Is drug addiction really the unrelenting hell portrayed by the media and popular culture, or has it more to do with lifestyle or even genetics? Has it less to do with chemistry and more to do with psychology?
Stress Induced Addiction
According to Cindy Galvin, a therapist offering RTT and hypnotherapy for addiction in London, the addiction does not reside in the pharmacology of the drug but rather is caused by the stressful, unfulfilled lifestyle of the individual. Ms. Galvin concedes that some substances after repeated use do cause withdrawal symptoms. “However, most people,” Cindy says, “will use even the most addictive substances, and will use them perhaps repeatedly, but this does not lead the user to losing their self-control and developing an overwhelming desire for the drug.” In her book “Opening Skinner’s Box” Lauren Slater Ph.D., cites the drug usage of serving soldiers in the Vietnam War as proof of this, claiming that ninety percent of returning soldiers with an addiction to heroin once home gave up the drug completely and never returned to it again. He would also refer to studies
that show that most hospital patients who had received high dosages of morphine were able to come off the drug with ease once the pain began to ease. Slater concludes that addiction is a lifestyle choice, with less to do with chemicals and more to do with culture.
Are Drugs an Excuse for Poor Resolve?
Slater is not alone in her theory as there is a growing persuasion that it is a person’s inability to face the hardships and stresses of life that cause the addiction, and the drug has become an excuse for the lack of a determined effort to cope.
Addiction – is it in the Genes?
There are of course scientists with other contrasting theories with just as much science to substantiate their findings, such as Dr Herbert Kleber, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Substance Abuse at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University, who has been a pioneer in the research and treatment of drug addiction since the late 1980s. He said in an interview with Dr. Herbert Kleber. “The difference between those drug users who become addicted and those who don’t lies not in their lifestyle but rather in their genes.” Dr. Kieber adheres to the theory that the defective gene can make a person for more vulnerable to addiction.
However, and notwithstanding the science that confirms much of these findings, there are the actual addicts who understand and care nothing for these findings. Individuals who, according to Barry R. McCaffrey, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, live with a craving that can never be fulfilled and a despair that seems irresolvable.
The Christian recovery program Teen Challenge would see their drug addiction as being the cause of the lifestyle not the lifestyle being the cause of the addiction. When thinking of drug addicts, a person is inclined to picture some pathetic creature living in squalid surroundings. But what about the respectable businesswoman who is addicted to pain killers or the socialites who have the means to sustain their addictions and live in a sub-culture that does not censure drug use.
According to Dr. Kleber the middle-class drug user generally has enough funds and contentment of lifestyle to dampen stress. Therefore, he would conclude that in the event they were to become addicted, it would be due to a genetic imbalance rather than a shield from stress.
Throughout history, a great many people and institutions have tried to help drug addicts. There are thousands of different programs throughout the world, trying to help those who have psychological and physiological problems with drugs. Yet, the success rate for these programs is extraordinarily low. There is still much to be done.