All In Solutions Counseling Center Cherry Hill

Addiction Psychiatrist Breaks Down Criticism of Brain Disease Model of Addiction
Thursday, August 4th 2022, 9:00 PM

Director of New Jersey Drug Rehab All In Solutions Cherry Hill on Addiction as a Brain Disease

Cherry Hill, United States - August 4, 2022 / All In Solutions Counseling Center Cherry Hill /

Addiction Treatment in New Jersey

In the past few decades, funding for addiction treatment in New Jersey has increased in response to rising demand. In fact, according to the most recent New Jersey Substance Abuse Monitoring System (NJSAMS) report, there were 82,254 drug rehab admissions in 2020. The same report showed that the primary drug of choice for 31% of NJ rehab admissions was alcohol and the primary drug of choice for 42% of NJ rehab admissions was heroin. While tremendous progress has been made in making addiction treatment accessible, over 60% of the estimated demand for drug and alcohol treatment in New Jersey is unmet. 

addiction treatment centers in New Jersey: admissions by drug of choice

When considering how efforts to treat and prevent substance use disorders should be implemented and funded, it is important to understand the decades-long discourse about how addiction is classified. In other words, is addiction simply the consequence of poor choices made by individuals who lacked integrity? Or, is addiction a disease that should be treated like any other medical condition? In the late 1990s the scientific view of addiction as a disease was postulated in the form of the "brain-hijack theory", and began to replace the moralistic view of substance abuse that was commonly held. As new studies have emerged, new criticisms have surfaced regarding theories of alcohol and drug addiction as a disease. Discussed below are some of the most commonly cited problems with the brain disease model of addiction.

Is addiction a disease?

New Jersey Rehab Director on Criticisms of Disease Model of Addiction

Dr. Allen Masry is a board-certified addiction psychiatrist who currently serves as both the medical director for All In Solutions Counseling Center Cherry Hill and the president of the New Jersey branch of the American Society of Addiction Medicine. Below he explains the criticisms and implications of the disease model of addiction, as well as its significance for substance abuse treatment in New Jersey.

"To understand the brain disease model of addiction, it can be helpful to understand the context in which it was initially proposed. Alan Leshner, who was the director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse at the time, asserted that addiction was a 'chronic, relapsing disease that results from the prolonged effects of drugs on the brain'[1]. This proposition was a challenge to the widely accepted belief at the time that addiction was simply a moral deficiency - a failure of character. So at this point, the objections to the brain disease model of addiction came not from the scientific community but from the general public. 
Since then, a number of studies have compared addiction with other diseases (which are unquestioned as diseases) like asthma, diabetes, and hypertension and found that characteristics like the role of personal choice and environmental factors were similar enough to warrant viewing addiction in the same light [2]. The shift from a moral view of addiction to a medical view of addiction has increased access to treatment by pushing it into the realm of medical procedures for which insurance companies and government agencies will pay. In addition, it has helped to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorders which makes those who struggle with the disease more likely to seek help. 
More recently, some critique of the brain disease model of addiction has come from within the scientific community. One critique questions how a chronic relapsing disease can spontaneously go into remission without formal treatment in some diagnosed with addictive disorders. Additionally, some of these individuals are able to use drugs and alcohol later in life without a problem. This critique, however, more likely indicates a deficiency in the reliability of diagnosis criteria - perhaps current indicators are too inclusive. 
Another criticism is that neuroimaging, at this point, can't be used to diagnose addiction. This does not mean that there are no observable differences in brain structure and function in those with addictions - there are. But, ' brain imaging findings in addiction (perhaps with the exception of extensive neurotoxic gray matter loss in advanced alcohol addiction) are nowhere near the level of specificity and sensitivity required of clinical diagnostic tests.' [3]
The discussion about the role of choice in addiction is mostly about how we define compulsion. Compulsion, as it relates to addiction, shares some similarities, but also differs from compulsion in its more strict definition relating to OCD. Clearly, a more literal interpretation of compulsivity, where an addict simply cannot choose not to use drugs is not accurate. As we see in contingency management treatment approaches, drug and alcohol use behavior is sensitive to reward. So while we often see drug-centered behavior in which substance use is insensitive to adverse consequences in active addicts and alcoholics, choice is not entirely absent." 
Dr. Allen Masry: Addiction Treatment Clinician in New Jersey

About All In Solutions Cherry Hill

All In Solutions Counseling Center Cherry Hill is a drug and alcohol addiction treatment center located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.  All In Solutions is JCAHO approved and has more than ten years of experience providing high-quality treatment services. Their tailored inpatient and outpatient addiction treatment programs provide integrative, scientifically supported, spiritually based, and even medication-assisted therapy modalities. Their alcohol and drug rehab's skilled staff offers high-quality therapy that tackles the mental health issues that underlie addiction.  They genuinely care about their patients, and they care about one another, at our treatment facility. Most private health insurance companies cover the high-quality addiction therapy that they offer. To contact All In Solutions Cherry Hill, call (856) 336-5806 or visit them at 1930 Marlton Pike East building t, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003.

Contact Information:

All In Solutions Counseling Center Cherry Hill

1930 Marlton Pike East Building T
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
United States

Matthew Amato
(856) 336-5806

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All In Solutions Cherry Hill offers inpatient and outpatient drug and alcohol addiction treatment programs that are tailored to meet each patients unique needs and build a foundation for long-term recovery.


Matthew Amato
All In Solutions Counseling Center Cherry Hill

1930 Marlton Pike East
Cherry Hill, NJ, 08003, United States

Phone (856) 336-5806


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