After four years of work involving 80 experts, the American Society of Addiction Medicine is redefining addiction—to alcohol, drugs, sex, gambling, and more—as a brain disorder, updating its former classification as a behavioral problem, reports Live Science. Addiction is also now considered a primary and chronic disorder, meaning it is not the result of stress, abuse, or other causes, and it needs to be treated over a patient's lifetime, just as one would deal with a chronic disease like diabetes.
ASAM officials were swayed in part due to advancements in neuroscience over the last 20 years, which have shed light on the fact that the brain circuitry that regulates impulse control and judgment is altered in addicts' brains. "We have to stop moralizing, blaming, controlling or smirking at the person with the disease of addiction," said an addiction researcher. "The disease is about brains, not drugs." (Read more addiction stories.)