Brief of Amici Curiae of 11 Addiction Experts in Support of Appellee

58 Pages Posted: 5 Oct 2017

See all articles by Gene M. Heyman

Gene M. Heyman

Boston College - Department of Psychology

Scott O. Lilienfeld

Emory University - Emory College of Arts and Sciences

Stephen Morse

University of Pennsylvania Law School

Sally Satel

American Enterprise Institute (AEI)

Date Written: September 2017

Abstract

This brief is a critique of the brain disease model and many supposed implications of that model. It begins with a brief history of the model and moves to a discussion of the motivations behind the characterization of addiction as a “chronic and relapsing brain disease.” We follow with an enumeration of fallacious inferences based upon the brain disease model, including the very notion that addiction becomes a “brain disease” simply because it has neurobiological correlates. Regardless of whether addiction is labeled a brain disease, the real question, we contend, is whether the behavioral manifestations of addiction are unresponsive to contingencies. We then present an overview of data demonstrating that addiction is a set of behaviors whose course can be altered by foreseeable consequences. The same cannot be said of conventional brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s or multiple sclerosis. The best scientific and clinical data we have do not support the view that addicts are unable to refrain from using substances by choice. By “choice” we mean the product of the capacity to respond to incentive and reasons, which obviously varies among addicts but which are virtually never entirely lost. Data amply show that addicts retain that capacity. Finally, we demonstrate how a decision in favor of the probationer could have significant implications for the future of treatment-based approaches to criminal justice, as well as for criminal responsibility more generally. We conclude that the probationer’s claim should be denied because it rests on refuted scientific premises and will have negative consequences if it is accepted.

Keywords: Criminal Law, Probation Violation, Addiction, Substance Use Disorder (SUD), Brain Disease Model, Brain Changes, Alteration of Behaviors, Choice, Capacity to Change Behavior, Treatment-Based Approaches to Criminal Justice

Suggested Citation

Heyman, Gene M. and Lilienfeld, Scott O. and Morse, Stephen J. and Satel, Sally, Brief of Amici Curiae of 11 Addiction Experts in Support of Appellee (September 2017). U of Penn Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 17-44. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3047859 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3047859

Gene M. Heyman

Boston College - Department of Psychology ( email )

Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
United States

Scott O. Lilienfeld

Emory University - Emory College of Arts and Sciences ( email )

Department of Violence Studies
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

Stephen J. Morse (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )

3501 Sansom Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

Sally Satel

American Enterprise Institute (AEI) ( email )

1150 17th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20036
United States

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