ASAM's public policy statements guide its advocacy on legislative and regulatory issues.

Short Definition of Addiction

Adoption Date:
April 12, 2011

This policy statement is archived and no longer considered active ASAM policy. Archived statements are available for historical purposes upon request. Please email to request a copy of an archived policy statement.


New Definition: Adopted by the ASAM Board of Directors September 15, 2019 

Addiction is a treatable, chronic medical disease involving complex interactions among brain circuits, genetics, the environment, and an individual’s life experiences. People with addiction use substances or engage in behaviors that become compulsive and often continue despite harmful consequences. 

Prevention efforts and treatment approaches for addiction are generally as successful as those for other chronic diseases. 

Read updated full definition.