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Tuesday, November 12, 2019


The conclusions drawn from this study reflect a basic failure to understand the nature of addiction. Drug addictions such as alcoholism are regularly substituted for with non-drug behaviors such as compulsive gambling, eating, even compulsive housecleaning. Compulsive activities serve a psychological purpose and are as treatable by psychological approaches as well as any other psychological symptom. The desperation and despair of those trying to end their compulsive behavior obviously cannot be explained by having a somewhat higher pleasure receptivity. Indeed, for those who look for it, there is always a psychological precipitant to new compulsive/addictive actions, a theme that can be learned by those suffering with the symptom. Sadly, the focus on finding a pleasurable basis for compulsive/addictive behavior arises not just from failure to understand the psychological basis of these behaviors but also from the ancient idea that "addicts" are essentially hedonistic, pleasure-seeking individuals -- a moralistic view that is manifestly untrue and we would do well to discard.

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The BASIS is a product of the Division on Addiction, Cambridge Health Alliance, a Harvard Medical School teaching hospital. The Division is an entirely self-funded academic organization that relies on grants, contracts, and gifts in order to produce The BASIS and our other high-quality work.