Interview with Dr. Stanton Peele
Dr. Stanton Peele is a prominent figure in the addiction field. He has written several books on the matter, and has been a leading researcher in addictions beyond drugs and alcohol. He also maintains an addiction blog on Psychology Today's website. Here, we ask him a few questions about him and his work.
AllTreatment: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Dr. Peele: I live in Park Slope — a fairyland — Brooklyn, where I can take the subway directly to NYC to see movies, or my two daughters who live and work there, or else transfer out to Queens to see my son and his two children, Cassius and Imogen. Sometimes, Cassius is naughty.
AT: How did you become interested in addictions?
Dr. Peele: Perhaps because I was taught to value self-control, I was always fascinated by people who were out of control of themselves — so as a 5-year-old, I peppered my mother with questions about an alcoholic man who had to be dragged home babbling night after night (when I get my Nobel Prize, I plan on waving it towards heaven to thank her).
AT: On your blog, you say that addiction is “the thematic malady for society.” How so?
“Examine the key areas of your life — health, love, family, work, education — and try to do something positive regularly and for the long run in each of them — if you do, your addiction will likely quit itself.”
Dr. Peele: When I wrote Love and Addiction in 1975 with Archie Brodsky, people thought heroin was addictive, and that was it. The decades since have been a backfilling by society — cocaine, marijuana, cigs, really the recognition that all drugs may be addictive — and, now, finally, DSM-V proposes to identify the first non-drug addiction — gambling. I expect shortly to be recognized for having been a half century ahead of the American Psychiatric Association.
AT: Have the nature of and attitudes towards addictions changed since you first started your work?
Dr. Peele: It's become the hottest topic — when I was in college and grad school there were no addiction courses — just pat courses on drugs. I picked a hot topic that will not only never go away, but will only grow hotter.
AT: Many people probably don’t connect the feeling of love with addiction, but Love and Addiction argues that they can indeed be linked. What factors have you seen in love that cause you to believe so?
Dr. Peele: When women get beat up and refuse to leave their boyfriends/spouses, who are often substance abusers, they say, "I can't — I love him."
AT: Are there any other addictions that you cover that people might be surprised to know about?
Dr. Peele: Well, the addiction America has to believing addiction is a disease, which has produced no benefits, but which is still considered the cutting edge of research and theory (they'll get over it — like most people outgrow addictions on their own).
AT: From a psychological standpoint, what advice do you have for those struggling with addiction?
Dr. Peele: Examine the key areas of your life — health, love, family, work, education — and try to do something positive regularly and for the long run in each of them — if you do, your addiction will likely quit itself.
Thank you for sharing your insight with us, Dr. Peele. Certainly addiction can extend beyond simply drugs and alcohol.