Continuing the discussion from my previous post:
While Richard Beck may share some of Peter Hitchens' skepticism about the "disease" model of addiction, he also understands that the matter is too complicated for mere moralizing. According to Beck:
We tend to moralize addiction when we frame it as a choice. Addiction, if it's a choice, is a sin and the addict is viewed as a bad person.
A key advantage, then, of viewing addiction as a disease--as a brain pathology--is that it marshals sympathy for the addict. Viewing addiction as an illness lowers moral accountability. We shift to treating addicts rather than blaming them.
There are two good reasons for viewing addiction as a disease. First, there appear to be biological correlates for addiction, genetics that appear to make some brains more susceptible to addiction. Second, addicts report a degree of compulsion that give the impression that, in the grip of addiction, their ability to exercise rational control has been compromised.
The general consensus among medical and mental health professionals is that addiction is a disease. And yet, this consensus is controversial and contested. Many professionals working with addiction think the disease model is wrong, and perhaps even harmful.
Regardless, if addiction is a disease it is a really weird disease...most addicts recover from addiction and when they do it's often without any medical intervention. Some addicts just stop cold turkey.
Those cold turkey testimonies seem to reinforce the "choice" model of addiction. And yet, addiction is accompanied by such overwhelming and self-destructive compulsions that it's unlike anything resembling a rational choice.
In short, addiction is a paradox, falling somewhere in that murky interface between voluntary (choice) and involuntary (disease).
I refer the reader once again to Romans, chapter 7, for the best articulation of the anguished soul caught in life's "murky interface" between good intentions and inexplicably self-defeating actions.