Jeffrey Schaler's 'Addiction Is A Choice'

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David Krout Professor Wycoff English 103 19 July 2011 ADDICTION = DISEASE Drug addiction knows no boundaries and pulls no punches. It affects people of every age, nationality, and socioeconomic background. It is prevalent in our schools, homes, and places of work. Drug addiction affects not only the addict, but their families, the economy, and society as a whole. It can rip families apart, with one or both parents being led away in handcuffs, their children left with a relative or Child Protective Services. It can steal a son or daughter, leaving behind confused parents who feel guilty, suspecting they could…show more content…
Dr. Jeffrey Schaler, a professor of psychology and author of the book “Addiction is a Choice,” argues that addiction is just that, a behavior. Schaler believes the view that “addiction is a treatable disease is a lie,” and that “addiction is a choice.” Schaler contends that drugs are inanimate objects, neither good nor bad and therefore incapable of causing addiction. Schaler claims that “anyone can stop or moderate their use of addictive drugs anytime they want to,” and that he believes people should focus on the “behavior of addiction” and not “what drugs do to the brain.” (qtd. in Colorado Freedom Report). The idea that addiction is a behavioral choice and not the result of a brain repeatedly being subjected to addictive substances is inconsistent with what scientists are learning about how the addicted brain functions. If, as Schaler states, anyone can stop or moderate their use anytime they want to, why don’t they? Why are there people who want to quit using and can’t? And if using addictive drugs is just a choice, how would one explain the concept of relapse or addicts in recovery who have to learn how to successfully resist the incessant urge to use again? His claim that anyone can stop or moderate their use anytime they want to is illogical. The truth is that drug use changes the way the brain functions, specifically in the mesolimbic dopamine system (the brain's reward center),…show more content…
Society should not take a moralistic tone or approach concerning people addicted to drugs. An addicted brain no longer functions like a normal brain but is in a state of compulsive drug seeking and use. How then does it help the individual addicted if they are merely written off as someone who couldn’t control themselves rather than someone with a health problem who needs treatment? It doesn’t. And how will it benefit society if addicts are labeled as morally inferior people and are not given the help they need to perhaps become productive members of their communities? It won’t. Does that mean that anyone who has used and abused addictive mind altering substances to the point of addiction isn’t responsible for their actions, exonerated of any wrong doing? Of course it doesn’t. Does it mean that an addict is free from all fault or blame if they continue to seek out and use the very substances that are ruining their lives? Not at all. Once addicts are made aware of the nature of their condition and the steps that can be taken for its resolution, they become responsible for initiating and managing their own
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