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Addiction and ChoiceRethinking the relationship$
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Nick Heather and Gabriel Segal

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198727224

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727224.001.0001

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Addiction, compulsion, and weakness of the will

Addiction, compulsion, and weakness of the will

A dual-process perspective

Chapter:
(p.116) Chapter 7 Addiction, compulsion, and weakness of the will
Source:
Addiction and Choice
Author(s):

Edmund Henden

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198727224.003.0007

How should addictive behavior be explained? In terms of neurobiological illness and compulsion, or as a choice made freely, even rationally, in the face of harmful social or psychological circumstances? Some of the disagreement between proponents of the prevailing medical models and choice models in the science of addiction centers on “loss of control” as a normative characterization of addiction. I examine two of the standard interpretations of loss of control in addiction, one according to which addicts have lost free will, the other according to which their will is weak. I argue that both interpretations are mistaken and propose therefore an alternative based on a dual-process approach. This alternative neither rules out a capacity in addicts rationally to choose to engage in drug-oriented behavior, nor the possibility that addictive behavior can be compulsive and depend upon harmful changes in their brains caused by the regular use of drugs.

Keywords:   addiction, choice, weakness of will, compulsion, dual-process approach

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