The Disease Theory IS a Moral Model

Whenever you call a behavior or a lifestyle choice a “disease” you are making a moral judgment about it. If you said that being a member of the Catholic Church was a disease then you would be making a moral judgment against Catholicism. You would be seeking to stigmatize practicing Catholics and to only remove stigma from those who left the church. Likewise the same would be true if you called any religious viewpoint a disease–atheism, agnosticism, Judaism, Islam, what have you. You would be failing to recognize the right of the individual to make their own choices.

The same would be true if you called homosexuality a mental illness–which we did until 1973 when it was VOTED that homosexuality was no longer a disease–it was now a lifestyle choice.

What is true of religion and sexual practices is also true of recreational substance use. All drug use whether caffeine or nicotine or alcohol or heroin or crack cocaine is a lifestyle choice of the user and is protected by the first amendment of the constitution of the United States. The Nixon drug laws and the Harrison tax act are all unconstitutional.

The stages of change model is a good one, unfortunately it is often used in a morally judgmental manner. Choosing to quit heroin is a change that can be described by the stages model. But choosing to start heroin is also a change which can be described by the stages model. No one but the individual has the right to choose which of these changes is a good thing.

The same is true of choosing to drink coffee or use alcohol or smoke cigarettes or engage in homosexuality–it is even true of choosing to join the Catholic Church!

Copyright © 2010, The HAMS Harm Reduction Network


About Kenneth Anderson

Kenneth Anderson is the author of the book How to Change Your Drinking: a Harm Reduction Guide to Alcohol. He is also the founder and CEO of The HAMS Harm Reduction Network.
This entry was posted in disease theory, harm reduction and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to The Disease Theory IS a Moral Model

  1. Pingback: Abstinence vs. Harm Reduction A Clinical and Ethical Analysis | NORML New Zealand Worldwide for Medical Marijuana Law Reform

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