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Logo of agpsychBioMed Centralbiomed central web sitesearchsubmit a manuscriptregisterthis articleAnnals of General Psychiatry
Ann Gen Psychiatry. 2010; 9(Suppl 1): S16.
Published online 2010 April 22. doi:  10.1186/1744-859X-9-S1-S16
PMCID: PMC2991847

Addiction and guilt

Both the concepts of addiction (drug-addiction) and of responsibility are not universally crystallized and accepted. Even the terms in Greek language are disputable: Toxicomania or exartisis (dependence)? Enoche (guilt) or katalogismos (imputation)? Nosology and Criminal Law disciplines do not share necessarily common definitions about.

The question here is if addiction implies merely incapacity to stop drug use, or even incapacity to choose a legal way to act in general. Is this incapacity an excuse or a mitigation factor, in the field of criminal responsibility?

The answer presupposes some critical differentiations (kinds of crimes seriousness of crime e.t.c). In spite of the complexity, a guideline is simple: where addiction annulates or restricts free will to choose right or wrong doing, responsibility and consequently penalty are affected in favor of the accused actor of a crime. Where this is not the case, a regular punishment is fair.

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