[ExI] addiction

William Flynn Wallace foozler83 at gmail.com
Fri Apr 3 22:34:41 UTC 2015

On Fri, Apr 3, 2015 at 3:03 PM, BillK <pharos at gmail.com> wrote:

> 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.
> >
> <snip>
> > 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 dies is a bit outdated.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.
> <
> http://www.npr.org/blogs/13.7/2015/03/27/395774025/the-fight-against-addiction-is-love-all-you-need
> >
> BillK

​The problem with looking at it from an evolutionary standpoint is that
life or death was likely a daily problem for all animals, so whatever
worked right away and very effectively was passed on.

The problem with positive punishment is that while severe punishment can
eliminate the problem behavior asap, it doesn't last.  It just creates
avoidance behavior, such as finding ways of not getting caught (think of
prisoners exchanging information).  Now if you are avoiding lions, it's a
really good thing.​

​  But we don't want people to avoid parents or bosses.

One rather humorous example was the drug that was added to alcohol
(antabuse).  Pick up your liquor at the rehab center, drink it, and become
very sick.  This teaches them not to get their booze at the rehab center.

As for long term effectiveness, look at my drug problems:  I have not
smoked tobacco (since 1981) or drunk alcohol (since 1997) in decades and
you'll just have to take my word for it.  I have no advice for how to get
this level of self-control.  I do not have it some other areas of my life,
like getting organized!

Good article on drug abuse and self-control (or willpower, if you like) in
April's Scientific American, though the self-control studies are very short

Re Vietnam vets:  yes, very interesting that many quit on returning home,
given that many were addicted to heroin.​  I speculate that as soon as the
stress, which must have been great at times, was gone, so was a need to
zone out.

I agree with the SciAmer article that no one has his willpower removed by a
chemical.  There is no total compulsion to take a drug over which the
person has no power.  Hand to mouth is still a voluntary action, so sorry,
drug abusers, there is no 'have to' here.

So I would say for all types of addiction that the psychological part is
*always* the most important one.

bill w

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