[ExI] addiction

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Fri Apr 3 20:03:15 UTC 2015

On 3 April 2015 at 16:04, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
> As a libertarian I find no favor with trying to ban certain drugs through
> legislation.  Hasn't worked well at all and is extremely expensive.  We can
> try to marginalize them, as we have done with tobacco, punish overuse of,
> say, alcohol, with fines and such.  We can try to educate people to the very
> real and sometimes lethal effects of certain drugs.  Hard to say how
> effective those are.
> Not that I have any great and wonderful ideas myself, but as a psychologist
> and just a casual observer, punishment is just about the worst form of
> behavior control there is.  The side effects of punishment, such as
> resentment, finding ways of avoiding it, and a lot more, are often worse
> than the behavior itself.  And if it doesn't work all that well at first,
> people are tempted to increase it.  Too much room for abuse.
> What you create is an approach-avoidance problem.  Want to use the substance
> versus possible punishment if caught.  Obviously if the drug is highly
> desirable it wins every time.

> Until you find way to make people not want to feel normal, we will have a
> drug problem.
> I would use no punishment at all, just a referral to a treatment program
> which they pay for in part (Freud said that people won't respect what they
> get unless they pay for it and I agree).
> Many billions spent on trying to stop dealers have only made them rich and
> us poorer.  One way we are poorer is having to support the world's biggest
> prison population.

Addiction is complex. I doubt that there is a simple 'one size fits
all' solution.

The old idea that a rat in a cage will keep injecting drugs till it
dies is a bit outdated. (The rat was alone in a cage with nothing else
to do). A recent study suggests that rats living together in a
interesting environment don't take much drugs.

Doubt has also been cast on the chemical dependency theory. Most
addicts eventually stop being addicted. Early life trauma or severe
stress (like the Vietnam war) seem likely to cause drug use as a
method of blanking out the mental pain. Remove the stress and
addiction stops. (Most Vietnam vets stopped drug use when they
returned home).

A recent article discusses the options.


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