What Is Addiction? How Can Animal and Human Research Be Used to Advance Research, Diagnosis, and Treatment of Alcohol and Other Substance Use Disorders?

Warren K. Bickel, John C. Crabbe, Kenneth J. Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


The current article highlights key issues in defining, studying, and treating addiction, a concept related to but distinct from substance use disorders. The discussion is based upon a roundtable discussion at the 2017 annual meeting of the Research Society on Alcoholism where Warren K. Bickel and John C. Crabbe were charged with answering a range of questions posed by Kenneth J. Sher. All the presenters highlighted a number of central concerns for those interested in assessing and treating addiction as well as those seeking to conduct basic preclinical research that is amenable to meaningful translation to the human condition. In addition, the discussion illustrated both the power and limitations of using any single theory to explain multiple phenomena subsumed under the rubric of addiction. Among the major issues examined were the important differences between traditional diagnostic approaches and current concepts of addiction, the difficulty of modeling key aspects of human addiction in nonhuman animals, key aspects of addiction that have, to date, received little empirical attention, and the importance of thinking of recovery as a phenomenon that possibly involves processes distinct from those undergirding the development and maintenance of addiction.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6-21
Number of pages16
JournalAlcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2019



  • Addiction
  • Alcohol Use Disorders
  • Animal Models
  • Behavioral Economics
  • Compulsive Use
  • Substance Use Disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Toxicology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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