Is addiction simply because of a weak will? Can we blame it on bad circumstances, the stress of modern life, peer pressure, or the compulsive need to conform? Or is it a physical malaise, and the sufferer is helpless to do anything?
Right from Ancient times, till as recent as a few decades ago, Addiction was considered a flaw in character, reflecting a weak will. Addicts were largely looked down upon, objects of loathing rather than pity. Addiction was considered a sin and addicts were publicly flogged or otherwise punished.
Modern Science has a way of turning our beliefs on their heads – and then just as we start settling down into a new Belief system, it makes an about – turn on the issue; so much so that every new scientific discovery now comes with its own disclaimer!
So what is Science now saying about addiction? Is the current trend of blaming everything on either genes or one’s circumstances the story for this hot topic as well?
The Nature versus Nurture debate appears to have been given some respite, with the consensus that it is never “Either Nature or Nurture”, but actually “Nature Through Nurture”. This is an excellent middle-ground, because you can please both sides without having taken any sides!
But my reading of biological processes tells me that this is indeed the correct viewpoint; if your son is as destructive as you are, chances are that he has your genes, but you are also modifying his choice by modeling destructive behavior for him to emulate!
Life is much more complex than a simple Nature vs Nurture debate, and so is the topic of Addiction; the numbers of people in the grips of impulsive and addictive behavior tells me that it is a burning question in everybody’s mind. That is why I decided to look up the available literature to try and understand the current ideas on the topic.
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