ATN Webinar: Finding the meaning of addiction - Is it in the eye of the beholder?

Featuring:  Stanton Peele

When: 17 May 2022

Full webinar video now available at: ATN Webinar Stanton Peele Finding the meaning of addiction Is it in the eye of the beholder?

Event description: 

This Addiction Theory Network webinar interrogates ways in which addictive beliefs and behaviour are inextricably connected to individual and cultural meanings, especially with regards to drugs and alcohol. It casts light on the ways in which the definition and incidence of addiction – and associated drug policy and treatment approaches – are the objects of intense culture wars, particularly in the US, that may not be resolvable on objective grounds. 

Against this backdrop, the webinar examines whether addiction is a viable concept and diagnosis and the critical issues of applying the concept to substance and nonsubstance involvements alike, to questions of choice versus compulsion, and to the cultural response to the prevalence of addiction through the medium of treatment. The webinar also critically examines the consequences of construing personal behaviours in terms of addictive “diseases” and how this affects recovery individually and culturally. The concept itself is thus a central ingredient of the phenomenon of addiction. 

The event is for anyone interested in contemporary approaches to addiction theory and intervention. There will be a presentation, followed by questions and discussion. Please note that a recording of the Webinar will be made available online.  


Over the past five decades, Stanton Peele has been perhaps the most outspoken critic of disease theories of addiction. Analysing the essential constants and contrasts between the two constructs, Love and Addiction (1975; written with Archie Brodsky) defined overpoweringly destructive interpersonal relationships as addictions. This construction makes clear the ways in which addiction and its conception are shaped by sociocultural factors. In this landmark contribution and in subsequent writing, he debunks the view that people are unable to control the so-called disease of addiction. 

His most recent work, published this year, is his memoir: A Scientific Life on the Edge: My Lonely Quest to Change How We see Addiction (, in which he explores the personal sources and consequences of his lifelong efforts. His written contributions aside, Peele has had an eclectic career as a Psychologist, Attorney, Researcher, Psychotherapist, and Activist. 

Organisers: Addiction Theory Network (ATN)