The Science of Choice in Addiction

Posted on August 19th, 2016

Research has shown that beating addiction is ultimately about regarding addicts as people who can rationally choose

In this article, Sally Satel investigates the dynamics of choice in addiction. She disputes the common assumption that immoderate substance use is a dopamine-driven compulsion and considers the socio-ecological context in which persons live, use and fight to survive. Drawing on the findings of Carl Hart’s High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery that Challenges Everything you Know about Drugs and Society, she concludes that those who engage in problematic substance use can rationally choose to use opportunities to their advantage and minimize self-harm. We as a society must work to provide those opportunities.

In short, every addict has reasons to begin using, reasons to continue, and reasons to quit. To act on a reason is to choose. To make good choices requires the presence of meaningful alternatives. And making a series of good choices leads to achievements—jobs, relationships, reputations. These give a person something meaningful to lose, another reason in itself to steer away from bad choices”

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Intrigued to learn more about substance use? Consider registering for the next cohort of Understanding Addiction, a unique online training program for those who work directly or indirectly with people who face challenges with addiction.

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