Pickard (2012) claims that the neurobiological or disease model of addiction hinders the recovery of people because it undermines their feeling of self-efficacy and agency. Sub- stance users are “not aided by being treated as victims of a neurobiological disease, as opposed to agents of their own recovery” (40).Although Pickard acknowledges that claims of powerlessness or loss of agency can have a functional role in the self-narratives of substance users in excusing them from blame, she primarily focuses on the negative effects of the diseasemodel on the recovery of substance users. Preliminary evidence from in-depth interviews with heroin-dependent participants in our current cohort study on addiction and moral identity supports Pickard’s claims in part: Substance users describe grades of control, psychological distress, and loss of options, and an ambivalent attitude toward their belief in self-efficacy. However the interviews also provide points of critique. While Pickard is right to dismiss the more extreme claims of proponents of the disease model—namely, that drug use in addicts is literally compelled—user responses suggest that an understanding of the neurobiology of addiction might in some respects support rather than undermine a sense of agency. Moreover, there is reason to suppose that the relation be- tween substance use and psychological distress is not as straightforward as Pickard claims. In this respect we believe the debate must become more nuanced and move beyond a simple opposition between the disease model and the rational choice model endorsed by Pickard.
Keywords Addiction  Self-control
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DOI 10.1080/21507740.2012.665412
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References found in this work BETA

The Purpose in Chronic Addiction.Hanna Pickard - 2012 - American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 3 (2):40-49.
Addiction and Self-Deception: A Method for Self-Control?Mary Jean Walker - 2010 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (3):305-319.
A Research-Based Theory of Addictive Motivation.George Ainslie - 2000 - Law and Philosophy 19 (1):77-115.

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