“We can do much to reduce the shame and the stigma of drug addiction, once medical professionals, and we as a society, understand that addiction is not just ‘a disease of the brain,’ but one in which the circuits that enable us to exert free will no longer function as they should.”
– Dr. Nora Volkow, Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse
Ironically, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse doesn’t understand how a lack of free will is keeping her brain circuits from noticing or acknowledging the existence of the most common and destructive addictions to money, belief systems, and Abraham Maslow’s psychological deficiency needs for safety/power, acceptance/approval/attention, and esteem/status.
Dr. Volkow doesn’t get it because, being a DIMwit, she’s not interested in considering the possibility she’s suffering from dopamine-induced madness, a disorder that facilitates her denial of personal addictions to power, approval, and status.
That’s not to suggest the good doctor isn’t nice, intelligent, or doing the best she can, under the circumstances. It’s just that DIM renders her neurologically incapable of grasping how a dearth of free will is a key symptom of all addictions, including safety, power, acceptance, approval, esteem, money, and belief systems.
You’re reading this because…
The key to survival turned out to be an array of dopamine-induced addictions that provided tested and proven advantages to progenitors who then passed their programming down to us.
One result is the great DIMwit addiction hustle where A-word worshipers, choicers, jokers, and deniers get lost in pointless debates that accomplish little more than demonstrate how the lack of free will keeps DIMwits oblivious to how the only thing they care about is maintaining dopamine flow.
While contradictory hustlers appear to be coming from opposite directions, because they rely on different means, the end is always the same – an unconscious, confusing, dishonest debate about what are and aren’t addictions.
So we have A-word worshipers, such as Dr. Volkow, who insist addictions should be reserved for a few exalted dependencies, while choicers preach the gospel of decisions, jokers quip about obsessions, and deniers (the worst of the lot) insist substances and behaviors (including heroin, cocaine, and gambling) aren’t addictive and shouldn’t be faulted for destroying the lives of faulty individuals.
Doing The Addiction Hustle (TAH)
Scratch the surface and hustlers turn out to be power, attention, esteem, belief system, and/or money addicts playing variations of the same dopamine game, The Addiction Hustle. Like all dopamine games, TAH isn’t a mind game, it’s a mindless game with one requirement — an unconscious commitment to self-deceptions, denials, and mindlessness.
Despite what might seem like conflicting approaches, the biggest difference between hustlers is how they attain power, attract attention, boost esteem, and/or fill bank accounts, to score the same dopamine squirts junkies, boozers, smokers, and gamblers trigger with heroine, alcohol, nicotine, and wagers.
A-word worshipers fall into two main camps. The first are addicts, recovering addicts, and recovering addicts turned counselors inflating a dopamine-inducing sense of status by passing themselves off as steadfast experts dedicated to studying the few true addictions worthy of their attention. The second are credentialed fear mongers hyping careers by feeding hungry media outlets titillating headlines about the threat of pathologizing “normal” behaviors by indiscriminately applying the A-word. More times than not, professional doom and gloomers are feeding personal dopamine needs by either reinforcing their institutional significance or directly/indirectly working to protect insurance industry profits.
Hustlers who insist addiction is a choice are often recovering addicts who aren’t honest or smart enough to admit they’ve essentially swapped one dopamine trigger for another. Instead of drugs, they switch to satisfying insatiable cravings by glorifying esteem-inflating victories over personal dependencies. Victories so impressive (in the telling) they imbue victors with special powers to help, for a fee, weaker addicts find the courage to make the same bold choice to be addiction free.
While some go to great lengths to deny addictions, jokers never miss a chance to flaunt them. The difference is that acknowledging tainted addictions (e.g., drugs and gambling) comes with serious threats to approval, esteem, future indulging, and dopamine flow whereas bragging about being addicted to shopping, social media, video games, and other acceptable behaviors begs attention, wins approval, inflates status, fosters indulging, and triggers dopamine while protecting dopamine flow by trivializing the seriousness of potentially dangerous obsessions. Oblivious to why, how, and that the jokes are on them, shopaholics laugh all the way to bankruptcy court, gamesters play away lives, twits mindlessly tweet, while dumb smart phone addicts crash and texters message themselves to death, taking innocent lives with them.
The most self-deceptive, dangerous, and haughtiest addicts are the deniers. Addiction deniers don’t care who their deceptions hurt, as long as they get the dopamine-triggering power, attention, status, and/or money they crave. The world’s preeminent addiction denier, Harvard’s Howard Schaffer, is a shameless power/esteem addict who proudly pimps himself out to gambling interests interested in seducing cash-strapped governors. By shilling for casino owners, Dr. Schaffer provides desperate politicians with a convenient shield to deny malfeasance. After all, how can governors be blamed for an increase in gambling related bankruptcies in their states when an expert with Schaffer’s credentials insists their constituents’ are the ones responsible for loosing their fortunes, families, and futures?
The problem with the hustle/game/hoax
Addiction is a powerful word that provides a lot more clout than any alternative, including habits, bad habits, dependencies, obsessions, compulsions, cravings, needs, wants, or other euphemisms. Manufactured words and catchy phrases invariably lack any real punch.
By placing neurological needs first, game-players muddy the waters, making it possible for the most common addicts to continue hiding in plain sight while pretending destructive addictions are normal, acceptable, and even enviable behaviors, customs, and rituals.
Magicians call it misdirection
Arguing over what are and aren’t addictions is as absurd as letting children perish in a burning schoolhouse because firefighters are too busy arguing with arsonists over the cause of the fire.
We’re here because primitive ancestors were addicted to breathing, eating, drinking, sex, safety, acceptance, approval, and status. If we’re not here much longer it will be because more recent ancestors turned life-supporting dopamine-triggering addictions into life-threatening obsessions while adding a long list of unnatural addictions (to drugs, gambling, belief systems, acquiring, etc.).
In other words, we are the descendants of clever DIMwits playing dopamine games that make it possible to ignore the obvious, which is that the sheer number of seemingly unrelated problems plaguing our species is a sure sign something is inherently wrong. Why? Because acknowledging the magnitude and breath of the crisis threatening our specie’s future comes with the threat of looking into the root cause of what’s wrong. And what’s wrong is that humans are suffering from comorbid brain disorders (addictions and dopamine-induced madness). The result is a perfect pandemic where unacknowledged addictions wreak havoc while DIM keeps sufferers, regardless of intelligence, education, credentials, titles, or expertise, conveniently oblivious to their suffering. Not because the symptoms and signs aren’t obvious to anyone capable of taking an honest look but because noticing the obvious poses a major threat to safety, power, esteem, acceptance/approval, and dopamine flow for anyone with the temerity to mention the unmentionable.
Which brings us back to the symptoms of all addictions: self-deception, denial, and the lack of free will keeping DIMwits from admitting to destructive addictive behaviors.
In a nutshell
Everyone we do, think, believe, dismiss, like, hate, accept, reject can be linked to one or more addictions. To put it another way, there are good, bad, helpful, harmful, logical, illogical, healthy, unhealthy, smart, foolish, life-sustaining, and life-threatening addictions. Unfortunately, humans have managed to turn formerly good, helpful, logical, healthy, smart, and life-sustaining addictions into bad, harmful, illogical, unhealthy, foolish, life-threatening obsessions. But the biggest problem, by far, is the widespread dishonesty caused by compulsive, dopamine-induced addictions.
As every drug counselor knows, when it comes to addictions, the first step to recovery is honesty.
Which might mean there’s little to no hope for DIMwits who are in the process of putting the kibosh on our species’ time on earth.