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]

When it was published in 1975, Love and Addiction pre-dated by almost a decade the notion of sex addiction and codependency popularized by authors such as Patrick Carnes, whose Out of the Shadows, one of the earliest popular books to describe sex addiction, came out in 1983, and Melody Beattie, whose Codependent No More was published in 1986. Love and Addiction pre-dated the current popular use of the terms "sex addiction" and "codependency" to describe disorders of love attachment, as these terms were not part of Peele and Brodsky's nomenclature. However, because Love and Addiction was concerned with observing the same condition of addictive human attachments, it has been argued that this is the first book to be written on the subject of codependent relationships.[4]

In reviewing the legacy of Love and Addiction, psychologist Dr. Alex Kwee wrote:

"That experiences can be addictive was a prescient notion in 1975 as psychology now embraces the concept of the process (or behavioral) addictions such as pathological gambling, compulsive eating, and sex addiction. But it must surely be to Peele's dismay that instead of rethinking substance addiction as a medical illness, psychology has gone and classified the behaviors as addictions in the same medical sense and yielded the solution into the hands of the 12-Steps."[5]

Views on alcoholism[edit]

Peele maintains that, depending on the person, abstinence or moderation are valid approaches to treat excessive drinking. In a Psychology Today article which compared the Life Process Program with the disease model,[6] he also argues against the views of Alan Leshner and others that addiction is a disease.[7]

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.[8]

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 a non-12 Step residential treatment program and is now offered as an online treatment resource by Dr. Peele and colleagues.[9]


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.[10]


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.[11]

1994. Alfred R. Lindesmith Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship from the Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, DC,[12]

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.[13]


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.[14]


External links[edit]