In response to my post yesterday about medication eventually helping people with addictions, Suber questioned what exactly addiction is. My reply…
Addictive behavior can be looked at in many ways. Taking Suber’s example of obesity, there may be a problem with motivation (not exercising), decision making (eating more, despite health problems), pleasure seeking (not being satisfied with healthy portions of food), inhibitory control (not stopping eating when full), etc.
The medical definitions of addiction speak to behavior only – more and more gambling, despite having negative consequences, e.g. work suffers, family life suffers, finances suffer, etc. Medical definitions currently do not speak to cause – e.g. is it too much pleasure seeking or not enough inhibitory control?
My prediction would be that someday these causes will be understood biologically, and what may follow are specific treatments, including medication, for specific causes. E.g, if your dopamine levels are low, and you don’t get the normal pleasure from 1 piece of pie or 1 hour of poker, you could take a “dopamine-adjusting” pill to feel better, instead of needing the whole pie or a whole night of gambling to enjoy the experience. Conversely, if your GABA levels are low, and you don’t have normal inhibitory pathways working, you would take a “GABA-adjusting” pill instead.
Better living thru pharmacology.