what is your opinion on this reading,
Forum 1: Is Drug Addiction a Choice?
Each student is asked to argue with leading social scientists, health care professionals, and social commentators controversial issues in addiction. It is hoped that by developing critical debate-style thinking skills each student will enhance their personal judgments on a variety of controversial issues. In forming your opinions a student should not feel confined to adopt one or the other of the positions presented. Some readers may see important points on both sides of an issue and may construct for themselves a new and creative approach. Such an approach might incorporate the best of both sides, or it might provide an entirely new vantage point for understanding the issue.
Each student is asked to first read a summary of the issue for debate (see below) and then enter the forum for discussion. Following the discussion, and after you have "argued" your point of view, state your current position on the issue being discussed in the forum.
Issue 1: Is Drug Addiction a Choice? (Text book plus reading material below)
There is little debate that drug addiction is a major problem. Drug addiction wreaks havoc for society and ruins the lives of numerous individuals. The causes of drug addiction are many. Because alcohol and drug abuse can be viewed as a matter of free will or as a brain disorder, there are also different views on how society should deal with substance abusers. Should alcohol and drug addicts be incarcerated or treated?
One could argue that free will and the concept of brain disorder both apply to addiction. What may start out as a matter of free will may turn into an illness. What may start out as an occasional drinking or drug taking experience may become abusive or addictive. For example a person who may use alcohol or drugs for social purposes, but his or her use may develop into a chronic pattern-one that the person cannot easily overcome. Initially, one can stop using various substances without too much discomfort. As time passes, however, and drinking becomes heavier, stopping for some becomes difficult. By its very definition, social drinkers or drug users can stop at will.
It is widely believed that many people use addictive drugs and do not become dependent on them. Perhaps there are factors beyond free will and changes in the brain that account for those who become dependent. Is it possible that social factors come into play? Can friends and colleagues and their attitudes about drugs influence whether or not a drug user becomes a drug abuser or an addict? In the final analysis, addiction may result from the interaction of numerous factors and not simply be a dichotomy between psychology and biology.
Leshner states that there are 72 risk factors for drug abuse and addiction, although one may have many of these risk factors yet not become drug dependent. Not all risk factors are equally important, says Leshner. Stanton Peele, an outspoken critic of the disease concept, discusses this issue in "Hungry for the Next Fix," Reason (May 2002). Another article that explores whether or not addiction is a matter of biology is "Addiction and Responsibility," by Richard J. Bonnie,Social Research (Fall 2001). Sally Satel, in "The Fallacies of No-Fault Addiction," The Public Interest (Winter 1999), describes the views of numerous drug addiction experts. An article that contends that drug addiction is primarily genetic is Ronald Kotaluk's "Nearly Everyone Inherits Genetic Vulnerability to Drug Abuse," Chicago Tribune(March 14, 1999).