Saturday, January 14, 2006

CC and Psyton's addiction argument continues

(I'm having fun hashing this out, so I thought I'd keep the discussion bumped up by posting my responses as posts rather than as responses. Psyton's and my discussion starts here and continues here.

This seems like a stupid question, but I'm going to ask it anyway.

If quitting by sheer willpower is the best solution for everyone, how come all the unhappy addicts in the world haven't fixed themselves? I mean willpower is convenient and free and you can start any time?

Seems to me like some people have quit drinking through willpower, a lot more have quit drinking with AA (and the first thing AA teaches is that you're powerless over your addiction), some people need more specialized disease-focussed approaches, some people never find an approach that works and drink themselves to death.

Willpower is a component of all of them, but I'm not sure why you would think it is the total solution for everyone when so much evidence, anecdotal and otherwise, exists to suggest otherwise.

I mean "Addiction is totally the addict's fault for being weak. If they can't fix themselves through willpower, then they are too weak and they should be stonger. Because strong people don't need drugs" is a Dr.-Laura-like tautological approach that sounds logical in theory, but I seriously doubt it helps many people in the real world.



Anonymous said...

One could almost say that you could define "addiction" as something you can't stop with just willpower alone.
But, more functionally, the thing that's really hard for people to believe, is that we are all different: what works for one person does not necessarily work for another person. As the world gets less liberal/compassionate in outlook, that gets harder and harder to wrap your mind around. But it is very true -- some things work for one person and do nothing for the next person -- it's even true with medicine: different people have different effects and different side effects. Why wouldn't the same be true for mental exercises?
Whether or not what the guy wrote in his book is true for him, saying that since it's true for him it must be true for everyone is an immature attitude that shows little understanding.

Joel Monka said...

On this occassion I agree with Kim- what actually works is individual, and may not work for someone else. In fact, one could even argue that "willpower", on that extreme level, is a chemical unbalance itself, as it is obviously out of the norm.

Joel Monka

L B said...

I'm just here to compliment your site...

saraeanderson said...

I think it's a distraction to talk about whose fault an addiction is. It's not really relevant to how to treat it. Whether you started smoking with the goal of becoming addicted (it's a hypothetical, okay?) or if you began smoking not knowing you'd become addicted, either way you end up addicted and it's just as hard to quit for either individual. There are plenty of things we do to screw our lives up, and there are plenty of outside factors that screw our lives up, but either way you're the only one you can rely on to make your life good again, no matter what tools you use.

Will said...

I like the concept popularized by AA that you need to change people, places, and things.

There isnt any one perfect approach, but whatever approach you use, you need a universal consistent approach. MOst of all, you need the help of friends.