobiological explanations should be provided as part of a more complex explanation of addiction and the brain than the BDMA offers, and should not be given a 'disease' label.
Keyword Addiction
Brain disease model of addiction
Drug dependent persons
Public understandings of science
Qualitative research
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: UQ Centre for Clinical Research Publications
HERDC Pre-Audit
Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research Publications
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