In the project ‘Addiction in the brain: Ethically Sound Implementation in Governance (A-BRAIN)’, an international research consortium aims to identify the apparatus of views surrounding the Brain Disease Model of Addiction (BDMA), in order to develop sound governance to apply the BDMA into practice.
Addiction is a worldwide public health issue with devastating consequences for society and the addicted individual.In the United States and Canada alone, approximately 21 million people of 12 years and older are addicted to alcohol or other substances(Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, 2013). The excessive use and abuse of alcohol, illicit drugs, non - prescribed medication, and tobacco, equals more than 700 billion dollars annually in costs associated with crime, loss of work, homelessness, and health care (Department of Health and Human Services, 2014; National drug threat assessment, 2011).
Given these disturbing numbers and consequences, it seems that after decades, centuries even, of efforts to reduce addiction, for instance by penalizing addictive behaviours, failed to produce satisfactory results. Recent research has provided convincing evidence that addiction might better be regarded as an acquired or developed disease of the brain.
A-BRAIN studies the articulation and spread of the BDMA in different contexts: public media; scientific community, experts and policy-makers; prevention programs; and clients and staff in addiction treatment. Methods employed are surveys, group interviews and media content analysis. The international research consortium executing this project will develop guidelines for the implementation of neuro-scientific research into the praxis of dealing with addictions in society.
These guidelines take into account ethical considerations as well as the perspective of various groups concerned with addictions. The project will also develop and test a new instrument of measurement of attitudes towards the BDMA and how the BDMA can used to better inform youth about addiction, the origin and the consequences of addictive behaviours. Thus, whether the BDMA can contribute in developing (more) effective interventions target addictive behaviours and preventing addiction among adolescents.