RE: Addiction

From: Philip Jonkers (
Date: Fri 17 Jan 2003 - 19:05:43 GMT

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    I know it's a kinda late reply, but hey better late than never, right?

    > I think most addictive drugs do confer
    >some benefit that balances the destructive nature of the habit. Alcohol, in
    >a cold climate, makes one feel warmer and able to survive the cold.

    This is not true, in fact it's quite the contrary:

    > Heroin
    >eases pain.

    This is only superficially and initially true. Heroin simulates the working of endorphin, the body's natural pain-killer. Once heroin intake becomes frequent enough the body reacts by diminishing or ceasing the production and release of endorphins since the function of killing pain has been fully assumed by heroin. Failure to take heroin then leads to immediate sensation of physical pain which are normally suppressed by endorphins (the user goes `cold turkey'). Heroin intake has now become habitual. A further downside of heroin addiction is not it's toxicity, which is admittedly relatively low, but it's effect of causing the user to neglect it's own welfare. You don't feel hungry or pain anymore once you're high. Of course, these effects wear off as the habit progresses leading to a rather permanent sensation of feeling miserable as experienced by the habitual user. Ergo, it's not really inviting to get ourselves a nice fix of heroin is it?

    >Pot relaxes a person without unduly getting in the way of

    On the upside, pot is cool and relaxing... on the downside it can make you paranoid. I have tons of friends in Holland who quit taken pot for that reason.

    >Opium used to be used to stop stomach convulsions that accompanied
    >some forms of diarrhea. In addition, each of these substances gives the
    >user a temporary feeling of euphoria.

    Agreed, smoking opium like chewing coca-leaves are benign relative to the heavier kinds of dope.

    >So the pain of addiction is balanced with other virtues that offset the

    Yeah.... well... (cynical)

    >On top of that, the addiction usually doesn't
    >interfere with procreation, and therefore is not affected by the problem of
    >stopping a person from reproducing.

    I'm not saying that junks or alcoholics are infertile or cannot have children in any other way. I'm thinking in terms of fitness and statistics. If history showed that childbirth-rates are lower among junks and infant-death rates are higher among junks and alcoholics a selective pressure would have been built up favoring sober parents. Hence the genes causing addiction probably would have been eliminated from the gene-pool (unless the process of elimination is still happening right now). However, such genes have not disappeared, which is consistent with the idea that addiction is not to be found exclusively among junks and alcoholics but also among the `normal' population. And then we have the issue of as to what extent addiction actually is cultural instead of genetic. If it is cultural to great enough extent, junk-behavior can be maintained also by cultural transmission. A complicated matter in other words. Anybody have a clue?


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