3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating view on beating addiction, challenging orthodoxies,
This review is from: Addiction: A Disorder of Choice (Hardcover)
This is a clear, well-written book that challenges popular wisdom on the nature of addiction, and in particular addiction to illegal drugs. The basic premise of the book is that addiction is a voluntary behavior, and not a disease.
The author is not saying that people choose to become addicts. Day by day they choose the easier route of continuing their self-destructive behavior, rather than taking a long term view. He stresses that the evidence is that, when the price of addiction becomes too high (risking the loss of family work or social position) the vast majority choose to give up their addictive behavior. This explains why the almost all of those taking heroin or cocaine in their teens and 20s give it up in their 30s. If not, the world would now be full of addicts in their 60s and 70s. He asserts that the apparent inconsistency with popular perception, given the known high failure rate of treatment for addiction, reflects that those who seek medical help are those who have already failed to beat their addiction on their own, and so are not typical drug users.
The principles of addiction he describes here also apply more widely. Anyone who has tried to get fit or to lose weight will recognize the challenge of changing the habits of a lifetime. If you only consider the short term, the easiest route is to give in to the temptation of the status quo, and it is only by taking a longer term view that we can achieve genuine change, but it is possible.
For the specialist, the complexities of drug addiction may well be familiar but, overall, this book is much more interesting to the general reader than its title and topic would suggest.