16 September 2013


Back in the 1950s, addiction more or less meant heroin abuse. Now, the term has branched out to embrace drinking, gambling, shopping, sex, eating, obsessive compulsive disorder, computer gaming, television watching and internet use. The list expands constantly, serviced and encouraged, says Peele, by a growing and hungry treatment and therapy industry.
Britain, I suggest, is following the US in stockpiling neuroses, but he is not convinced; he thinks we are, like most Europeans, still reasonably resistant to addiction disease concepts. "No one is as addicted to addiction as Americans," he laughs. "Americans love that. They say, 'You know you bite your nails? Well, that's a disease, and we've got a drug for it.' Americans will always take that drug. [We] like to medicalise things."  [Emphasis added.]

While I don’t deny that addiction does have a basis in neural function, and is this partly a physical phenomenon, I do think that it is also true that a good portion of what is currently passed off as addiction is little more than an excuse for behaving irresponsibly.  Instead of blaming one’s lack of self-control on oneself, some would rather blame their lack of self-control on addictions.

It’s not their lack of self-discipline or their desire to behave irresponsibly that causes people to engage in bad/evil/counter-productive behavior; it’s simply addictions (that one willingly indulges in) that lead to problems.  As long as you have a vice, you can’t be blamed for your bad behavior.