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The Addiction Myth

The Addiction Myth

A recent study found marijuana to be the least risky of recreational drugs alongside the likes of tobacco, LSD, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy and meth.  In fact the new “bad boy” of the aforementioned lot is alcohol,  which was stated to be roughly 114 times more deadly than marijuana.  But whether we are talking about cannabis, alcohol or any other “addictive” substance it is worth looking at our definition of addiction anew.  Many would have you believe that addiction is when you take any given person and introduce them to a vice like cigarettes and -voila!  You’ve created an addiction!  There is a critical fallacy in this assumption because we are not looking at addiction in a broader, epigenetic sense.

Epigenetics 101

Dr. Bruce Lipton, a key contributor to the field of epigenetics, helped us to understand that genes are not absolute, and in fact our genes are merely options which our epigenomes activate or deactivate depending on environmental factors and events. In fact, every cell in your body is genetically identical and it is the epigenome that determines what kind of cell it should be. Shorthand: genes are hardware, epigenomes are software.  Watch this short video should this topic pique your interest.

Our definition of the word “addiction,” in any form (internet, eating, gambling, video games etc.) must now include life events working in conjunction with genetic factors that ultimately lead a person to fill a developmental void with their vice of choice.  Dr. Gabor Maté, author of  “In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction,”  declared in an interview that “No substance, no drug is by itself addictive and no behavior is addictive. Many people can go shopping without becoming shopaholics, not everyone becomes a food addict, not everyone who drinks a glass of wine becomes an alcoholic…..it’s the combination of a susceptible individual and the potentially addictive substance or behavior that makes for the full flowering of addiction.”  As a society we don’t consider the life events that lead to people getting hooked on any given substance in the first place, instead, we demonize the providers of said vices without looking at the factors that create susceptibility such as: parental absence, nutritional deficiencies, as well as physical, and sexual abuse.  Easier to interdict at the sources of said substances than to tackle the more complex, psycho-social factors right?  Still, it is irresponsible to continue the addiction dialogue without addressing these critical, underlying elements. The erroneous assumption that anything in and of itself is “addictive” ends up generating confusion and ineffective drug intervention strategies.


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