Bonding: An Alternative View on Addiction

Cigarets, Alcohol and Drugs

Substance addiction involves extensive usage and dependency to a specific substance. The typical view of addiction is that every person can get addicted and there is a higher possibility of getting addicted to more addictive substances. However there is an assumption that arises from this view on addiction and the TED-talk by Johann Hari made me aware of it. If this view is correct then any group of people given an addictive drug would get addicted to this substance. This does not happen when we are given highly addictive morphine after a surgery. This could be explained by the careful control we receive over the dosing of the drug in the hospital. 

However a different example has been presented in the talk, this example was the War in Vietnam. During this event many American soldiers extensively abused drugs while they were in Vietnam. There was a concern that when those soldiers return there will be many drug addicts in the USA. However, that did not happen. Not only did it not happen but there were no consequences for those veterans, not even withdrawal syndrome. 

The view Johann Hari presents involves not only the person and the drug, but it involves the whole environment of a person. A profesor from the Netherlands Peter Cohen suggests an idea that addiction should be referred to as bonding. This idea involves the fact that if a person is lonely and not satisfied with his life, then it is easy for an individual to ‘bond’ with a substance. However if a person is happy, healthy and has a social life then this person does not need a bond with a substance. This can be seen not only in substance addiction, but also in behavioural addiction. 

The idea of bonding instead of addiction may fundamentally change the way we all look at addiction and if properly applied may even diminish the problem on poloational level, just like what happened in Portugal.

Hari, J. (2015, June). Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong [Video] TEDGlobalLondon Conference.

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