Stanton Peele's Body of Work

2010 marks the sixth decade in which Stanton has been publishing books and articles on addiction, alcoholism, and related areas of social science, psychology, mental health, and alcohol consumption. His publications now number over 250. His first article appeared in 1969. In the more than 40 years since then, his writing has appeared in the major social scientific, psychological, and addiction journals. Not only has he written for Psychology Today and had articles and books excerpted in airline magazines and Cosmopolitan, but he has even published three pamphlets with the 12-step publishing houses CompCare and Hazelden. Today, Stanton writes blogs for the Huffington Post and Psychology Today. He appears on network TV programs like Fox & Friends. At the same time, he has published articles in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Public Health, and several articles in American Psychologist. His writings and books, such as The Meaning of Addiction, continue to be actively used in university courses to convey major new directions in addiction thought and treatment.

Following is a list of Stanton's key writings and the impact of these writings. Stanton has written ahout defining addiction, addictive love relationships, fighting the disease theory of addiction, self-cure of addictive problems, the benefits of moderate drinking, drug and alcohol policies and, most recently, raising non-addicted children, teaching children positive drinking habits, and creating non-disease, "life process" addiction treatment programs.

Highlights of Stanton Peele' Writings


  • (with Stan Morse) "On studying a social movement," Public Opinion Quarterly 33:409-411. This funky piece describes how two researchers studied 1960s Vietnam protesters on the move.


  • (Morse & Peele) "A study of participants in an anti- Vietnam War demonstration, Journal of Social Issues 27:113- 136. Study of 1967 anti-Vietnam war protestors in Washington. Protestors were not less patriotic than non-protestors, but considered active protest to be an obligation of patriotic citizens. Study utilized innovative methodology of administering surveys on the buses protestors rode to Washington (see Peele & Morse, "On studying a social movement," Public Opinion Quarterly, 33:409- 411, 1969). All research Peele conducted with Morse, a fellow graduate student, was as a student at the University of Michigan.
  • (Morse & Peele) ""Coloured Power" or "Coloured Bourgeoisie"?: A survey of political attitudes among Coloureds in South Africa," Public Opinion Quarterly 38:317- 334.  A study of the Coloureds -- or mixed race -- South Africans. Some expected Coloureds, as a better-educated people of color than black Africans, to lead non-white opposition to white rule. Instead they identified with whites and wish to get ahead in the existing power structure. Article won prize from Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues.


  • (Peele & Brodsky) "Love can be an addiction," Psychology Today, August, pp. 22- 26. First article to discuss addictive properties of love, and the precursor to the co-dependence movement.


  • Love and Addiction(Peele with Brodsky) Love and addiction (Signet/NAL, now Penguin Books). First full-length book to describe addictive properties of love. Underlying idea of love as an addiction was a model of addiction to an experience which provided a unifying way of viewing drug, gambling, love and other addictions. This book was mass-marketed and excerpted in Cosmopolitan, as well as being excerpted in Classic Contributions in the Addictions, a graduate text at Harvard Medical School. Fifteen years after its publication, in 1990, The Nation reviewed L&A as the best book on codependence.


  • "Redefining addiction I: Making addiction a scientifically and socially useful concept," International Journal of Health Services 7:103- 124. Analysis showing that putative biological mechanisms could not account for addictive behavior.


  • Is there a solution for addiction? Calgary, Edmonton: Alberta Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Commission.  Stanton's first Keynote Address, to the Annual Conference of the Canadian Addiction Research Foundation. Significantly, it was given outside the U.S.
  • "Addiction: The analgesic experience," Human Nature, September, pp. 61-67. This article, published in an offshoot that wished to be a more sophisticated Psychology Today, announced the experiential analysis of addiction, and was the first to draw critical attention to the need to redefine the meaning of addiction in light of the Vietnam heroin experience.  Nick Cummings, director of the Kaiser Permanente HMO clinical psychology service, called attention to the article in delivering his inaugural address as president of the American Psychological Association.


  • "Redefining addiction II: The meaning of addiction in our lives," Journal of Psychedelic Drugs 11:289- 297. Presented a model of addictive experiences and defining criteria.


  • The addiction experience (Hazelden). This pamphlet was published by the 12-step publishing arm of Hazelden's treatment center. It describes the inner experience of addiction. It had marked success on the Hazelden list for 9 years, until the editor-in-chief of Hazelden publications decided they could no longer publish Stanton's views.


  • "Reductionism in the psychology of the eighties," American Psychologist 36:807- 818. Explained how psychology can never be resolved into biological mechanisms. Presented a critical framework which has continued to apply to developments in psychology -- and addiction -- up to the present.


  • "Through a glass darkly," Psychology Today, April, pp. 38-42. This article explained the underlying issues in the Mary Pendery et al. Science attack on controlled-drinking researchers Mark and Linda Sobell, basically defending the Sobells. The National Council on Alcoholism and Pendery had targeted the Sobells for years. Pendery et al. emphasized relapse incidents in the CD group, talked exclusively to patients who had "converted" to AA since the treatment, and ignored the standard hospital abstinence comparison group. 60 Minutes piled on with a show retailing Pendery's views.
    Stanton's article was published in the first issue of PT after it was purchased by the American Psychological Association. In the resulting furor, the Texas Commission on Alcoholism tried to rescind Stanton's engagement to deliver the keynote speech to the Texas Summer School on Alcoholism, and he lost most of his speaking engagements for the next five years.
  • "Out of the habit trap," American Health, September/October, pp. 42-47. This article, in a mass-publication magazine, pointed out that most people quit addictions without treatment. It thus prefigured the study of natural remission that has become a growth industry in addiction/alcoholism research. This article was bought for reprint by Reader's Digest, but at the last minute was dropped when RD discovered T. George Harris had also sold the article to Eastern Airlines for its in-flight magazine. At the same time, Richard Lazarus included it in his academic anthology, Stress and coping.
  • Review of George Vaillant's The natural history of alcoholism for the New York Times Book Review, June 26. Pointed out that the data were often at odds with the case descriptions -- and conclusions -- leading Stanton to be deeply skeptical about this work, as renowned as it is.



  • The Meaning of AddictionThe meaning of addiction (Lexington, now Jossey-Bass). Book presenting an entire non-reductive, experiential model of addiction. Became a major nondisease text, including use at Harvard. Dr. Margaret Bean-Bayog (who surrendered her medical license in a case involving the suicide of a patient who had in his possession sado-masochistic sexual fantasies Bean-Bayog had written) said the book "worried" her in a review in the New England Journal of Medicine and asked for people who felt the same way to contact her.
  • "Behavior therapy — the hardest way: Controlled drinking and natural remission from alcoholism," In G.A. Marlatt et al., Abstinence and controlled drinking: Alternative treatment goals for alcoholism and problem drinking? Bulletin of the Society of Psychologists in Addictive Behaviors 4:141-147. With remarkable effrontery, Stannton announced at a conference of behavior therapy, before the leading international controlled-drinking researchers, that their methods were only pale imitations of people's capacity to reduce drinking on their own. Among those who must have been listening surreptitiously where Mark and Linda Sobell, who devoted the subsquent part of their career to studying natural remission of alcoholism.



  • "The limitations of control-of-supply models for explaining and preventing alcoholism and drug addiction," Journal of Studies on Alcohol 48:61-77. A critique of the so-called Ledermann curve and claims that reducing levels of drinking at large -- or attacking drug supply routes -- will greatly reduce substance abuse. This article was presented the 1989 Mark Keller Award from the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies as the best article in JSA.
  • "A moral vision of addiction: How people's values determine whether they become and remain addicts,"  Journal of Drug Issues 17:187-215. Claims that moral issues -- in the form of values -- are central to the issues of addiction and remission.
  • "Running scared: We're too frightened to deal with the real issues in adolescent substance abuse," Health Education Research 2:423-432. Analysis of the negative consequences on the young of America's fear and loathing of drugs.
  • "Why do controlled-drinking outcomes vary by country, era, and investigator?" Drug and Alcohol Dependence 20:173-201. An innovative applied-anthropological analysis of variations in CD outcomes in terms of the researchers' backgrounds. Suggestions for matching client and clinician outlooks in alcoholism treatment.
  • (Stanton Peele, Ed.) Visions of addiction: Major contemporary perspectives on addiction and alcoholism (Lexington, now Jossey-Bass). An original compilation of disease, social-learning, genetic, adaptive, etc. views of addiction.


  • "Fools for love: The romantic ideal, psychological theory, and addictive love," In R.J. Sternberg's (ed.) The anatomy of love, Yale University. Calls psychologists to task for buying into romantic love as fully as the most moonstruck teen.
  • "Can we treat away our alcohol and drug problems or is the current treatment binge doing more harm than good?" Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 20(4):375-383. This critique of American treatment created a furor, including a series of ad hominem attacks on Stanton Peele written by John Wallace, director of treatment at the Edgehill Newport Hospital (now defunct), distributed to all alcoholism counselors in the U.S.


  • Diseasing of AmericaDiseasing of America (Lexington, now Jossey-Bass). Popular book explaining the movement in America toward disease theories of behaviors and their negative consequences for law, morality, and social and individual health. Widely reviewed, largely positively, including JAMA, Health Affairs, American Health, Psychology Today, Psychiatric News, and JSA.
  • "Ain't misbehavin': Addiction has become an all-purpose excuse," The Sciences, July/August, pp. 14-21. A description of modern misconceptions about -- and misuses of -- the addiction concept.


  • "Addiction as a cultural concept," Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 602:205-220. A short history of the addiction concept, detailing its shifting meaning and its fundamental value.
  • "Why and by whom the American alcoholism treatment industry is under siege," Journal of Psychoactive Drugs 22:1-13. Further fun with John Wallace and the treatment community.


  • The truth about addiction and recovery(with Archie Brodsky and Mary Arnold), The truth about addiction and recovery (Simon & Schuster). A practical nondisease approach to addiction, based on the methods both of self-curers and of effective motivational, skills-training, and community-based therapies. Used by chapters of Rational Recovery, Moderation Management, and SMART Recovery.
  • "What works in addiction treatment and what doesn't: Is the best therapy no therapy?" International Journal of the Addictions, 25: 1409-1419. The ineffectiveness of popular addiction/alcoholism therapies.


  • "Alcoholism, politics, and bureaucracy: The consensus against controlled-drinking therapy in America," Addictive Behaviors 17:49-62. Examination of how Peter Nathan, as the director of the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies, and other behaviorists ditched controlled drinking as a therapeutic goal when it jeopardized funding. This article, which was responded to by Nathan and current clinical director at Rutgers, Barbara McCrady, has proved prophetic. Rutgers eventually created a brief intervention, reduced drinking clinic, which practices a client-centered motivational approach like that Stanton advocated. As a result, Rutgers was dropped as a fundee by the Smithers Foundation. McCrady emphatically denies being influenced by Stanton in these developments, claiming his "think" piece in no way affected her thinking, but that only subsequent research guided her in this direction.



  • (Harburg, Gleiberman, DiFranceisco & Peele) "Towards a concept of sensible drinking and an illustration of measurement," Alcohol & Alcoholism 29:439-50. An examination of healthy variations of drinking styles. Empirically, the study showed with the Tecumseh community population that incorporating drinking-related psychosocial factors predicted hypertension better than did a simple measure of level of alcohol consumption.


  • (with Rich DeGrandpre) "My genes made me do it: Debunking current genetic myths," Psychology Today, July/August, pp. 50-53; 62-68. This article lays bare the whole skeletal framework of vast genetic claims about behavior that dominate current scientific and popular thinking.
  • "Controlled drinking versus abstinence," In J. Jaffe (Ed.), Encyclopedia of drugs and alcohol, New York: Macmillan, pp. 92-97. This entry in the Encyclopedia lays out the empirical basis and practical methods for utilizing a self-determinative model for selecting alcohol treatment goals.


  • "Assumptions about drugs and the marketing of drug policies," In W.K. Bickel & R.J. DeGrandpre (Ed.), Drug Policy and Human Nature, NY: Plenum, pp. 199-220. Analysis of prevailing images/models of drugs and their action, and how to market superior alternative images/models.
  • "The results for drug reform goals of shifting from interdiction/punishment to treatment," PsychNews International, 1(6) (presented at 10th International Conference on Drug Policy Reform, Washington, DC, Nov. 6-9, 1996). The popular idea that we should just shift funds wasted on drug interdiction and imprisonment of drug users to treating drug users has a wide array of hidden costs and will not accompish the goals of drug reform, or positive goals of any sort.



  • "All wet: The gospel of abstinence and twelve-step, studies show, is leading American alcoholics astray," The Sciences, March/April, pp. 17-21. In this brilliant rearrangement of conventional thinking, Stanton turns on their ear the claims by Enoch Gordis and the NIAAA that Project MATCH shows just how well our conceptions and treatment of alcoholism work, and appropriately shows how this study and other NIAAA research actually reveal the emptiness of modern conceptions of alcoholism.
  • (Peele & DeGrandpre) "Cocaine and the concept of addiction: Environmental factors in drug compulsions," Addiction Research, 6:235-263. Stanton and Richard DeGrandpre review human and animal research against the claim that cocaine is such a powerful reinforcer that it invariably causes the organism with unlimited access to self-administer the drug to the exclusion of all other activity and reward, often until death. In place of this model, Stanton and Rich apply behavioral economic research and models which show that animals balance the opportunities for available rewards, among which cocaine appears to be a strong but far from overwhelming or unique example. They contrast their view with that of Nobel prize-winning economist Gary Becker, who rather than suggesting an economic model of behavior instead imagines that drugs create a biologically compelling state that drives the addict's behavior.
  • "Ten radical things NIAAA research shows about alcoholism," The Addictions Newsletter (The American Psychological Association, Division 50), 5(2), pp. 6; 17-19. In the popular science periodical put out by the New York Academy of Sciences and the newsletter of the addiction division of the American Psychological Association, Stanton turns Project MATCH and other NIAAA and mainstream research on their ears to show that alcoholism cannot be dealt with as a medical disease. Instead, such research shows, even highly dependent drinking is an interchange between drinker and environment, shifts considerably over time, allows for moderated drinking, does not particularly respond to treatment (and almost not at all to standard, overly-aggressive 12-step therapy that dominates the American treatment scene), and responds best to brief helping interactions in which the drinker is the principal actor.


  • "The fix is in," International Journal of Drug Policy, 10:9-16. Stanton addresses the fundamental bankruptcy of the liberal revisionism of U.S. drug policy, as expressed in the idea that we only need to treat more people and everything will be fine. Missing, among other things, in this formula are the masses of drug users who don't need to be treated for anything, but who are at risk for being sent to prison, and the majority of addicts and abusers who have already been exposed to treatment and support groups, at massive expense, but whose status remains the same.
  • "Promoting positive drinking: Alcohol, necessary evil or positive good?" In: S. Peele & M. Grant (Eds.), Alcohol and pleasure: A health perspective, Philadelphia: Brunner/Mazel, pp. 1-7. Stanton here tackles the highly divergent underlying images that individuals and cultures bring to the drinking experience. If social learning determines so much of drinking outcomes, how is it possible to get a hold of these governing images for public health purposes? What is clear is that, in the U.S. today, alcohol policy is counterproductive, failing to teach young people healthy drinking but at the same time failing to induce them to abstain, even as they agree drinking is bad.