[ExI] addiction

Anders Sandberg anders at aleph.se
Tue Mar 22 10:19:21 UTC 2016

On 2016-03-21 19:39, William Flynn Wallace wrote:
> General question about addiction:  just what constitutes addiction?

The modern psychological definition would stress that it is a behavior 
that limits your ability to live your life in your society. Just taking 
a substance or even being dependent on it is not enough.

Typically, it is list based. If you do the drug or behavior more than 
indented, you want to cut down on it but are unable to do it, you spend 
a lot of time getting it, repeatedly are unable to carry out major 
obligations at work, school or home due to it, it causes social or 
interpersonal problems but you continue to use it, you stop or reduce 
important social, occupational or recreational activities due to the 
use, or you use it when it is risky - then you may have a disorder. If 
only 2-3 of these criteria are fulfilled, then it might be a mild case. 
4-5: moderate, and more than 6 severe.

That is the psychiatrist approach. From a neurobehavioral perspective it 
is all about a persistent behavior pattern that becomes maladaptively 
dominant, typically because of messing with the reward system. The 
problem is not the enjoyment of gambling, books or meth, but if it 
crowds out too much of the rest of life, long-term life goals, and 
functioning in society.

Most common addiction talk use it as a metaphor. But it is loose talk, 
not necessarily talking about the important thing at the core of the 
discussion here.

Anders Sandberg
Future of Humanity Institute
Oxford Martin School
Oxford University

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