Addiction is a Choice

by | Feb 23, 2006

Most talk of addictions as something over which the individual is helpless. Yet how does this explain that so many end their addictions? People quit smoking all the time. People quit alcohol. They quit nail-biting. They even quit heroin and crack cocaine. These are facts that nobody disputes. So why do we focus so much […]

Most talk of addictions as something over which the individual is helpless. Yet how does this explain that so many end their addictions?

People quit smoking all the time. People quit alcohol. They quit nail-biting. They even quit heroin and crack cocaine. These are facts that nobody disputes.

So why do we focus so much on the helplessness of addicts? Addictions or compulsions can be real struggles and problems for people; I won’t deny this for a second. But it somehow seems incorrect, within the psychiatric profession, on Oprah, or even by the office water cooler, to point out the fact that difficult, rational choices are made by people all the time. If I pointed this out to most of my colleagues in the mental health community, I would immediately be condemned for suggesting the heresy that “addiction is a choice.”

But isn’t it a fact that people do CHOOSE to stop, and successfully stay stopped, from doing things that are harmful and self-destructive? And if addicts are in fact choosing to STOP once they stop, wasn’t it likewise a choice to engage in the destructive behavior while they still did it?

Why must we ignore these facts? If we ignore them, we minimize the potential of human beings to overcome adversity. It seems to me that this is something that Oprah, psychotherapists, and psychiatrists would want to celebrate, not ignore.

Dr. Michael Hurd is a psychotherapist, columnist and author of "Bad Therapy, Good Therapy (And How to Tell the Difference)" and "Grow Up America!" Visit his website at: www.DrHurd.com.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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