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Is addiction really a disease?

Presentation by Dr Kevin McCauley, a non-practicing physician who has worked in the field of addiction treatment for two decades. Kevin is creator of the award-winning Pleasure Unwoven, a less stigmatising presentation steeped in brain science

When Kevin was sent to a military prison for a year (he was addicted to opioid pain medications following a surgical procedure), he decided to immerse himself in learning about the disease that had held a grip on him. Half the books he read during his incarceration were from the addiction field’s historian, William White. So McCauley couldn’t help being moved over White’s writing in Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly that McCauley’s project “may prove to be one of the most effective educational tools ever developed on addiction and will serve as an invaluable aid in the treatment of individuals and families affected by addiction… it synthesises very complex neuroscience in the clearest language to date”.

The National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP) honoured Pleasure Unwoven with its Michael Q Ford Journalism Award for 2010. The film uses the stunning backdrop of Utah’s national and state parks to illustrate the brain mechanisms at work in addiction, seeking to gently but thoroughly debunk the notion that addiction is a choice and not a disease. This is the topic of his presentation above.