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severalog

Social animals

J. Harry Caufield

This editorial in Nature makes some very definitive claims about what should and shouldn't be done about addiction research. That isn't really my field - I don't work with any organism capable of addiction as we understand it - but the steadfast stance is a worrisome one. Without quoting anything, here's the TL;DR: "Animal-rights protesters claim addiction is a social problem and use that to support how we shouldn't use animals in addiction research. Scientists have shown addiction is a disease so we need to keep using animals in addiction research."

The stance is myopic at best and logically erratic at worst. The dichotomy of "disease vs. social problem" really doesn't do anything toward understanding or treating addiction. Neither does banning animal research, whether wholesale or specifically in the context of addiction research. Equating animal research directly with physical disease paradigms is little more than a knee-jerk reaction to the similarly over-reactive policies promoted by the animal-rights folks. There is unquestionably a social component and ignoring this component should not be sacrificed in favor of a hard-line stance on animal model use.

On a related note, this history of opiod addiction treatment is interesting.