[ExI] addiction

Rafal Smigrodzki rafal.smigrodzki at gmail.com
Fri Apr 8 20:38:26 UTC 2022

On Fri, Apr 8, 2022 at 2:30 PM Will Steinberg via extropy-chat <
extropy-chat at lists.extropy.org> wrote:

> What an overly simplified view of the brain, as if parts of the brain
> don't send signals to other parts.
> Why is it so hard to admit you are wrong?  You are wrong.  The science is
> the opposite of what you say.  You are not a neuroscientist, are you?  An
> addiction researcher?  Is there any reason your intuition and personal
> single anecdote would possibly be something I would consider true over
> literal thousands of pieces of vetted scientific research?
> Blows my mind.  Not sure how you are usually into science but not for this
> one thing.

### I agree with you, Will.

I also think it is useful to look at the problem from a practical,
problem-solving point of view. The most important characteristic of
addiction is that it is a behavior that the addict continues despite
knowing that it has significant deleterious effects on his life. One could
quibble about what is "deleterious" but in practical terms addiction is the
kind of behavior that just doesn't stop easily despite significant cost. If
it stops after a stern talking-to, it's definitely not an addiction. If it
continues after losing your job, money, spouse, after a jail time, being
beaten up and going through rehab, yes, might be an addiction. Researchers
will look at the neurological correlates of the behaviors but us practical
people mostly ask "How do I fix the problem?"

People with a moralistic bent may talk about blame, guilt, shame, weakness,
lack of willpower, etc. but again, what counts is the practical outcome -
Is he still doing after whatever intervention you tried? Did he stop after
the priest chewed him out? Did he get better with the help of suboxone or
methadone? Did CBT help?

What counts is how many people avoided being homeless and overdosing in an
alley or getting lung cancer, whether by pulling themselves up by their own
moral bootstraps or by mere nicotine patch.

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