Deriving Addiction

An analysis based on three elementary features of making choices

Authored by: Gene M. Heyman

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy and Science of Addiction

Print publication date:  June  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138909281
eBook ISBN: 9781315689197
Adobe ISBN:


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Individuals make choices according to quantifiable behavioral principles. Depending on specifiable conditions, these principles produce optimal outcomes, near optimal outcomes, or seriously sub-optimal outcomes, which involve compulsive-like, excessive levels of consumption of a highly preferred substance or activity (Heyman 2009). In this chapter I focus on three elementary features of how people make choices. Although they are perfectly ordinary and are active in all decision making, they can result in drug binges, excessive drug use, and the pattern of remission and relapse that characterizes addiction. By analogy meteorology textbooks teach us that the physics that governs everyday weather is the same physics that foments typhoons. My analysis begins with a brief overview of the topic to be explained: addiction.

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