Personal Autonomy, Addiction and Mental Disorder (completed)
The aim of this project was to examine how addiction impacts the autonomous agency and mental health of addicts.
About the project
Although there are different views of, precisely, what make some condition a mental disorder, one common feature of many of these views is the claim that a necessary requirement is that the condition is characterized by a certain sort of impairment of "normal" autonomy. In this project our aim was to examine how addiction impacts on the autonomous agency and mental health of addicts.
Our hypothesis was that drug addiction is characterized by an impairment of normal autonomy and that it should be counted a mental disorder. However, we believed it was time to break down the divide between the medical and moral thinking about addiction: even if addiction is a disorder that involves compulsive patterns of behavior, this does not mean that addicts have little or no control over their addictive drug use.
Using philosophical analysis in combination with data from our own empirical study, as well as other sources of evidence, we wanted to develop a new conceptual model to study autonomous agency and the effects addiction has on such agency.
The project improved our understanding of the ethical issues raised by public policies, practices and treatments in the field of addiction. It also improved what we know of the factors contributing to addiction as well as to recovery. The project:
- Examined how drug addiction impacts on the autonomous agency and mental health of drug addicts.
- Developed a new conceptual model to study autonomous agency and the effects drug addiction has on such agency.
- Determined whether drug addiction should count as a mental disorder (or illness).
- Investigated how we can help drug addicts become more autonomous.
- Assessed whether heroin addicts are sufficiently autonomous to consent to the medical prescription of heroin as part of treatment.
- Made recommendations for ethical and effective policies and practices in the addiction field in the light of our findings.
The project was carried out in cooperation with SIRUS, Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences and Frischsenteret.
The project was hosted by the completed Centre for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN).