"In 1997, Alan Leshner, the Director of the US National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), proclaimed that addiction was a chronic, relapsing, brain disease (Leshner, 1997). According to Leshner, drug use begins as a voluntary act but when drug use becomes regular and heavy, a neurochemical switch in the brain makes it very difficult to for the person to stop using drugs, despite their best efforts to do so. This has been called the brain disease model of addiction (BDMA).

"Leshner and others argued that broad societal acceptance of the BDMA would deliver more effective addiction treatments that health insurers would fund and make more accessible to persons with addictions (Volkow and Li, 2004, Dackis and O’Brien, 2005, Leshner, 1997). They also predicted that the BDMA would reduce stigma because the public would accept that persons with an addiction had a brain disease that was in need of treatment rather than punishment (Volkow, 2015)."


Hall W, Gartner C, Morphett K. How has the brain disease model of addiction contributed to tobacco control?. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2023;253:111033. doi:10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2023.111033