Chapter 14 Recovery is possible: Overcoming ‘addiction’ and its rescue hypotheses


This chapter suggests that the core assumption underpinning the brain disease model, as well as other leading theories of addiction, is fundamentally flawed: addiction does not change the basis of human behavior for specific activities.

It details how dominant approaches to addiction illogically assume that people can exercise volitional control over certain behaviors and not others, and that these accounts obscure the behaviors they seek to explain by conflating addiction ‘mechanisms’ with its ‘causes’. It is argued that, in doing so, these addiction theories divert attention from reasons why people engage in particular behaviors and that this can undermine their sense of agency and ability to change.

The chapter concludes with a call to refocus our efforts to understand addiction by moving away from an overly exclusive focus on individuals and their brains and instead to turn our attention to the reasons for, and wider influences on, ‘addiction’.


Derek Heim - ORCiD:

Rebecca L. Monk - ORCiD:


Evaluating the Brain Disease Model of Addiction is available from: