Ryan’s notes

Everything You Think You Know about Addiction is Wrong

Johann Hari: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong

  • We have this idea that addiction is caused by chemicals, but this seems wrong:

    • 95% of Vietnam War addicts quit upon returning home
    • "Rat Park" experiment by Bruce Alexander saw a very different result from earlier experiments... rats almost never used drugs, and never got addicted, when their environment was set up for other healthier connections
  • Addiction is a useful adaptation to environment. "Maybe we should call it bonding" in absence of being able to bond with other things, people.

  • You could afford to get drunk for 6 months, but you won't because you have other people and things (connections) you want to show up and be present for

    • I somewhat buy this argument, but it doesn't stand up in other instances. Why do parents stay addicted to their phones in the presence of the child that they love so much? Perhaps the phone is a way to solve unpleasantness in other parts of their life, and it carries over in this other setting?
  • Drug War: we put barriers up to people reconnecting to society, which is counterproductive

  • Portugal did the opposite in ~2000 — decriminalized and set up programs for re-integration (e.g. subsidizing employment)... 15 yrs later they see injections down 50%.

  • Shared meals are down but housing sizes are up, we're the most isolated / lonely society ever :: The Nuclear Family Was a Mistake by David Brooks

  • Solution: invest in real, in-the-flesh connections; love, don't shun, people who are addicted — give them something healthier to connect with