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Bruce Alexander

October 16, 2007

"Bruce Alexander has successfully integrated the academic and socio-political spheres of his life. In the process he has become a public intellectual and has frequently been vilified for his activist stances. His willingness to withstand the brickbats of firmly entrenched public opinion to the contrary and to confront it with carefully reasoned and empirically supported objections makes him a most worthy recipient of the Sterling Prize."  … from a letter of nomination

Bruce K. Alexander, professor emeritus of psychology at SFU, whose research discoveries and communication skills have brought science-based facts and measured commentary to the intensely polarized discussion of drug addiction and its effects on people and communities, is the 2007 winner of the Sterling Prize for Controversy.

Dr. Alexander has devoted the last 25 years to developing and defending his "adaptive" view of human addiction. Some regard addictions as moral failings, others as violations of religious beliefs, but most see addiction as a physical or psychological malfunction that requires medical intervention, public health measures, and the forces of law and order. The adaptive model posits that addictions result from failure to achieve the level of social acceptance, competence, self-confidence and personal autonomy required of individuals in the society in which they live.