Stanton Peele

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Stanton Peele, Ph.D., J.D., (born January 8, 1946) is a psychologist, attorney, psychotherapist and the author of books and articles on the subject of alcoholism, addiction and addiction treatment.[1]


Peele is the author of twelve books including, Love and Addiction (1975), The Meaning of Addiction (1985/1998), Diseasing of America (1989), The Truth about Addiction and Recovery (with Archie Brodsky and Mary Arnold, 1991), Resisting 12-Step Coercion (with Charles Bufe and Archie Brodsky, 2001), 7 Tools to Beat Addiction (2004), Addiction-Proof Your Child (2007), and "Recover! Stop Thinking Like a Addict" (with Ilse Thompson, 2014), as well as 250 professional publications.

Love and Addiction[edit]

Peele began his critique of standard notions of addiction when he published Love and Addiction (coauthored with Archie Brodsky).[2] According to Peele's experiential/environmental approach, addictions are negative patterns of behavior that result from an over-attachment people form to experiences generated from a range of involvements. Most people experience addiction to some degree at least for periods of time during their lives. He does not view addictions as medical problems but as "problems of life" that most people overcome. The failure to do so is the exception rather than the rule, he argues.[3]

Views on alcoholism[edit]

Peele maintains that, depending on the person, abstinence or moderation are valid approaches to treat excessive drinking. Psychology Today article which compared the Life Process Program with the disease model,[4] he also argues against the views of Alan Leshner and others that addiction is a disease.[5]

Views on 12 step treatment[edit]

In a co-authored book, Resisting 12 Step Coercion (2001), Peele outlined his case against court mandated attendance of twelve-step drug and alcohol treatment programs. He argued that these treatment programs are useless and sometimes harmful, he presented research on alternative treatment options, and accused some addiction providers of routine violation of standard medical ethics.[6]

In The Truth About Addiction and Recovery (1991) and 7 Tools to Beat Addiction (2004) Peele laid out the elements of alternative treatment. He developed these ideas as the Life Process Program, which was the basis for the non-12 Step residential treatment offered at the St. Gregory Retreat Center [7] and is now offered as an online treatment resource by Dr. Peele and colleagues.[8]


Peele supported Moderation Management founder Audrey Kishline, who also subscribed to the belief that addiction is not a disease.[9] After giving up her own attempts at moderation to seek help with AA, Kishline was convicted of killing a father and his 12-year-old daughter while driving under the influence of alcohol.[10] This was widely claimed to invalidate Kishline's position and by association, Peele's. Peele was one of 34 addiction professionals who published a statement about the Kishline incident [11] stating that "the approach represented by Alcoholics Anonymous and that represented by Moderation Management are both needed."

Peele also supported A Million Little Pieces author James Frey, even after the alleged memoir was found to be riddled with fictional stories. [12] Peele continued to assert that Frey was a real addict and alcoholic, and that Frey had overcome his alleged addiction and alcoholism without treatment or involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous.[13]

In a review of The Meaning of Addiction, Addiction researcher Dr Griffith Edwards stated the following about Peele's work:

"With these and other issues treated in cavalier fashion, with referencing highly incomplete and crucial work often ignored, one begins to feel that this is a book where polemic and scholarship have become inextricably and unhappily mixed. ... Peele is not only a psychologist of distinction, but someone who can make use of sociological and biological ideas. ... So there's the dilemma."

—Griffith Edwards, Review of The Meaning of Addiction.[14]

In an article written by Peele entitled "The Seductive (But Dangerous) Allure of Gabor Mate" he criticizes Dr. Mate's view of addiction by citing an epidemiological study that in actuality corresponds with Mate's view that adverse childhood experiences increase the risk of addiction later in life. "In our detailed study of over 17,000 middle-class American adults of diverse ethnicity, we found that the compulsive use of nicotine, alcohol, and injected street drugs increases proportionally in a strong, graded, dose-response manner that closely parallels the intensity of adverse life experiences during childhood." [15]

"Unfortunately, however, Maté is fundamentally proposing a reductionist vision of addiction, where abuse history and posited biochemical changes are now THE essential causes of people's self-destructive action. It is not enough to say that this model is highly conjectural. It also isn't true -- that is, it makes little sense of the data. Vincent Felitti conducted a huge epidemiological study on early childhood experiences. He found that only a tiny group (3.5%) of people with 4 or more adverse childhood experiences became involved in injection drug use. So Maté's model is highly undiscriminating. " [16]


1989. Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Mark Keller Award for Alcohol Studies for his article "The limitations of control-of-supply models for explaining and preventing alcoholism and drug addiction," JSA, 48:61-77, 1987.[17]

1994. Alfred R. Lindesmith Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship from the Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, DC,[18]

1998. Creation of the Annual Stanton Peele Lecture, 1998, by the Addiction Studies Program, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

2006. Lifetime Achievement Award, 2006, International Network on Personal Meaning, Vancouver.[19]


Lindesmith Center (now the Drug Policy Alliance): grant to write an adolescent drug guide (1996).

The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), and the Wine Institute provided unrestricted grants.[20]


External links[edit]