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ss triple helix - spring 2012,  Addiction and virtue

Addiction and virtue

Beyond the models of disease and choice
Kent Dunnington
Intervarsity Press USA, 2011
£19.99 Pb 199pp,
ISBN 978 1 84619 186 2

This book explores varying ideas people have about addiction, seeking to advance from the false dichotomy of viewing it as either a disease or a matter of choice, using the works of Aristotle and Aquinas to see it as a 'habit', distinct from instincts and dispositions.

Addiction is considered a modern phenomenon, being adaptive in filling voids created by society moving from community-focused to selfcentred. Other areas explored are addiction's relationship to sin and how it can become a counterfeit form of worship. The final chapter entitled 'Addiction and the Church - the Gospel and the hope for recovery', challenges all Christians: 'We fear that a gospel powerful enough to redeem the addict would also threaten our own lives of decent and decorous mediocrity.'

In the preface readers are rightly warned that the early chapters are the most technical, but provide the foundation for ideas subsequently developed. The book is demanding in the concentration required and also in the message it conveys, but for people with an interest in the field of addiction it is well worth the effort.

Derrett Watts is a consultant addiction psychiatrist at the Edward Myers Centre in Stoke -on-Trent.

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