How can science help explain ethical issues related to alcohol dependence syndrome?

author: Zdenka Čebašek-Travnik, Univerzitetna psihiatrična klinika Ljubljana
published: Sept. 7, 2015,   recorded: May 2015,   views: 1538


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Talking about addictions put at the forefront the type of dependence, effects of psychoactive substances and therapeutic efforts to reduce the impact of this disease. To rediscover the values of life, we increasingly deal with the ethics – in our case the ethics of addiction, particularly addiction to alcohol. Ethics is becoming an important tool to understand behavior of the addicted person and an indispensable element in all areas dealing with addiction: epidemiology, prevention, motivational processes, treatment and recovery. Some authores claim that alcohol and drug research has a lack of scientificc production related to ethical, legal and social issues. But the advances in neuroscience are changing how mental health issues such as addiction are understood and addressed as a brain disease. Although a brain disease model legitimizes addiction as amedical condition, it promotes neuro-essentialist thinking, categorical ideas of responsibility andfree choice, and undermines the complexity involved in its emergence. Addiction neuroethics raise important ethical questions. Some of them are: (1) Are people who use drugs or alcohol morally responsible for their behavior?, (2) Under what circumstances is it justified to test individuals for drug and alcohol use?, (3) Is it acceptable for health-care professionals to prescribe and keep people on addivtive drugs that are otherwise illegal, and if so, under what circumstances?

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