Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Psychological Science


Psychological Science (MS)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Dr. Harry Whitaker


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.

Access Type

Open Access

Included in

Psychology Commons