Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in Scholarship, Drug Policy Foundation

November 19, 1994

Stanton Peele is the 1994 recipient of the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for achievement in the Field of Scholarship. He is being honored for his prolific work, which has brilliantly challenged mainstream beliefs and stimulated new ways of understanding drugs and behavior related to drug use.

Stanton Peele began his attack on popular conceptions of addiction in 1975, with the publication of Love and Addiction. This book argued that addiction could not be defined biologically, since so many personal relationships may become addictive. After 1975, Stanton focused on drugs, alcohol, and more conventional addictions. He still played a highly controversial role by pointing out that most drug use is not addictive, that alcoholics and other addicts go through periods of remission and relapse, and that addiction is highly dependent on users' positions in life, their environments, and their social relationships.

This approach put him in direct conflict with the dominant disease model of addiction, which relies on internal, biological and pharmacologic determinants. In particular, his arguments that moderation approaches may work in many cases drew the wrath of Alcoholics Anonymous and its enforcers, losing him speaking engagements and creating waves of protest. Another of his observations — that addicts and alcoholics often outgrow their substance abuse problems — was likewise a red flag to the alcohol and drug treatment industry. Part of his theme was that, as a culture, we have lost our sense of responsibility. Today, we are able to construct disease-based explanations for any crime or human misfortune.

Although Dr. Peele's work has always been provocative, many of his ideas have eventually been adopted by mainstream specialists. For teaching us all that we have more personal power than we may sometimes think, the Drug Policy Foundation is honored to present the Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in the Field of Scholarship.