“We know that the majority of chronically hardcore substance-dependent adults lived, as infants and children, under conditions of severe adversity… Their predisposition to addiction was programmed in their early years. Their brains never had a chance.” – Gabor Maté
A few years ago, you would have caught me being a complete ass when it came to subjects like addiction. I would say something like “addicts suck, they should just work on their discipline” or “It’s only their fault that they have weak will power!”. Fortunately, I realized that I was only looking at the tree and not the whole forest.
Once I learned more about science and discovered that making complete conclusions of how the world work based on just my observations alone is no way to solve problems.
I look at aberrant behavior as something a little deeper than I once did. Behavior is much more complicated than a simple choice of “do” or “don’t” based on will power. There’s a lot more influence involved than the conscious scheming. Once I realized how people are influenced, I can judge less and understand more.
Should Addicts be Punished
Most addictions are actually mental. Substances themselves are rarely addictive, but some people are more susceptive to addiction than others. For example, there have been studies done on rats (and people) showing that chronic cortisol (stress hormone) exposure at an early age can leave children more susceptible of having addictions when they become adults. One study even showed that when pregnant female rats were stressed during pregnancy, their offspring were more likely to display addictive behavior.
Prenatal and early childhood development also play a huge roll in frontal cortex (conscious part of the brain) development. Studies have shown that those with an underdeveloped frontal cortex are much more likely to fall victim to craving-limbic drive (subconscious influence). Any addict or professional that studies addicts will tell you that they really want to quit and are really trying their best. Addiction ruins many people’s lives and they’re aware of it, but they can’t quit without strict supervision, some more than others of course.
So what do you guys think about addiction? I’m personally not going to send a schizophrenic person to jail if they committed a crime, but rather to an institution that can help them and help us understand how to prevent incidents like it. I feel like the same understanding needs to be taken with addiction and those who fall victim to it. The nature of addiction is similar to that of homosexuality. People often mistaken the two for an error of personal choice and dismiss a biological/environmental factor in their development.