RE: Addiction

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Tue 26 Nov 2002 - 17:56:16 GMT

  • Next message: Grant Callaghan: "RE: Addiction"

    --- "Lawrence DeBivort" <> wrote:
    >Well said!
    >> -----Original Message-----
    >> From: []On Behalf
    >> Of Grant Callaghan
    >> Lawry,
    >> I think only the habits we want to get rid of and find hard to break are
    >> called addictions. The ones we want to keep are called virtues. ;)
    >> Cheers,
    >> Grant

    This may be true in a first-glance poetic way, but is this true also in a more scientific way. Therefore, let's zoom in on this issue in a more functional/evolutionary way.

    Suppose, for starters, that addictions are unconditionally disadvantageous, that is: addicts have a lower chance of survival than non-addicts. Consequently, according to this strong hypothesis, an evolutionary pressure would build up favoring the non-addict, while addicts would become extinct after a sufficient number of generations.

    Now, since there obviously are still junkies around, the above premise seems to be implausible (or we haven't seen enough generations passing by...). The negative of the above hypothesis seems to me more plausible: addictive behavior is sometimes advantageous and sometimes disadvantageous. How can addiction be advantageous I hear you ask? Well, suppose you are addicted to achieving success in business or making money (two examples which should not ring unfamiliar to many in the US of A :-) ). Although the mental state of such an addict may not differ much from a drug-addict (craving, insatiable feelings etc.), there may be a huge difference in survival prospect. The former may, through great drive/compulsion, become a successful business-man, entrepeneur or professional jock, while the latter kind of addict usually ends up in a gutter with a needle stuck in his arm (or a bottle in his hand). Constitutionally (i.e. genetically) there is no difference between the `healthy' junkie and the 'unhealthy' junkie. The healthy junkie reproduces (with a possibly more-than-average number of offspring) and it remains to be seen if the kids become as good as dad's or turn sour (druggie) instead. This way, the former `good' kind keeps preventing the latter `bad' kind from getting extinct due to regular evolutionary pressures.



    ps. Don't expect a load of messages yet, I returned to Holland and do not have access to proper facilities to go ape and reply like a madman. These messages on addiction just caught my extra attention. But, like Arnold, `I'll be back' (eventually)...

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