Addiction Is A Choice

One of the contributors to Boing Boing recently wrote about “internet addiction”. According to the post, it is a “real problem”. Apparently 20% of all addicts in the Illinois Institute of Addiction Recovery check into their rehab center for “Internet addiction”, staying “at the Institute for 30-90 days, paying up to $1200 a day …to  follow the same treatment program that alcoholics and sex addicts go through”. If you are in any doubt you may be afflicted, there’s a test you can do to see if you are an “internet addict

Internet addiction, sex addiction, gambling addiction… the list goes on. It seems every vice can be an “addiction” today. And I say what codswollup. What utter rot.

As you probably know, there is nothing I detest more than our present societal trend to strip away individuality, and create the conformity of the average . To get everyone to regress to the mean. I have written about this a few times previously. And this is perhaps the most insidious example of it.

Because by classifying all that our current political ‘elite’ deem “vice” as an “addiction” – a “medical problem” that “can not be helped”, what does this say about our society?

Because what is “addiction” these days? Little more than the feeble attempt of some people to take action, then eschew all responsibility for it.

This goes to the very core of it.

Because if something is an ‘addiction’ then it is obviously not your fault. You are not to blame for your actions, you can’t be asked to take responsibility – you are an ‘addict’. It is a ‘medical’ problem. And so, it is always something else’s fault. You have a character vice, it is because you are addicted’ it is a “disease” that you need treatment for.

I do not deny that much of my opinion on this matter is driven by Thomas Szacz (I believe I am the only person in the history of the universe to give The Myth of Mental Illness to a significant other and think it romantic), but whilst I do not agree with all his conclusions, I think he does raise a valued point. In that we now use quasi-“medical” excuses as an excuse for our own behaviour. To allow us to commit actions, and escape the consequences.

It is for this very reason that there is little I hate more than people who tell me they are “trying to quit smoking” What horrid kind character does that? Either quit, or do not. Do not say you are “trying”. Make a decision and stick to it, and do not blame external forces for your own internal failures.

And so, as we as a society stigmatize all those who are ‘different’, as we continue to preach this mantra of ‘addiction’, what is the final result? A society where individual responsibility matters naught. And this is what I am combating against.

So either embrace your vices, or renounce them. But at least accept them as part of who you are. Do not – ever – seek to blame “addiction” for your own deeds. For if you do, it is simply yet another dagger into the heart of the concept of individuality that makes life worth living.

UPDATE: Apparently I am not the only person in the universe to have gifted Szacz as a gesture of romance. So, yeah, that pretty much shatters any notion I had of being a unique individual. Thanks, thanks oh so much…


17 Responses to “Addiction Is A Choice”

  1. Jasmine Says:

    According to that test you linked, my score of 62 means that I am allegedly “experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of the Internet” and that I “should consider their full impact on [my] life”. The type of questions used can easily label introverted individuals and teenagers as addicts, for preferring internet use to other activities/means of communication, and enjoying it. Some people simply do not find the ‘outside world’ interesting or fulfilling enough, there is of course nothing wrong with this.

    Having administrated a moderately large internet community’s message boards, I knew a lot of people who spend a lot of time online (8+ hours, weekdays). Use of the ‘addiction’ excuse on that board and the wider community earns one universal contempt. It is incredulous how common sense evades people who pathologise habit.

  2. Pete Says:

    You are a worthless cunt.

  3. Tim Andrews Says:

    Thanks for the constructive criticism.

  4. Pete Says:

    Actually, let me clarify my previous claim a little.
    Before you go letting your inner child babble incomprehensible rubbish, I think you should go and get fact.
    ‘Scientific’ journals, years of empirical data, fancy communist conspiracies like fMRIs provide an overwhelming tsunami of reasons as to why your claims are not simply devoid of any substance, but are callous and hurtful.
    Freedom trumps science? What depth of ideologue are you? How deep can swallow the sword of liberty without gagging? Is this some form of political deep throat that you practice, endorse and would wish to enforce?
    Although I should acknowledge that ‘science’ is simply part of a bigger socialist/fascist/anarchist conspiracy mounted against the one truth that is freedom, until you can provide some convincing counter hypothesis that addiction doesn’t exist, rather than this empty blathering of a near-imbecilic brain, I will continue to put forward the proposal that you are a worthless cunt.

  5. Tim Andrews Says:

    Considering you are posting under a fake name, usurping the identity of another, is there any reason I ought take your deranged rants even the slightest bit seriously?

  6. Pete Says:

    One should always assess the quality of a message simply by the messenger. (Identity is necessary component of trust and without trust, we are naught but savages.)
    Now that your ad hominem is engaged, you can avoid all else I have posted.
    Also, I apologise for lying to you for the use of non-standard historicised identity. But I guess that’s freedom for you.

  7. Tim Andrews Says:

    Okay, that’s a worthwhile response. I’ll pay that.

  8. Pete Says:


    If you would like to read more about the neuroscience of addiction, I would recommend:
    “Neurobiology of addiction. An integrative review” by A Goodman, Biochemical Pharmacology, Jan 1 2008,
    “Addiction and the brain antireward system” by Koob and Le Moal, Annual Review of Psychology, Vol 59, 2008,
    “Molecular Neurobiology of Addiction” by E Nestler, American Journal of Addictions Vol 10, no 3, 2001,
    Also, take a cheeky peek at the journal ‘Neuroethics.’ It will keep you busy for days.

  9. Tim Andrews Says:

    And in return, can I recommend “Addiction is a Choice” by Dr. Jeremy Schaler ?

  10. Jake the Muss Says:

    This smacks to me as a bit of a strawman Tim. You can’t just redefine addiction and then dance along your yellow brick road and expect not to be called on it.

    The fact that some people, or even most people, use addiction or even the word addiction as an excuse to not take responsibility for their actions doesn’t really change anything about the science and facts of physical or psychological addiction.

    You remind me of Stan Zemanek who claimed that ‘stress’ didn’t exist, and then when given examples of definitions would simply go ‘no that’s tension’, ‘no that’s hard work’.

    Addiction is a medical problem and it is that persons fault. Your physical addiction to cigarettes (yes you have one Tim don’t be a retard) is your fault. That you happily want to smoke cigarettes anyway is all well and good. Doesn’t change the chemical and neurological pathway responses that are happening in your body. It doesn’t make you wrong, it doesn’t make you right, it is simply happening and your psychological and lifestyle desires correlate.

    As for ‘do or do not’, motherfucker you aren’t Yoda. Just because you embrace your vices doesn’t make you an expert on the will power needed to break a physical or even a psychological addiction. Are you a crack baby? Are you the movie Trainspotting? Pretty sure you don’t do meth. Shut the fuck up.

    Recognising that an addict is a little to a lot less rational than a non-addict doesn’t make me a bleeding heart hippy, it makes me a rational person with a brain. I simply hold them to account for their state anyway, and show compassion when justified.

    You’ve taken a good point ‘addiction isn’t an excuse’ and just shat all over it with your blunder and bluster.

    Well done Shabadoo.

  11. Pete Says:

    Re: “Addiction is a Choice” by Dr. Jeremy Schaler, I will try to look at it, but my cognitive load is especially high at the moment, leading to reduced cognitive capacity (Baumeister, R.F., Sparks, E.A., Stillman, T.F. & Vohs, K.D. 2008. Free will in consumer behavior: Self-control, ego depletion, and choice. Journal of Consumer Psychology 18: 4-13.), so any guarantees I make would be suspect.
    All I can do is try…my internal apparati are spread thin.

  12. Jacques Chester Says:


    Addiction is a measurable phenomenon, and has been since before the development of fMRIs or positron-emission tomography.

    There are multiple mechanisms of addiction. Some addictions are almost purely physiological — nicotine, for instance — while others are based in learned behaviour due to reinforcement.

    Internet addiction, like gaming addiction or gambling addiction, is an example of the latter. It is caused by a randomly-variable reinforcement schedule; of reinforcement schedules, this is most effective at forming behavioural patterns and is most resistant to extinction.

    I think you’ve made the same mistake as you’ve previously made when commenting on psychological issues: you’ve taken your own experience to be universal. But that’s not how human experience works. Just because you might have a low-addiction personality, doesn’t mean everyone does.

    You’re over-generalising, is my point. Your rants read like someone saying “I’m white. Everyone in Australia must be white. People who say otherwise are full of shit and have some agenda”.

  13. Jacques Chester Says:

    Plus, Thomas Sasz has done his credibility a *lot* of damage by buddying up with Scientology.

  14. Pete Says:

    And, to follow Jacques Chester’s comment, I seem to recall that Scientologists allegedly believe that psychiatrists, as Xenu’s helpers, were involved in intergalactic genocide, over 75 million years ago. So if Sasz is a Scientologist, then perhaps he has a ‘faith’ based position against psychiatry generally, and neuroscientic and/or cognitive psychologically founded explanations for addiction in particular.

  15. Jacques Chester Says:

    I don’t think he *is* a scientologist, but he’s cooperated with them because they are pathologically (ha!) anti-psychiatry. He lent his name to at least one of their front organisations (the Citizen Commission on Human Rights).

  16. My Blog: One Year On « The musings of an Australian classical liberal in Washington DC Says:

    […] The Joy of Argument & The Tyranny of the Pastels The Fetish Of Happiness & The Damning Of The Different: My Indictment On Modern Society Running On Thin, Cracking Ice (or, another self-indulgent whine) Addiction Is A Choice […]

  17. Fantasy Says:

    hmmm, now where are my dumbels

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