Framing Addiction

With the opioid crisis affecting so many communities, my news and social media feeds have been increasingly populated with messaging about addiction from advocates and experts. In hopes of dispelling the dominant frames in public thinking about people with addiction as having made “bad choices,” and having insufficient “will” to recover, I see repeated assertions that “addiction is a disease.”

While true, many non-experts do not fully believe that addiction is a disease. So we must do more to explain the process of disease if we are to hope to change public understanding. Expanding the assertion by saying, e.g., that ‘addiction is a disease that involves altered functioning of the brain’s reward and motivation systems’¹ can be a huge help.

But of course, that’s not the whole story. So I’d like to point you to fabulous resources from The Alberta Family Wellness Initiative. They have put significant efforts into health promotion and disease prevention based on the neurobiology of addiction. They have been collaborating with The Frameworks Institute for many years on effective science translation messaging, as well. It’s really a terrific one-stop shop for both the science, and its translation to the public.

Hope this is helpful!


¹ See: Different Kinds of Addiction