Addiction & Alcoholism

 email page    print page

All Topic Reviews
AddictionsA Can of MadnessA Drop of the Hard StuffA Million Little PiecesAA: Not the Only WayAddicted Like MeAddictionAddictionAddictionAddiction and ArtAddiction and ChangeAddiction and ResponsibilityAddiction Is a ChoiceAddiction NeuroethicsAddiction Recovery ToolsAddiction TrajectoriesAddiction TreatmentAddictive BehaviorsAdvances in the Neuroscience of AddictionAlternatives to AbstinenceBeautiful BoyBeyond AddictionBlackoutBlameBodies in Motion and at RestBrokenCaught in the NetChasing the HighChasing the ScreamCircles of RecoveryCloserCodependent ForevermoreControlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for YouCrackedCreating the American JunkieCybersexDirtyDrinkingDrinking in AmericaDrug Dealer, MDDrunk the Night BeforeDrunkardDryDuplicityEcstasyForces of HabitFree RefillsFrom Sabotage to SuccessGetting HookedGetting OffGetting WastedHigh PriceHookedHow to Spot Hidden Alcoholicshow to stop timeHypnosis for Smoking CessationIf I Die Before I WakeIllness or Deviance?In the Shadows of the NetLeaving Las VegasLitLithium for MedeaLiving With One’s PastLove JunkieMatters of SubstanceMemoirs of an Addicted BrainMethadoniaModerate DrinkingMore, Now, AgainMy Friend LeonardNever EnoughOver the InfluencePorn NationPowerfully Recovered!Rachel Getting MarriedRachel's HolidayReal Solutions for Overcoming Internet AddictionsRecovery from AddictionRecovery OptionsRequiem for a Dream DVDSex Addiction as Affect Dysregulation Sex Addiction: The Partner's PerspectiveShameShe Bets Her LifeSmackSmashedSmashedStop Smoking and Chewing Tobacco for Life ChangesStrong FeelingsSubstance Abuse As SymptomTackling AddictionTalking Oneself SoberThe 5 Reasons Why We OvereatThe AddictThe AlcoholicThe Angry HeartThe Behavioral AddictionsThe Betty Ford Center Book of AnswersThe Big FixThe Biology of DesireThe Book of JamaicaThe Chemical Dependence Treatment PlannerThe Heart of AddictionThe Meaning of AddictionThe Night of the GunThe RecoveringThe Science of AddictionThe Science of Self-ControlThe Sober TruthTheory of AddictionThinking about AddictionTreating AddictionTweakUS of AAVirtual AddictionVoices of AlcoholismWhat Did I Do Last Night?What is Addiction?Writing to Heal

Related Topics
The Biology of DesireReview - The Biology of Desire
Why Addiction Is Not a Disease
by Marc Lewis
PublicAffairs, 2015
Review by Anna Westin
Apr 19th 2016 (Volume 20, Issue 16)

In The Biology of Desire: Why Addiction is Not a Disease, Marc Lewis challenges the dichotomy of brain disease theories of addiction.  Unpacking the difficulties in definition and treatment provided by the disease model, and supporting his claims with recent neuroscientific findings, Lewis suggests that addiction is another natural instance of the brain reconfiguring its response to a salient desire, and engraining it as a complicated habit.   Using a series of addiction narratives, he shows how each individual develops an addiction in response to various internal and external factors. 

Of particular interest is Lewis' ability to address why certain individuals seem to 'mature out' of addictive behaviours, and the centrality of desire in motivating behaviour.  Referencing the brain's complex process of 'deep learning', he explains how the motivation of desire plays more of a central role in addiction than the actual experience of pleasurable reward, suggesting that addressing the brain's learning process is key to understanding the addiction process.  Lewis is careful to provide a realistic view of this 're-learning', and suggests that the process is facilitated through personal engagement coupled with a variety of forms of therapy.  He does not prescribe a 'certain route', which is refreshingly different in addiction literature, but rather illustrates how the restructuring of the personal narrative of the individual occurs at a neurological level.  

Lewis' book presents a clearly articulated account of the neuroscience involved in desiring 'addictive' stimuli, making it accessible to a wide audience.  His findings develop a salient critique of the binaries involved in the disease model of addiction, while also offering a hopeful (and arguably quite realistic) response to permanent recovery as a result of new habit formation.   While at times Lewis does seem to gloss over particularly important philosophical questions (concerning identity, desire, etc.), it delivers informative and stimulating findings to a diverse audience.  Through the use of neuroscience and personal case study examples, Lewis illustrates the value in localising and addressing internal empowerment and re-structuring narratives to develop beyond the patterns of addiction.


© 2016 Anna Westin


Anna Westin, PhD candidate and visiting lecturer, Arts and Humanities, St. Mary's University, Twickenham, London


Welcome to Metapsychology.

Note that Metapsychology will be moving to a new server in January 2020. We will not put up new reviews during the transition. We thank you for your support and look forward to coming back with a revised format.

We feature over 8300 in-depth reviews of a wide range of books and DVDs written by our reviewers from many backgrounds and perspectives. We update our front page weekly and add more than twenty new reviews each month. Our editor is Christian Perring, PhD. To contact him, use one of the forms available here.

Metapsychology Online reviewers normally receive gratis review copies of the items they review.
Metapsychology Online receives a commission from for purchases through this site, which helps us send review copies to reviewers. Please support us by making your purchases through our Amazon links. We thank you for your support!

Join our Google Group!

Interested in becoming a book reviewer for Metapsychology? To apply, write to our editor.

Metapsychology Online Reviews

Promote your Page too

Metapsychology Online Reviews
ISSN 1931-5716