Bioethics and Medical Ethics
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AbstractScientists and philosophers have been puzzling over the root of addiction for centuries. In the past, addiction was seen as a moral failing, a choice and an inevitability for certain people. Since then, science has shown us that social circumstance and physiological dependency are much better explanations for why addiction develops and persists. This has come into the conversation surrounding the current American opioid epidemic. It is spoken about in medical terms and is being addressed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, both of which would not be possible without defining addiction as a disease. Addiction is more effectively treated when it is approached as a disease, rather than a crime or a result of ethical bankruptcy. From a rule utilitarian perspective, the most good will come from emphasizing the medical treatment of addiction rather than the criminal punishment. Americans should employ this rule and maintain the illegality of recreational opiate use; as a result, unnecessary deaths can be avoided, economic losses can be recovered and we will be taking a step in the right direction as we grapple with one of the most major health crises our country faces today.