Addiction: The dance between concept and terms Academic Article uri icon


  • Room, R., Hellman, M., & Stenius, K. (2015). Addiction: The dance between concept and terms. The International Journal Of Alcohol And Drug Research, 4(1), 27-35. doi: paper discusses the relation between a concept of addiction and the terminology used for its communication, drawing on and analyzing historical citations from the Oxford English Dictionary. The history of words used in English illustrates that terms for a concept change over time, often by an existing word being repurposed. “Addiction” as a term existed prior to the contemporary concept, but with a descriptive meaning that did not carry the explanatory power intrinsic in the modern variant. So its use as a word for the modern conception of the addiction phenomenon was delayed well beyond the emergence of the concept. The experience in English of interplay between concept and terms is discussed in the context of two frames: of influence in both directions between medical and popular concepts and terms, and of cross-cultural variations in the concept and of terms for it.

publication date

  • 2015