Are You Addicted?


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by Jeffrey Schaler, Ph.D. 

"[Addiction] is not a disease. And it is not involuntary. And it is not a thing that causes people to engage in certain behaviors." Click on the picture for more on this book, and check the FORCES Bookcase!

Szasz on drug abuse as disease, excerpted from The Bought Mind:

"Nobody called Churchill or Roosevelt an addict. Now they would be called nicotine addicts. So addiction is not a descriptive term, it is a stigmatizing term which is culturally conditioned. And it reflects not a property of the drug, but a property of the culture. So in sum, drugs cannot cause addiction."

- Dr. Thomas Szasz

"Using, abusing, and not using drugs are decisions. Using a drug (or sex) solely for the purpose of giving oneself pleasure used to be called a "sin" by Puritans, and a "bad habit" by persons less certain about God's will. They were on the right track. Drug abuse is neither a disease (except metaphorically), nor a crime (unless we make it so). Drug abuse is a problem of desire: if people did not want drugs, there would be no drug users and no drug abusers. The desire for drugs has its source in two of the now all-but-forgotten "deadly sins," lust and gluttony. People lust after the pleasures drugs can give, and abuse drugs as gluttonously as they abuse food, sex, and often other people." 

- Dr. Thomas Szasz

Click here for an interesting debate on addiction theory.

Preface by FORCES

If you like to smoke, drink or eat chocolate, just sit in your favourite chair, get out some of your favourite addiction stuff and read this paper, written in accessible language, yet highly documented.

Learn about the addiction myth - or should we say the addiction scam" Although the paper (click on full title, below) analyses mainly nicotine, the addiction "theory" is applicable to anything imaginable. There are very many definitions of addiction - all equally flawed and meaningless, for addiction simply does not exist: public health is trying to reduce gluttony to figures and percentages, thus arrogantly attempting to reduce human beings to quantum entities. This pathetic attempt may serve the agendas of pharmaceutical industries and opportunist politicians, but it is not reality. People are not addicted: they simply make choices based on cost-benefit, and rewards. They are not sick, and they don't need any cure by the Therapeutic State. Unloading personal responsibility on others seems to be the unfortunate excuse of a spoiled generation, that has chosen to point the finger at anyone or anything to justify its guilt for overindulgence -- and its legitimate desire for pleasure and joy of living. That makes today's society rabidly puritanical. We don't readily recognize this, since our new puritanism is superficially different from the old, having become more open about sex and having removed religious and overtly moral references from the discussion. Instead we have the language of health, language about the body, not the spirit. It's a self-deception.

Below are a few excerpts from an eye-opening paper.

Nicotine as an addictive substance: A critical examination of the basic concepts and empirical evidence

Source: Journal of Drug Issues 
Publication date: 2001-04-01


Alarmist views of cannabis are now considered quaint, whereas tobacco use is currently portrayed as a deadly addiction.
The fact that no momentous new evidence or theoretical developments have appeared suggests that political and legal considerations have taken precedence over scientific considerations considerations (Davies, 1997; Epstein, 1990; Kutchins & Kirk, 1997; Pandina & Huber, 1990; Peele, 1991; Sullum, 1998).
As long as smoking is portrayed as an inexorable addictive process, the success of cessation programs will be limited by a self-fulfilling prophecy (Coleman, 1976; Drew, 1986; Fingarette, 1979; Fingarette, 1981; Fingarette, 1990; Jensen & Coambs, 1994; Schwartz, 1992).
Addiction is used to describe behaviors ranging from injecting heroin and cocaine, to smoking or chewing tobacco, drinking coffee, eating chocolate, shopping, watching television soap operas (Jaffe, 1992), and falling in love (Griffin- Shelley, 1993). There are reports of addiction to water (Kaplan, 1998), cardiac defibrillators (Fricchione, Olson, & Vlay, 1989), carrots (Cerny & Cerny, 1992; Kaplan 1996), hormone replacement therapy (Bewley & Bewley, 1992), and numerous other unusual entities (Glatt & Cook, 1987; Griffin-Shelley, 1993; Hodge, 1992; Robinson, 1997; Solursh, 1989). The clinical literature is replete with examples of people who develop unfortunate, even destructive, relationships with a great many substances, objects, events, and people ( American Psychiatric Association, 1994). 
It has yet to be demonstrated that nicotine can exert more control over behavior than that exerted by any of scores of innocuous substances and events. Moreover, smoking is almost always done along with something else. The fact that smoking enhances a broad range of abilities (Pritchard & Robinson, 1994) suggests that the user's behavior is not controlled by the substance.
Certain religions prohibit smoking on the Sabbath, and even the heaviest smokers report no difficulty in observing this rule (Shiffman, 1991). It is difficult to imagine a molecular dysfunction of the brain that respects the Sabbath.
Under certain circumstances, nearly every substance taken by man is psychoactive. Merely being detectable could mean psychoactive (Goudie, 1991). This is another part of the definition that is so over-inclusive as to be meaningless. 
In the 1964 report on smoking and health, the Surgeon General stated unequivocally that nicotine was not addictive (Ruxton & Kirk, 1997). In 1988 he reversed this view (US Department of Health and Human Services, 1988). There were no scientific or clinical breakthroughs in this interval, but there was a great deal of legal and political activity (Jones, 1992; Peele, 1992; Seltzer, 1997; Taylor, 1984; Vallin, 1984; Warburton, 1994b).
The fact that the combined efforts of thousands of scientists and legislators for fifty-odd years have not produced a single rigorous definition suggests that they may be trying to define an undefinable. 
Nicotine meets some of the criteria for being psychoactive, although even here there is a good deal of definitional uncertainty.
However, being psychoactive is a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for abuse potential. A large number of psychoactive substances have no abuse potential. 
Nicotine does not produce anything like intoxication. Indeed, nicotine facilitates many cognitive and motor functions (Damon et al., 1997; Levin, Briggs, Christopher, & Rose, 1992; Rusted, Graupner, & Warburton, 1995; Rusted & Warburton, 1995; Warburton 1994c, 1994d; Warburton & Arnall, 1994). According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse criteria, nicotine is not psychoactive.  ... Thus nicotine self- administration is a poor model of even the alkaloid aspects of smoking.


... Thus, the primate dose is 15150 times higher than humans typically self-administer while smoking.
The most common nicotine dose used in rodent self-administration studies is 30 (mu)g/kg (Chiamulera, Borgo, Falchetto, Valerio, & Tessari, 1996; Corrigall & Coen, 1991 a), which is over 40 times higher than typical human self-dosage. Studies in which nicotine is given as a pre-treatment use even higher doses. In one such study, rats were given 400 (mu)g/kg, which is over 500 times higher than humans selfadminister in a single puff and more than twice as much as even very heavy smokers self-administer nasally over the course of an entire day (Tonnesen, Mikkelsen, Norregaard, & Jorgensen, 1996).
If laboratory species will voluntarily take a drug, it is assumed that humans will too.
...However, in marked contrast to humans, smoking in infrahuman primates can only be established by coercive procedures (Ando, Hironaka, & Yanagita, 1986). Moreover, once established, smoking in primates does not produce any evidence of a habit; they stop at the first opportunity (Swedberg, Henningfield, & Goldberg, 1990; Wood, 1990). 
...Smoking does not appear to be reinforcing for laboratory primates. 
For example, Singer and Wallace (1984) show maximum nicotine self-administration rates that are scarcely greater than those supported by saline. This is far from being compulsive drug use. Animals will quickly learn to press a lever thousands of times per hour to get cocaine (Iwamoto & Martin, 1988; Ward et al., 1996). With nicotine, the highest self- administration rates ever reported in rats are around 25 per hour (Corrigall & Coen, 1989). ... . Woolverton (1992) has shown that monkeys respond at rates greater than 20 per hour for saline. 
There are two notable exceptions to the normally sluggish performance seen in nicotine self-administration experiments. Monkeys pressed a lever for a brief visual stimulus occasionally accompanied by an intravenous injection of nicotine (Goldberg, Spealman, & Goldberg, 1981). This second-order schedule produced lever-press rates much higher than anyone has ever reported for nicotine. However, there are a number of points that temper the usefulness of these data. First, three of the four monkeys had been previously trained on a similar schedule for cocaine. Additionally, in the absence of the signal, the monkeys performed as vigorously when the drug was no longer available. This suggests an extremely strange phenomenon. The peculiarity of these findings is further indicated by the fact that they have never been replicated. A single, well- controlled and replicable instance of vigorous nicotine self- administration would greatly strengthen the reinforcement thesis, yet no such instance exists. 
Monkeys are capable of extraordinarily vigorous operant behavior. However, this vigor can also lead to interpretational difficulties. Monkeys may respond at extremely high rates for almost anything. They may make hundreds of thousands of responses to self-administer painful electric shocks (McKearney, 1968). This paradoxical behavior illustrates the problems in interpreting operant behavior. To infer reinforcement processes, let alone hedonic experience or addiction, from operant behavior requires numerous and tenuous assumptions. 
Animals self-administer aspirin (Hoffmeister & Wuttke, 1973) and caffeine (Atkinson & Enslen, 1976; Deneau, Yangita, & Seevers, 1969; Sekita et al., 1992) As with nicotine, aspirin and caffeine self- administration is not very vigorous and sometimes it may not occur a\t all (Heishman & Henningfield, 1992). Since adverse effects on health have been associated with both aspirin and caffeine (Bednar & Gross, 1999; Kiyohara et al., 1999) as with nicotine, their use could be seen as meeting the principle criteria for addiction. 
"Studies do not provide unequivocal evidence for nicotine producing reward either via euphoric actions or through reduction of pain, anxiety, or negative affect" (p. 20). 


Humans reported that intravenous injections of nicotine felt similar to cocaine. The face appeal of these findings is reduced by methodological problems. First, all of the subjects were hospitalized with unspecified histories of substance abuse. Additionally, some of the subjects who reported that nicotine was like cocaine had never experienced cocaine (Clark, 1990). Additionally, some subjects thought nicotine was like cannabis, morphine, or Valium(R). Such gross errors suggest that the subjects were fairly confused. Some subjects reported a "rush" from the nicotine injection. Considering that they were given the nicotine content of three cigarettes in one bolus, such an effect is not surprising. High doses of nicotine often produce dizziness (Perkins et al., 1994) .
Another study in a similar group of patients reported that intravenous caffeine produced subjective effects similar to those of cocaine (Rush, Sullivan, & Griffiths, 1995). These subjects identified caffeine as cocaine more often than they identified cocaine as cocaine! The subjective reports of intravenous drug users are influenced by many processes with little relevance to human drug taking (Iwamoto & Martin, 1988). 
The fact that humans engage in many behaviors in spite of numerous warnings of the attendant harms is not evidence of addictive processes. It is testimony to human frailty and the ineffectiveness of fear in controlling behavior. 
Addiction is commonly portrayed as a brain disease (Anonymous, 1997; Batter, 1996; Brautbar, 1995; Dani & Heinemann, 1996; Leshner, 1996; Nash, 1997; Nutt, 1996; Rose, 1996) In spite of such claims, there is no brain pathology or even special brain state uniquely associated with the use of any drug in any species. Drugs of abuse change brain function (Di Chiara, 1995; Joseph, Young, & Gray, 1996; Peele, 1990c). However, similar changes are also produced by relatively innocuous substances and everyday events (Hernandez & Hoebel, 1988a, 1988b; Pfaus, Damsma, Wenkstern, & Fibiger, 1995; Wilson, Nomikos, Collu, & Fibiger, 1995; Yoshida, Yokoo, Mizoguchi, Kawahara, Tsuda, Nishikawa, & Tanaka, 1992; Young, Joseph, & Gray, 1992). Such changes cannot reasonably be said to represent the neural substrate of addiction.


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