A Scientific Life on the Edge:
My Lonely Quest to Change How We See Addiction
Stanton Peele wrote the most important addiction book of the 20th Century: Love and Addiction. His memoir is the most important addiction book of the 21st Century.
Stanton Peele has created a very different kind of addiction book—a memoir of his tumultuous career in the addiction field interwoven with his personal life story. Peele has formulated and applied (in a wide range of contexts) a conception of addiction—and its prevention and treatment—centered on a person’s life experience in their social environment. This has set him in opposition to the demonization of drugs. But he also opposes the ostensibly humane but actually disempowering notion of addiction as a disease. This wrongheaded idea views addiction as if it existed only in a person’s brain and body and not in the person’s mind and soul—and community.
Stanton has fought this battle for half a century as an independent scholar with no institutional position or funding. He has lived his life the same way he practices his profession—principled, adventurous, purpose-driven, and always “on the edge.” He tells this tale with bold confidence and defiance about his ideas and values, yet with often humorous self-awareness.
“Stanton Peele is a true pioneer of addiction research and theory. His ideas must be reckoned with by anyone who is serious about understanding addiction.”
— Maia Szalavitz, Author, Unbroken Brain, A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
“I want people to understand that these ideas are not new. And I'm not the person who invented them. People like Stanton Peele deserve more—most—of the credit.”
— Carl Hart, Ph.D., Author, Drug Use for Grown-Ups; Professor, Neuroscience and Psychology, Columbia University
“Stanton Peele has done as much as anyone to reveal the inadequacies, absurdities, and injustices of the idea that addiction is a disease and, specifically, that it is a disease of the brain. In a constant flow of influential books, articles, and blogs over more than forty years, he has persuasively extended the critique of the disease theory of addiction beyond the scientific community to the general public. When the disease theory is eventually replaced by a more rational and humane approach in the popular understanding of addiction, Stanton Peele will be first in line to receive the plaudits, and those of us who broadly share his view will owe him a profound debt of gratitude.”
—Nick Heather, Ph.D., Emeritus Professor of Alcohol & Other Drug Studies, Northumbria University, UK
“The modern understanding of addiction and recovery begins with Love and Addiction.”
— Tom Horvath, Ph.D., Past President, SMART Recovery®
“Stanton Peele had it nailed in the 1970s. We should’ve listened then. The disease model has been a slippery slope for many of our families who are held hostage by an addiction treatment industry that has acted as an arm of the industrial prison complex—ensnaring and diverting its victims into an abstinence-driven model where failure to comply is sanctioned, criminalized, and shamed.”
— Carol Beyer, cofounder, Families for Sensible Drug Policy