Addiction Between Compulsion and Choice

In Neil Levy (ed.), Addiction and Self-Control. Oxford University Press (forthcoming)
Authors
Richard Holton
Cambridge University
Abstract
We aim to find a middle path between disease models of addiction, and those that treat addictive choices as choices like any other. We develop an account of the disease element by focussing on the idea that dopamine works primarily to lay down dispositional intrinsic desires. Addictive substances artifically boost the dopamine signal, and thereby lay down intrinsic desires for the substances that persist through withdrawal, and in the face of beliefs that they are worthless. The result is cravings that are largely outside the control of the addict. But this does not mean that addicts are bound to act on such cravings, since they typically retain their faculty of self-control. The issue is one of difficulty not impossibility. Controlling an addictive craving is exceedingly demanding.
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