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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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Correspondence to Nikolaos Paraskevopoulos.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Paraskevopoulos, N. Addiction and guilt. Ann Gen Psychiatry 9, S16 (2010).

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  • Public Health
  • Critical Differentiation
  • Common Definition
  • Criminal Responsibility
  • Mitigation Factor