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Stanton Peele, Ph. D., J.D., (born January 8, 1946) is a licensed psychologist, attorney, practicing psychotherapist and the author of books and articles on the subject of alcoholism, addiction and addiction treatment.[1]


1989. Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies Mark Keller Award for Alcohol Studies for his article "The limitations of control-of-supply models for explaining and preventing alcoholism and drug addiction," JSA, 48:61-77, 1987.[2]

1994. Alfred R. Lindesmith Lifetime Achievement Award for Scholarship from the Drug Policy Foundation , Washington, DC,[3]

1998. Creation of the Annual Stanton Peele Lecture, 1998, by the Addiction Studies Program, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia.

2006. Lifetime Achievement Award, 2006, International Network on Personal Meaning, Vancouver.[4]


Peele is the author of nine books including, Love and Addiction (1975), The Meaning of Addiction (1985/1998), Diseasing of America (1989), The Truth about Addiction and Recovery (with Archie Brodsky and Mary Arnold, 1991), Resisting 12-Step Coercion (with Charles Bufe and Archie Brodsky, 2001), 7 Tools to Beat Addiction (2004), and Addiction-Proof Your Child (2007), as well as 200 professional publications.

Love and Addiction

Peele began his critique of standard notions of addiction when he published Love and Addiction (coauthored with Archie Brodsky).[5] According to Peele's experiential/environmental approach, addictions are negative patterns of behavior that result from an over-attachment people form to experiences generated from a range of involvements. Most people experience addiction to some degree at least for periods of time during their lives. He does not view addictions as medical problems but as "problems of life" that most people overcome.[citation needed] The failure to do so is the exception rather than the rule, he argues.[6]

Views on alcoholism

Peele maintains that, depending on the person, abstinence or moderation are valid approaches to treat excessive drinking.Psychology Today article which compared the Life Process Program with the disease model[7], he also argues against the views of Alan Leshner and others that addiction is a disease.[8].

Views on 12 Step Treatment

In a co-authored book, Resisting 12 Step Coercion (2001), Peele outlined his case against court mandated attendance of twelve-step drug and alcohol treatment programs. He argued that these treatment programs are useless and sometimes harmful, he presented research on alternative treatment options, and accused some addiction providers of routine violation of standard medical ethics.[9]

Peele has taken to task the views of John DeLuca, and his executive assistant, Loran Archer whom he noted (neither of whom had a research background), when they offered their own summary of the second Rand report, their views emphasized that abstinence ought to be the goal of all alcoholism treatment and that AA attendance offered the best prognosis for recovery, statements which the Rand report explicitly rejected. The second Rand report (Polich et al., 1981) responded systematically to criticisms of the original report; the investigators found substantial numbers of what they termed "nonproblem" drinkers.[10][11]

In a more recent assessment of Alcoholics Anonymous Peele asserts that "AA remains a religiously rooted folk movement that closely resembles the l9th-century American Protestant revivalism from which it sprang. As such, AA's success is not one of clinical outcomes but of public relations and cultural appeal for contemporary evidence of its success it relies on personal testimonies ....As a cultural mechanism for reducing alcohol problems, AA has achieved a very overrated status[12]

As a result of Peeles articles the Edgehill-Newport clinic closed because insurers refused to pay its bills.[13]

"In The Truth About Addiction and Recovery (1991) and 7 Tools to Beat Addiction (2004) Peele laid out the elements of alternative treatment. He developed these ideas as the Life Process Program, which is the basis for the non-12 Step residential treatment offered at the St. Gregory Retreat Center [14]

He has presented both a comparison between the Disease Model and the Life Process Model

The Disease Model

1.Alcoholism is inbred

2.Everyone gets the same therapy

3.Focus on drinking

4.Person must accept he/she is alcoholic

5.Therapy and goals are dictated to person

6. Person with drinking problem must be alcoholic

7.Abstinence is only resolution for a drinking problem

8. Primary social supports are fellow alcoholics

9.Person must always think self as alcoholic.

Life Process Model

1.Person uses alcohol permanent trait to cope with life

2.Treatment is tailored to individual

3. Focus on problems, not labels

4.Person participates in therapy goals and plans

5.There are all kinds of drinking problems

6.Focus on coping

7.Improved control and successful relapse reduction sought as well as abstinence

8.Primary social supports: work, family, friends

9.Person need not think of self as alcoholic.


Peele also asserts for many treatment is not necessary and in his review makes his key points.

Vaillant reported that over 60 percent of those who overcame their alcoholism didn't enter any kind of treatment, including AA. Later in the decade, research by Kaye Fillmore, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, found that from 60 to 80 percent of problem drinkers stopped abusing alcohol, usually without treatment Canadian addiction research investigators Linda Sobell, Ph.D., and Mark Sobell, Ph.D., recently reported that more than three-quarters of randomly selected adults in a national study who had recovered from alcohol problems for a year or more did so without formal help or treatment. According to Helzer and the ECA study, over half of all problem drinkers who stop abusing alcohol do so within five years of the start of their problem—usually by reducing their drinking, not quitting altogether.

America's alcohol treatment industry attacks the idea of self-cure, saying people who believe they've recovered on their own are in denial.



Lindesmith Center (now the Drug Policy Alliance): grant to write an adolescent drug guide (1996).

Distilled Spirits Council (DISCUS) and the Wine Institute: unrestricted grants (1999–2000).


Peele supported Moderation Management founder Audrey Kishline, who also subscribed to the belief that addiction is not a disease.[17] She gave up moderation mangement and attended Alcoholics Anonymous, a while later Kishline was convicted of killing a father and his 12-year-old daughter while driving under the influence of alcohol.[18] Interestingly this was suggested to invalidate Kishline's position and by association, Peele's. Peele was one of 34 addiction professionals who published a statement about the Kishline incident [19] stating that "the approach represented by Alcoholics Anonymous and that represented by Moderation Management are both needed."

In a review of The Meaning of Addiction, Addiction researcher Dr Griffith Edwards stated the following about Peele's work:

"With these and other issues treated in cavalier fashion, with referencing highly incomplete and crucial work often ignored, one begins to feel that this is a book where polemic and scholarship have become inextricably and unhappily mixed. ... Peele is not only a psychologist of distinction, but someone who can make use of sociological and biological ideas. ... So there's the dilemma."
—Griffith Edwards, Review of The Meaning of Addiction.[20]


  1. Curriculum Vitae Stanton Peele
  2. Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies
  3. Alfred R. Lindesmith Award for Achievement in Scholarship, Drug Policy Foundation
  4. Stanton Peele's Curriculum Vitae
  5. Love and Addiction
  6. Stanton Peele's Approach
  7. Recovering from an All-or-Nothing Approach to Alcohol
  8. Hungry for The Next Fix: Behind the relentless, misguided search for a medical cure for addiction
  9. Peele, Stanton "Resisting 12 Step Coercion" Book Online :
  10. Peele, Stanton "Denial — of Reality and of Freedom — in Addiction Research and Treatment"
  11. Peele, Stanton "When the Sheriff Gets Into Town"
  12. Peele, Stanton " Commentary on the Lay - Treatment Community
  13. Peele,Stanton "Why and by Whom the American Alcoholism Treatment Industry is Under Siege"
  15. Peele, Brodsky, and Arnold, The Truth About Addiction and Recovery (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991), p. 174.
  16. Peele, Stanton "Recovering from an All-or-Nothing Approach to Alcohol
  17. Kishline, Audrey, Moderate Drinking, Crown Trade Paperbacks, 1994,
  20. Griffith Edwards. The Meaning of Addiction (book review). British Journal of Addiction, Dec85, Vol. 80 Issue 4, p447-448.

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