Speaking truth to power in addiction: Addiction through the lens of power


Reviews the book, Power, Powerlessness and Addiction by Jim Orford (see record 2013-19410-000). Orford starts this book with three case studies of alcohol addiction, drug addiction, and gambling addiction. What is unusual about these case studies is that they go beyond any individual characteristics to larger ecological spheres, all seen through the lens of power. After describing the individual's behavior in the context of disempowerment and power relationships, Orford then discusses how the individual's families and friends are disempowered by addiction; in the case of drug addiction, he discusses how government policies, the drug trade, and police corruption decrease the individual's power. Orford ends the section on case studies with a note that individuals revealed to be powerless are nevertheless the ones who are blamed. Power, Powerlessness and Addiction is an important and challenging book. It will be especially interesting and useful for those working in substance use disorder prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and public policy. I will be returning to it in my teaching and scholarship.

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