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Ben is Back — or is he?

Yesterday I watched “Ben is Back” — a recently released feature film about a heroin-addicted young man (Lucas Hedges) and his heroic and tenacious mother (Julia Roberts) who tries her best to keep him “clean.” Ben is around 20 years old (at which age I too was also shooting heroin). He scams a trip home […] (Read the rest.)

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Substance (not just substances) in addiction

The word “substance” may have a double-meaning when it comes to addiction. The basic meaning is obvious: the substance is a chemical that we want badly and pursue relentlessly. But the second meaning of “substance” is suggested by a well-documented phenomenon: the parallel between substance addictions and behavioural addictions. The feelings, actions, and brain changes […] (Read the rest.)

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Addiction: Narrowing brains in narrowing environments

The paper I recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine (linked here, summary linked here) detailed my best arguments against the disease model of addiction. But it also explored new territory, and that’s the topic of today’s post. I emphasized (as I have for years) that addiction is learned. It is not a […] (Read the rest.)

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Getting SMART in Boston

It’s been 2 1/2 weeks since I put up that summary of Maia Szalavitz’s excellent article. Busy time since then. But now I’m in Boston, visiting my friend Matt Robert and a few others, and sitting in on SMART recovery meetings. Matt has been a SMART facilitator for over six years. I came here to […] (Read the rest.)

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A very simple reason why it’s dumb to call addiction a disease

I just listened to the first 15 minutes of a lecture by Robert Sapolsky, a renowned biologist and Stanford professor. Sapolsky begins with an incisive lesson on why humans rely on categories. Categories, he says, make it easier to think about complex phenomena. And human social behaviour is nothing if not complex. My friend Tom […] (Read the rest.)

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