Book

Outgrowing Addiction

"We do not see addiction as a permanent personal trait," Peele and Rhoads write.

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U.S. drug policy is based on the premise that psychoactive substances cause addiction, which supposedly justifies using force to keep people away from them and to "treat" those who nevertheless manage to obtain politically disfavored intoxicants.

In Outgrowing Addiction, psychologist Stanton Peele and child development consultant Zach Rhoads offer a radically different perspective. They argue that addiction can be understood only in light of personal and social circumstances, which can be changed without coercive intervention (or even professional help) to achieve abstinence or moderation, depending on which is more appropriate for the individual.

The book combines a concise explanation of that view, which Peele has been espousing for nearly half a century, with practical tips for people who want to break bad habits or know others who do, especially parents whose children run into trouble as adolescents. Peele and Rhoads reject the disease model of addiction, which undermines recovery by teaching that self-control is impossible and which promotes the "fantasy that we can sidestep cultural, community, and personal problems" through "medical solutions."

Instead they offer a "developmental model" based on the experiences of people who overcome addictions when they find other sources of pleasure and meaning. Contrary to popular belief, such "natural recovery" is the norm, as illustrated by examples ranging from soldiers who gave up heroin after returning from Vietnam to heavy college drinkers who moderate their consumption when they assume adult responsibilities.

"We do not see addiction as a permanent personal trait," Peele and Rhoads write. "We see it as something that ebbs and flows in individuals over time, and that most of us are bound to outgrow." That "pragmatic, empowering" approach is a welcome antidote to the prevailing view that addicts must be rescued, whether they like it or not, by agents of the state.

NEXT: Blood, Delusions, and Corruption in the American West

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  1. “find other sources of pleasure and meaning” like free solo climbing, nothing self-destructive about that. Else: rape cage!

  2. Instead they offer a “developmental model” based on the experiences of people who overcome addictions when they find other sources of pleasure and meaning.

    Obviously, if a Scotsman can quit on his own, he’s not truly an addicted Scotsman now is he?

  3. After quitting smoking almost 10 years ago, not a day or even very few hours go by without “wanting a smoke”. Watching shows that depict the nearly ubiquitous smoking of much of the 20th century are especially challenging. Man in the High Castle is notable in that regard. Some of the actors depict the pleasure with an infuriating accuracy. Sitting in traffic with an active smoker upwind is another…

    1. Maybe you ought to start smoking again.

      1. Yeah, seems he’d be a fool not to, if it’s as he describes.

  4. So how much longer before even suggesting that people have individual agency and do not need collectivist intervention is deemed harmful and prosecuted by the State?

  5. My wife was a public health nurse. One of her clients was a Filipino man with communicable TB who refused to take his medications. She came back with a cop who told him that if he didn’t take the pill with her watching, he could do so in jail. That is how medical science treats a disease.
    My brother-in-law was a social worker who ‘treated’ alcoholics who had been told to get into a program or lose benefits. His cure rate was less than half compared to those who decided on their own they needed to change. That’s how behaviors change.
    Addiction is not a disease. It is a bad choice, probably brought on by a strong desire to escape reality for whatever reason, from loss, to low self-worth, or just boredom. If any addict is to change, he must decide to do so on his own. Any psychologist or sociologist who says otherwise is trying to keep you from looking behind their curtain.

  6. Addiction is very costly to society because it must either be treated as a disease, crime, or both. It’s kind of ironic how the pharma companies, who medicalised smoking as an addiction, unleashed opioids wit the full blessing of the medical establishment

    1. There is a difference. I can’t think of one thing that smoking ever did for me. Opioids on the other hand were very helpful in reducing pain from a couple injuries I had. That isn’t to say some don’t get addicted through prescription opioids (the last number I recall hearing was 3% do). I do think there must be a way to help them, but the government has made it so that doctors have to cut off those addicted. So what happens is people seek illegal sources and the ones who don’t get addicted have to suffer through pain.

      1. Nicotine, if I’m correct is one of the best known cognitive enhancers.

        1. OK, but smoking is a terrible delivery system. Use snuff, nicotine gum or the patch.

  7. “Instead they offer a “developmental model” based on the experiences of people who overcome addictions when they find other sources of pleasure and meaning. ”

    Once it was easy to find meaning and pleasure in life through work. That doesn’t seem so easy any more with all the stress involved in growing employment sectors like fast food, call centers etc, where workers are surveiled down to the second, their precious fluids taken and subjected to medical testing, etc etc. What happened to pride in a day’s work? No wonder why the temptations of heroin and other drugs are so overwhelming.

    1. Of all addiction theories, the most compelling is the Marxist one.

      1. Marx isn’t the only one who though work ideally gave one meaning and pleasure, Freud, another Jew, thought much the same thing.

    2. “What happened to pride in a day’s work?”

      Haha! The GD government you worship has made it unnecessary to work for so many people. Your brethren have replaced it with pride in one’s color, sexual preference, race, physical deficiency, etc, anything but work.

      1. “anything but work.”

        And anything but work is an inadequate substitute for a source of meaning and pleasure. If you think that the colour of one’s skin is such a source, don’t be surprised if you find yourself chasing the dragon (imbibing No. 4) like the rest of America’s losers.

  8. I think that a lot of “addiction therapy” is a scam… See this example:

    Yes, I am an asshole… I have bribed some shrinks to explain that I have a “personality disorder” instead. So whenever I act like an asshole, I can whine and moan to the courts, and they will let me off!!! Then the taxpayer will pony up, and I will go and see my fave shrink-therapist-recipient-of-my-rivers-of-tears-of-self-pity… And I will steer the taxpayer monies to my fave uncle-shrink!!! He’ll therapueutricize my assholeishness, ooops, I mean, my “personality disorder”!!! He’ll give me a kickback, and we’ll laugh all of the way to the bank!

    Also, for all of you who believe everyone who acts like an asshole has a “mental problem” that can be properly treated by a shrink or therapist, that they should be forced to get Obama-care-mandated, taxpayer-funded drug addiction (or other) “therapy” from the likes of “Chris Bathum”, see http://www.malibutimes.com/news/article_62b16ee4-2246-11e8-b456-1f240b332af0.html ,
    Malibu ‘Rehab Mogul’ Guilty on 31 Criminal Counts
    Christopher Bathum’s rap sheet includes a long list of charges, from fraud to forcible rape.
    Your tax and health-insurance money at work!!!

    In case I am too long-winded and not clear above… What I am saying is, if you are an asshole and want to NOT be an asshole (be cured of your “personality disorder”), then good on you, you recognize your problems; that is a LARGE part of the solution! But be VERY careful when you go to the Government-Almighty-certified “therapists”… Some significant number of them may be even bigger assholes than you are!!! (“Physician, heal thyself!!!!”) And NEVER take ANY kind of therapy from Tulpa, or from Tulpa’s head voices!!!

    1. “Tulpa”

      Looks like he lives in your head rent free.

      1. Just go to the Oregon Standoff thread that SQRLSY shit crazy all over if you have any doubt.

        1. Yes, and half of that was Tulpoopy using fake ID-names (handles) where he-she-it pretends to be you… Using identity theft, basically, to say stuff that you didn’t say, using your name! Inserting invisible control characters in your name, when he-she-it posts… A classic shitweasel trouble-maker, who has NOTHING better to do with life!

      2. Right along with my urges to eat shit and then barf. Fortunately, I strangle these thoughts in their crib. Too bad that no one thought of doing that with Tulpa… But that would be “pre-crime” punishment, which I generally do NOT subscribe to!

  9. “Peele and Rhoads reject the disease model of addiction, which”

    Thank God

  10. Peele and Rhoads reject the disease model of addiction, which undermines recovery by teaching that self-control is impossible and which promotes the “fantasy that we can sidestep cultural, community, and personal problems” through “medical solutions.”

    If only AA would get the message.

    1. What if it got misdirected to AAA?

  11. The concept of addiction as a disease or moral deficit is rooted in the Judeo-Christian idea of self-denial.

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