Far too often, addiction is viewed as a morale failing, or as a flaw in one’s character. Addiction is stigmatized and those who suffer from it are often criminalized and or relegated to the outskirts of society. However, journalist Johann Hari, advocates for a more compassionate approach to dealing with addiction. In a 2015 Ted Talk, Hari argues that addiction is often the result of a lack of a sense of purpose and meaningful relationships. Hari discusses a series of studies in which rats in a cage are given the choice between regular water and water mixed with heroine. He stated that the rats typically chose the heroine water and often drank it repeatedly until they died. However, he noted that when rats lived not in bare cages, but in enriched environments, they chose the regular water. Hari argues that the findings in this study explain why decriminalizing substance abuse and creating more job opportunities leads to a reduction in addiction and related issues. Hari believes that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety but connection.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy addresses addiction by helping individuals to examine the patterns of thinking, decision making, and managing emotion that have become destructive.
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Author Dr. Jason von Stietz specializes in Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Sport/Performance Psychology in Torrance, CA.