Addiction: A highly successful, essentially contested concept

Anita Borch, Varpu Rantala


Borch, A., & Rantala, V. (2015). Addiction: A highly successful, essentially contested concept. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 4(1), 1-4. doi:

Within two or three decades an increasing use of the concept of addiction has been observed in the media, in expert discourses, in popular culture, and in everyday talk. The concept does not only cover traditional substance use but also a growing range of behaviors like gambling, internet use, sex, eating, work, and shopping. One important reason behind the concept’s “use value” lies most likely in the fact that it can be adapted to so many different situations of contemporary life. The concept also integrates everyday talk with medical and scientific discourse (Room, Hellman, & Stenius, this issue; Valverde, 1998). The scientific sector is supposed to produce the most reliable, transparent, objective, and impersonal knowledge (Warshal, 2010), and as such the concept holds the credibility label of being “made by science.”


addiction; science

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