Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science




Psychology - General

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Harry Whitaker

Second Advisor

Dr. Paul Andronis

Third Advisor

Dr. Terry Delpier


The nomenclature used to signify substance dependence has evolved throughout history. Previously, substance dependence was referred to as specific forms of mania, as addiction, and as a habit. The origins of the disease concept of substance dependence have been disputed. Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) and Thomas Trotter (1760-1832) have been credited as being the founders of the movement to acknowledge substance dependence as a disease. Through efforts of scientists of the 19th and 20th centuries, the concept of substance dependence as a disease has become widely accepted by professionals, the medical community, and the government. Significant contributors to this concept include T. D. Crothers (1842-1918) and E. M. Jellinek, (1890-1963) as well as groups such as the World Health Organization, American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the American Psychiatric Association. Criticisms (Gori, 1996; Jellinek, 1960; Peele, 1989) of this concept include the vagueness in definitions in addition to changes of these definitions of substance dependence over time. Considering substance dependence to be a disease is of importance due to the stigma often associated with the condition, which can be a barrier to treatment. Government policy has acknowledged substance dependence as a disease that requires treatment. Recognition of substance dependence as a disease has evolved over time and is advancing through further research on the subject.

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