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Post 20

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 11:59amSanction this postReply
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The droll little troll has had enough to eat for now.  Its time for his shot.



Post 21

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 12:41pmSanction this postReply
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Kat:
OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOH.
Ouch.



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Post 22

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 12:56pmSanction this postReply
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Whether or not one is convinced that addiction is or is not a disease does not make much matter, Andy. The disease model of addiction is just that- it is a model, and it is much more facile and explanatory than your model, which is choice. It's not worth getting hung up on what is and isn't a disease- it works OK to simply look at the conditions of addiction and how they present very much like a disease. Personally, I think addiction, particularly substance addiction, stands in its own category.  It seems to me your thinking follows the lines of thinking Jeffrey Schaler outlined in his book Addiction is a Choice. It created a pretty decent stir in the Libertarian and O'ist communities, mainly because it was telling people exactly what they wanted to hear, and the logic appeared to be flawless. You'd like it, I'm sure of it. Being an addict that was at that time under a great deal of fire from a number of directions, I definitely went out and bought it, and it conformed perfectly to my Objectivist thinking. Well, it definitely looked that way... 

It also did absolutely nothing to afford any help or change. Looking back on it, it kind of reminds me of those places that try to convince homosexuals that they are heterosexuals.

If you have not experienced drug or alcohol addiction (and I hope you have not), there are a lot of things you can't talk about or understand completely. This is not the same thing as saying you have to jump off a cliff in order to know what falling off a cliff means. It means you never jumped off a cliff. This is one reason why some of the only meaningful progress in treating addiction results from the unique experience of one addict talking to another.

Michael's piece is important to me (much, much more so than Schaler's book) because it is one of the first things I have seen that represents substantive, Objectivist influenced writing on the subject by a person living in lengthy recovery. There are, within it, subtle modalities that you will not feel unless you have experienced substance addiction. Period. It is a subjective experience (although he did a mighty fine job of trying to describe it). However, it speaks perfectly fine to those who are trying to understand (or, more importantly, live with) drug or alcohol addicts. It is as close as you will get in a single piece.

Now, from my end, in my case, I describe addiction only a couple of ways. Ultimately, at its core, it is a spiritual sickness (or, sense of life sickness, or existential sickness, if I just offended your atheism). In practice, I tend to refer to it more as a behavior than a disease or sickness. It doesn't really matter, Andy.  

The matter is simple- you can have a highly evolved, appropriate philosophy of life (which of course could only be Objectivism, right? :). You can have laser sharp reasoning. You can have superb will, you can be highly productive. And, you can still be an addict. It is not, primarily, a weakness of resolve, or of will. It is what lies beneath that layer that informs us as to the nature of addiction, and how it might be treated in each case.

best regards,
rde




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Post 23

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 1:35pmSanction this postReply
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Kat,

I won't quote your terse bit of hypocrisy in Post #20.  Because once you've collected your wits, you should have the sense to delete what you have written.  I will say it didn't make me happy.  You had a choice of responding to me rationally or debasing yourself.  You chose the latter.  Who can be pleased with that?

Andy




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Post 24

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:05pmSanction this postReply
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MSK,

It was an interesting article. I think you clarified your position very well, and you were able to communicate what an addict goes through pretty well.

I do have a number of large disagreements with your analysis, however.

First, let's talk about disease. You started off with a definition. “An abnormal condition of an organism or part, especially as a consequence of infection, inherent weakness, or environmental stress, that impairs normal physiological functioning.”

Now how does it hold up as a definition? What kind of things get included? I jokingly mentioned to Lindsay that with that definition, homosexuality could be considered a disease. I can think of a phew phellows that would phind this phunny (they of course think it's just immoral).

The major problem I see is that evasion could count as a disease. I'm not joking here, or trying to twist your words. Your descriptions of addiction actually sound a lot like evasion.

Think about James Taggart. Certainly he's got an overwhelming emotional stress that hits him like a truck, preventing him from thinking clearly about anything. There's an absolute terror involved, probably part of his self-identity as you mentioned, there's the atrophy of long term thinking, and there's a quick fix. Reading your description of addiction is like reading those parts of Atlas Shrugged all over again.

One of the biggest sources of irrationality that I've seen is a short-term focus, almost hedonistic. In my "Path of Most Resistance" article, I talked about "Bob" avoiding breaking up because the short term pain is immediate, and it's easier to keep going. Most irrationality is that way. It's a selective focus, ignoring the larger consequences.

So when you talk about addictions in terms of short term incentives, and long term costs, the problem is that most irrationality is like that. And like my article discusses, the more you participate in the irrationality, the greater the long term consequences and the more stressful it would be to start acting rationally.

So is your definition inadequate? Well, it certainly seems to be. It lumps in conventionally viewed addictions in with all manners of evasion. So then, what is the point of the definition?

One possible point would be to show that since addiction fits into the definition of disease, it must have the characteristics of that concept. Typically, disease is seen as something outside of your control, not something you can be morally blamed for. The reason people normally associate addiction with disease is to prove you are not morally culpable for your continued use/actions by asserting you have no choice in the matter. Or, if you prefer, you're mostly not responsible for your actions. You can blame the addiction, and not yourself.

This fails completely with your definition/description of addiction, since evasion in general would count. Evasion isn't an impairment of volition. It's a use of it.

This brings us to the fundamental problem with this essay, as far as I can see it. You've done nothing to really distinguish your description of addiction with simple evasion and bad choices. Those who argue addiction is a behavior, not a disease, don't argue that you make the choices to act that way without influence. There's recognition that there may be a physical component, like making you very sick when you don't take the drug, and feel very good when you do. They recognize that "addicts" may see it as part of their identity. They recognize that it may be easier to stop acting that way with support from others. And on and on. You've clarified what someone goes through when they're addicted, but it doesn't contradict the arguments of the "addiction is a behavior/choice" group.

Well, there is one part where your description would disagree with theirs. You discuss volition as being impaired by the addiction. That is the significant argument you are making for your view of addiction as a disease. I for one don't think you've made a case for that.

Let's start off with some simple thoughts. Whenever we make choices, we have emotions and influences. The stronger those influences, the tougher it is to go against them. But does that mean volition is being impaired? No, it doesn't. I can't imagine what kind of platonic view of volition would be necessary to make this kind of claim. It would amount to saying that volition can only really exist when there's no choices, or the choices are equal (in other words, you can only choose when there's no real choice to make).

Volition is the ability to choose, and suggesting volition is prevented means that either no choices are being made, or that the "addiction" is making the choices for you. Sounds colorful and metaphorical, but it isn't accurate. Your addiction doesn't drive you to a liquor store. Your addiction doesn't pull money from your wallet and give it to the clerk. You do.

So again, we would need to look at what you're trying to say. Are you saying that addicts have really tough choices ahead of them? I don't know if anyone disagrees there. But the way you phrase it means that one's ability to choose actually ceases.

And this brings us to the heart of the entire debate. What's the real issue? I don't know anyone who's saying that drugs can't create a physical reaction, or adverse reactions when you quit. I don't know anyone who claims that quitting a physically addictive drug is simple and painless. I don't know anyone who disagrees that certain drugs can cloud your judgment temporarily, or do serious brain damage over time. These certainly aren't the matters being debated.

The disagreements involve whether or not the addict still has control. The "addiction is a disease" crowd suggest that the addict is not making choices, is not morally culpable for his actions, and can't possibly quit on his own. They suggest any strong influence, like physical withdrawal pains, make it impossible for the addict to do anything about it on his own, and he needs to be treated like a victim.

I think the primary motivation is to avoid making the addict look like a bad person. If he thinks he himself is bad, he might just stay in his short-sighted world. If people tell him they don't blame him, and the drugs did it to him, he won't have shame pulling him down. That's the theory.

As an aside apply that view to evasion in general. If someone is horribly irrational, does it pay to tell them that they're irrational? Sure, they may not want to listen to you because it makes them look bad, but can they ever change if they don't identify and address the primary cause? But back to addiction.

So the big argument is that the addict is helpless. Maybe, just maybe, one could argue that it's a useful strategy, even if you don't believe it. Suggest the helplessness as a way to excuse the addict, letting him know that if he does kick the habit, he'll be forgiven. Maybe you can think of it as a white lie...for his own good.

The dangerous part is that the addict believes it. If he considers himself helpless, he's always got a convenient excuse to go back to it. Certainly he'll feel he can't overcome it himself, and becomes a sucker for anyone willing to sell him a "cure" for his "disease" (there are plenty of people making a buck, preying on their insecurities). If he does manage to kick the habit, he doesn't gain pride in his accomplishment since it wasn't his (except the weird altruistic pride that comes from being a victim). He'll have to live fear of the dreaded substance. His own mind will be attacking his efficacy, shouting that he's weaker than the addiction. Run away and hide from it. You have to substitute one form of evasion for another.

What's worse is that once the door is opened for drugs that have physically addictive properties (i.e., you have physical withdrawal pains), then it gets pushed open a little more for things like addiction to sex or gambling. And then it's eating chocolate, stealing, being rude, etc. Whatever you want to excuse, you've got a ready excuse. You only have to show that you're the slightest bit motivated to prove that you're helpless, and of course, free from moral judgment.

This debate is fundamentally a philosophical debate on the nature of free will vs. determinism. Those who uphold determinism (that choice is an illusion, and we're controlled by our genes, environment, etc.) have become mainstream in discussions of addiction. Just as people recently said crime was a disease, and the criminals were victims of society. Or "TV made me do it". It's all the same argument...free will is an illusion because we don't live in a world free of influences and motivations. The rest is just nitpicking over degrees.

I can't hope to respond to every one of your points in the article, although I think I've hit the most important ones. If you think I missed something crucial, feel free to let me know. I had some other minor disagreements as well, but nothing at this level.




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Post 25

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:10pmSanction this postReply
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Rich,
In practice, I tend to refer to it more as a behavior than a disease or sickness. It doesn't really matter, Andy.
Not only does it matter, it makes all the difference in the world.  It's the difference between teaching an addict that he possesses the power to kick his habit and letting him fall back upon his old excuse that he his helpless to control his addiction.

While calling it a disease because of the chemical nature of an alcohol or drug addiction, you may get him to stop abusing those substances.  But you fail to address the cause of his addictive behavior.  He will still be an addict unless he makes the conscious decision to control himself.  So the alcoholic becomes a compulsive gambler, for example.  Anyone familiar with addicts will know this sad story of recidivism all too well.

No one can control an addict's self-destructive behavior but himself.  Understanding this is not rocket science, although applying this fundamental lesson of life is usually no picnic.  First, an addict must stop blaming anyone or anything but himself for the behavior that got him in his fix.  The fact that he may be more susceptible than others to a particular addiction is no excuse.  He should have been more careful once he saw he was not handling alcohol, for instance, like others do.  Second, he has to take responsibility for his recovery.  No one else can make the decision to stop the conduct that is destroying him.  Finally, he must accept that, fair or not, his addictive personality is his cross to bear even after he kicks whatever abusive habit is presently plaguing him.  The only control he has over that is his will.

I also find it good counsel to the addict to avoid the therapeutic culture entirely, even after his recovery.  Because his addiction is his own and because he controls it through his own will, he owes it to no one to keep apologizing for it through public confession.  It is his private affair, and he is allowed to put it behind him.

Andy




Post 26

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:13pmSanction this postReply
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quote You had a choice of responding to me rationally or debasing yourself.  You chose the latter.  Who can be pleased with that?
 Actually, I am pleased with it. The minor disillusionment that I had about SOLO has been destroyed. I was operating under the assumption that it was a place to rational adults to discuss philosophical ideas. This thread is turning into a pissing contest with ad hominem attacks. Frankly, I am disgusted.

Addiction is a behavioral choice, not a disease. It is really no different than nymphomania, or even Internet bullying. It is a model based on choices.

Andy, you've been on 100% in this thread. MSK, I read the article, there are a lot of elements of truth to it. There are also a lot of subjective ideas to it. Thank you for sharing it nonetheless.




Post 27

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:15pmSanction this postReply
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Rich Engle,

I haven't contributed to this thread (yet), but your last post said so many things that I agree with (especially your evaluation of Jeffrey Schaler's extended screed) that I have to commend it.

I find it odd how many rationalist Objectivists continue to bring in their uninformed opinions about addiction and continue to bandy these opinions around as if these opinions are informed by any first-hand experiences with addiction or the treatment of addicts!

Laj




Post 28

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:17pmSanction this postReply
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An excellent response to Michael's article, Joe.  You crystallized it for me with this statement ...
This debate is fundamentally a philosophical debate on the nature of free will vs. determinism.
Andy




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Post 29

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:17pmSanction this postReply
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Well, you know, Andy- here's the thing:

Surely, that was a cruel thrust on Kat's part. But, at least she attacks from the front. That's pretty much how women fight, they are generally street-fighters, especially when somebody's playing picky-picky with their husband.  She's not debasing herself. She absolutely thinks you're a troll, probably along one of the troll guidelines established by Adam Reed. I can't speak for her, but it's likely she at least views you as one of the more advanced models.

That stuff about mysticism and disease really shows some limitation. The limitation of an Ortho-Objectivist. The limitation of dogmatic knee-jerking. It was a hell of a stretch. And, quite frankly, I don't think you know jack shit about mysticism in the first place, other than within the confines of reading Rand, who, as much as I dearly love her, didn't know jack shit about mysticism either- you were either a witch doctor, or you were not. I'm not even sure she knew that much about witch doctors, either. I wish she had constructed something more specific for her meaning. Maybe something that acted like Jerry Falwell.

And then, you stick in that little bit about your "New Puritan" model, which was a very vague, nebulous piece of work anyway, and somehow tried to link that to Michael, because he spoke openly and with actual experience (get the "actual" part, Andy?) about addiction. He was not confessing. Clearly, the man has no need for confessing. His concerns are those of a person who wants to see a problem licked. Your "New Puritan" is a prejudicial work, because it was a work of pigeonholing and stereotyping. It reflects contempt. Your general tone reflects contempt. Some come here purely for sport, or to impress with their debating prowess. Is that you? I hope not.

There is, in fact, a unique, individual consciousness, a unique individual experience, one that shares many commonalities with other humans. Such is the case with addiction, as well. You have either experienced the devastation of drug/alcohol addiction, or you have not. If you have not, blessed be, but you also have great limitations as to what you can honestly say about it. Mainly, it will involve how you experience it, if you happen to live with, love, or be friends with an addict. And that is something you can speak of with experience. You can talk to others having similar experiences.




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Post 30

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:39pmSanction this postReply
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Andy, you've been on 100% in this thread.
Thanks, Donald.

It is unfortunate that some people must take hearty disagreement as a personal insult.  I take no joy in Kat's dismal behavior and Rich's weird esteem for it.  But, I'm not going to walk on eggshells around to avoid giving anyone offense.  I think what I have to say is worthwhile (or I wouldn't bother), and say nothing with any malice (even if some here must work hard to read my posts that way).

One last note:  I don't share your disappointment with the tenor of SOLO.  I think it's good to have a fairly broad mix (at least as far as Objectivism is concerned) of participants.  It's good to have to get back to basics on well-developed ideas you have to communicate to others who aren't so well-versed.  And I get the same back-to-basics benefit for things I'm not too familiar with.

Andy




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Post 31

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:46pmSanction this postReply
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Laj,
I find it odd how many rationalist Objectivists continue to bring in their uninformed opinions about addiction and continue to bandy these opinions around as if these opinions are informed by any first-hand experiences with addiction or the treatment of addicts!
On what basis do you assume that those of us who disagree with "addiction is a disease" do not have this experience?  Have you considered the possibility that some of us value our privacy and that of others over providing bona fides to the hyper-empiricists who believe you can know nothing unless you've experienced it?

And what would be the worth of such bona fides tendered over the internet?  Something close to zero, right?  So, we're all back to making arguments that are rational and can be comprehended by anyone without regard to any particular experience.

Andy




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Post 32

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 2:53pmSanction this postReply
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Rich,
But, at least she attacks from the front. That's pretty much how women fight, they are generally street-fighters, especially when somebody's playing picky-picky with their husband.
I see you understand women about as well as you understand addiction.
She absolutely thinks you're a troll, probably along one of the troll guidelines established by Adam Reed. I can't speak for her, but it's likely she at least views you as one of the more advanced models.
I see you've mastered mind-reading too.  (Can you tell me what I'm thinking of your post right now?)
That stuff about mysticism and disease really shows some limitation. The limitation of an Ortho-Objectivist.
Yes, you're right, Rich - about anyone not limited by petty little things like facts.

Andy




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Post 33

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 3:29pmSanction this postReply
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How does "One Objectivists View" equate with, as some suggest, subjectivism? Furthermore, is the thrust of Michaels article really about addiction as a disease? I think not. It is about *one* persons experience and recovery from it with a description of the process.

I could quibble with Michael about the disease model, but I can't argue with the approach he has taken in understanding what happened to him. I also can't argue with his recovery.

I don't see Michaels article pretending to be the definitive statement on addiction. Its just his story, and I thank him for telling it.

John



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Post 34

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 3:36pmSanction this postReply
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John:
Why, you fucking heretic! How dare you thank someone in this forum for sharing his story of personal triumph and attempting to explain the nature of addiction without beating people of good will over the head with it! You fucking heretic! Don't you realize you need to nitpick that shit to death instead of exhibiting any morsel of empathy or gratitude? Fuckin' A! Let's all gang up on this bastard Michael and flog the cretin for his perceived errors of logic and rationality! Go, Andy, go!
(Edited by Jamie Kelly
on 9/20, 3:39pm)




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Post 35

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 3:44pmSanction this postReply
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Michael, good article, and a "bonk" for calling for OBJECTIVE solutions to addiction. This observation really caught my eye: that "Objectivists must turn to religion or other places because there is nothing -- simply nothing useful available from an Objectivist perspective that works."
I think I have the answer to why this is. Thomas Szasz, the notorious anti-psychiatrist, celebrated Carl Jung over Sigmund Freud because Freud tried to medicalize mental problems, while Jung asserted that what they were doing was closer to religion than medicine. Rand rejected the Freudian school ("I can tell you what causes depression", blaming bad epistomology over chemical inbalances.) Jung refered to problems with living as problems with the Soul, a result of the ego's separation from the Self. Rand's argument is a secular similarity to Jung's.

Without getting caught up in the catfight over addiction as disease or choice, I just want to offer one request: that if this is going to be an ongoing topic here, that the ideas of Thomas Szasz be discusses, since it sounds like much of the anti-disease theories are based on his approach, which fit with Rand's. I've noticed the name Jeffery Schaler, who is associated with Szasz, mentioned often in this matter by Abolaji and Jeff Riggenbach, so it might be helpful to go to the source.
The reason why I bring up Szasz is not only because of his insistence on mental illness as a metaphor/myth, but because he bases that idea on what seems to be a mind/body dichotomy. He clearly separates brain diseases from mental diseases and believes that any behavioral problems are based on choices or malingering. But though he has sympathy with many of Rand's views on state coercion of psychiatry, he condemns her and,more vehemently, Nathaniel Branden, who clearly stated that he disagreed with Szasz about the myth of mental illness, for their acceptance of psychiatry. (In FAITH AND FREEDOM, he attacks Rand for her acceptance of neurosis as a disease treatable not by philosophy but as the subject of a "special science".)
I am mixed regarding Szasz myself; I appreciate his fight against state involvement with psychiatry, but can't accept fully his idea of mental illness as myth without knowing more about the mind/brain connection. Personally, I think there is an interplay where one affects the other, if mind is a manifestation of the brain. Still, I think wrestling with this problem may be the key for Soloists and Objectivist to find the objective solution regarding matters of addictions, and mental illness in general.


(Edited by Joe Maurone
on 9/20, 6:40pm)




Post 36

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 4:23pmSanction this postReply
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I have a hard time accepting Andy as a troll. His posts are being sanctioned an average of over 2 1/2 times each.

--Brant




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Post 37

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 4:39pmSanction this postReply
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I agree with Joe & I think his post should go up as an article. Joe Rowlands, I mean. MSK's article has considerable merit (especially when compared to the one he originally submitted!:-)) but I also think it's mistaken in the way Joe has nailed.

The recovered addicts here (& their lovers & cheerleaders!) should settle down & not get so defensive & belligerent. The non-addicts are not "stigmatising" them. Nor do they do anything but rejoice that the addicts have recovered. They applaud the addicts for having done so. The proviso to which the addicts seem to take such exaggerated exception is this: The fact remains that the addicts got themselves addicted by choice in the first place. Yes, addiction is insidious & it creeps up on one, but the decision to take the substance in question in the first instance & to keep taking it once addicted was the addict's. Equally, the decision to break the addiction was the addict's. And while that decision is laudable, it doesn't entitle the addict to hero status any more than it disqualifies non-addicts from having an opinion on the matter! So let's have less of this victim-turned-hero, recovered-addicts-are-an-elite-&-only-they-may have-a-view-&-non-addicts-lack-compassion crap!

Linz

PS—And let's also avoid the Brandbourne Christian Temperance Union mindset that sniffs around for any opportunity to pronounce the enjoyment of any naughty substance at all an "addiction." Such folk have their own addiction. They're addicted to addiction-mongering. They are miseryholics.



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Post 38

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 5:31pmSanction this postReply
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"I find it odd how many rationalist Objectivists continue to bring in their uninformed opinions about addiction and continue to bandy these opinions around as if these opinions are informed by any first-hand experiences with addiction or the treatment of addicts!"

- Abolaji Ogunshola

Well, I'm not exactly an Objectivist, though Ayn Rand has certainly been a major influence on my thinking, but I did use cocaine for seventeen years (1974-1991), a considerably longer time than MSK ever did, and I have been a non-user for fourteen years now. And here's my "uninformed opinion":

I think drug addiction is not a disease, but a bad habit. Bad habits can be hard to break, especially for people like me, who have a lifelong history of almost always choosing immediate gratification over deferred gratification. But bad habits are bad habits, not "diseases." MSK says consciousness is "in" our bodies, specifically our brains, and therefore it's biological and can get diseased. This is like saying that since vision is in our bodies, specifically our eyes, it's therefore biological and can get diseased. Therefore, if I habitually hold a piece of wood up in front of my eyes so that I can't see anything, though there's no identifiable disease attacking either of my eyes, I have a "vision disease." This is ludicrous.

Addiction is not a disease; it's a choice. Jeff Schaler's book, Addiction Is a Choice, is the best one available on its subject. Schaler is right that the disease model of addiction is a "scientifically worthless fantasy." He's right that AA is a "religious cult" and that you can't treat a "disease" by mandating attendance at meetings of a religious cult. He's right that treatment doesn't work. As he puts it, "This doesn't mean that individuals never give up their addiction after treatment. It's simply that they don't seem to do so at any higher rate than without treatment. One treatment tends to be just about as effective as any other treatment, which is just about as effective as no treatment at all."

When I quit cocaine, I used no treatment at all. I was being evicted from my apartment in Southern California because it was going condo and I had no money to buy it or to move elsewhere because I'd spent it all on cocaine. So I called my sister in Texas and asked her if I could move into the old rental house she owned that I knew was currently standing empty. It needed some work and wasn't, in my sister's judgment, fit to rent, but in my judgment it was livable enough for my purposes. After my sister granted my request, I borrowed some money from my mother, rented a truck, and talked my brother and my brother-in-law into coming from Texas and helping me load the truck and drive it back to the Lone Star State. I lived in Texas for eighteen months all told -- most of 1991 and most of 1992. By the time I came back to California in the Fall of '92, I no longer craved cocaine.

All I had done, of course, is remove myself from an environment in which it was easy to obtain cocaine. Similarly, when I lost more than a hundred pounds in 1992-1994, I did it by not keeping any food in the house. If I wanted food, I had to go out and get it. Just putting myself in a situation in which I had to overcome some minor difficulties to get my food made it a whole lot easier for me to resist the temptation to eat. Similarly, moving to a place where I knew no one who might have access to cocaine made it just hard enough to get the stuff that I was able to resist the temptation. That's really all there was to it.

JR



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Post 39

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 - 5:42pmSanction this postReply
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Joe Maurone asked to hear something about Thomas Szasz's ideas on this thread.

Okay. This is from his 1973 book The Second Sin: Some Iconoclastic Thoughts on Marriage, Sex, Drugs, Mental Illness, and Other Matters. I consider it one of the most profound observations I've ever read on the subject of "addiction."

"Powerful 'addictions' -- whether to smoking cigarettes or injecting heroin -- are usually both very difficult and very easy to overcome. Some people struggle vainly against such a habit for decades; others 'decide' to stop and are done with it; and sometimes those who have long struggled in vain manage suddenly to rid themselves of the habit. How can we account for this? Not only is the pharmacology of the so-called addictive substance irrelevant to this riddle, but so is the personality of the so-called addict. What is relevant is whether 'the addiction' -- smoking, drinking, shooting heroin -- is or is not part of an internally significant dramatic production in which the 'patient-victim' is the star. So long as it is (and if it is, the struggle to combat the addiction is only a part of the play), the person will find it difficult or impossible to give up his habit; whereas once he has decided to close down this play and leave the stage, he will find the grip of the habit broken and will 'cure' himself of the 'addiction' with surprising ease." (pp. 64-65)



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