Addiction Is a Choice Hardcover – Dec 21 1999
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From Kirkus Reviews
paper 0-8126-9404-X The pendulum has begun its swing backcould it be that drug and alcohol addictions are not diseases after all, but bad personal choices? Can addiction be overcome by mustering the strength of character to turn away from such choices? Psychologist Schaler (Justice, Law, and Society/American Univ.; Smoking, Who Has the Right?, not reviewed) argues convincingly that society has erred in giving in completely to the AA vision that addiction is a disease, that addicts can't help themselves, and that they need a higher power to be saved. Addiction (which at one time meant only devotion or dedication) has come to mean ``any activity which individuals engage in, deliberately and consciously, and are physically unable to stop themselves from pursuing. Rejecting such a definition out of hand, Schaler maintains that ``people are responsible for their deliberate and conscious behavior. He is sympathetic for those struggling with addiction; he doesn't oversimplify his own or his opponents arguments; and he readily acknowledges his philosophical forefathers (Thomas Szasz, for one, from the last time the pendulum was at this end of its arc). His reading of the results of research into addictionthat it fails to support the disease modelis convincing. And his resulting suggestions for changes in public policy and for individual change demand consideration. If not a new model for viewing addiction, at least a provocative update of an old one. -- Copyright ©2000, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
A clear and fascinating read. The wealth of information and fresh insights reflect the writer's career as a scholar-teacher-therapist, and especially his many years of research and practical work in the addiction field. The book dispels many myths about addiction and should provide liberating insights to the afflicted. -- Herbert Fingarette, author of Heavy Drinking, Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, UCSB
Addiction Is a Choice is a powerful antidote against the twin poisons of anti-drug propaganda and drug prohibition. -- Thomas Szasz, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, SUNY Health Science Center, Syracuse
Schaler drives a stake into the heart of the 'disease' concept of addictions. Millions of people have stopped smoking, abusing mind-altering drugs, and drinking addictively on their own, without the intervention of counselors or doctors or programs. Dr. Schaler explains persuasively why and how this happens, despite all the genetic and hormonal predispositions. -- Joseph Gerstein, M.D. F.A.C.P., Harvard Medical School
This is indeed a rare book. Schaler has provided a unique, masterly work which explains addiction from a revelatory perspective. The reader can learn how the controversial area of addiction can be looked at and understood in a new light. -- Morris Chafetz, M.D., Founding Director National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Inside This Book(Learn More)
Today, just about everyone believes, or says they believe, that addicts-including regular smokers, heavy drinkers, frequent gamblers, presidents who seduce interns, and people who run up credit card debts-can't help themselves. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
Top Customer Reviews
For those people with substance abuse problems who cannot buy into the "disease model" promoted by AA and most recovery institutions, this book is welcome relief! To be held accountable for one's own actions (as any OTHER adult is in this society!) is a GOOD thing! While AA may be helping some people recover, there are plenty more who don't "resonate" with AA teachings and beliefs, and for addicts and alcoholics to reclaim the power to abstain, after professing "powerlessness" in 12-Step meetings, is a blessing indeed!
The idea that prohibition is necessary because "once someone makes the decision to use an illegal drug all capacity for rational thought disappears and force is the only thing that will save them" is so often repeated that it is accepted by a large number of the public who ought to know better. Jeff Schaler does know better and makes his point effectively.
Schaler tells the frightening story of a teenage girl, brought to him by her mother. The girl was suspended from school and had been in trouble for drug use. The parents were worried. She had been to another doctor, but she continued to use drugs. She had been told that she suffered from the disease of drug addiction and felt helpless and depressed. Schaler told her that addiction was a choice and she had control over her life. The girl believed him and, during treatment, took back control of her life and stopped using drugs. Then, to avoid the peer pressure in public high school to take drugs, she applied to a special school for students who had used drugs. The principal would not admit the girl to the school because the principal believed that the girl was in denial about her "disease."
Schaler spells out the dangers of adhering to the disease model of addiction. "Teaching people in 'treatment' for addiction problems that they 'don't know they have a problem' may create a problem for them," he writes.Read more ›
In this context, without getting into a long discussion, it is obvious that addictive behavior is culturally based and "choice" tenets are culturally set and only certain "conscious behaviors" will be considered to be the responsibility of individuals in society, and I might add, only certain individuals in society.
We live in a culture today that endorses "personal responsibility," so we will have these positions that will argue for setting cultural tenets for it.
So this means that we will deliberately and consciously admonish, punish, even execute individuals who fall prey to cultural manipulations and pressures resulting from cultural constructs. Punishing individuals who do not meet the ideals may be an addiction our American society has and should take responsibility for.
We can form tenets for or against certain behaviors. We know that a man consciously and deliberately beats his wife but do we know when it becomes addictive behavior? Is there cultural tenets for that, and against that? We know that men consciously and deliberately molest children but at what point do we know when it becomes addictive behavior? We know that the mind can consciously and deliberately pursue not eating but can we say that the addiction is not a result of cultural cues and metaphors? Does addiction occur without culture and does culture occur without addiction?Read more ›
It's amazing how we accept as fact that which is shouted the loudest. The disease model has been blown from every bullhorn since the temperance movement, therefore we accept it. There are a few rebels, those who rely on facts--evidence--rather than the platitudes of the treatment gurus and 12-step addicts who've captured the market. So addiction is one of the leading buzzwords of the day. It's also a means of making us all alike. You know, I may have a bank balance of a billion, could buy Iran in a quick real estate deal, but I'm addicted to such and such, so I'm in the same boat with you, poor moron, who lives in the city and doesn't stop complaining. On that concept, another book has yet to be written.
The "treatment" industry thrives, wasting untold billions of dollars of our insurance premiums on little more than religious sayings. In the meantime, tobacco companies shell out millions for the victims of tobacco "addiction." (Can I get some of that loot? I quit smoking over 20 years ago! No treatment; no 12-step bumper stickers!)
While we most often don't see the 12-step programs as a religion, Schaler does. I know from experience with its adherents--even in "treatment" into which I was coerced--that they claim they're not responsible individuals but victims of genetic circumstance, the propensity for addiction over which they have no control.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I came into this book really wanting to like it. The title suggests that this will be a rigorous refutation of the weak-minded victimization that afflicts our society. Read morePublished on June 5 2001 by M. JEFFREY MCMAHON
After hearing Schaler on a radio interview, I was excited about reading this book. For several years, I have maintained that alcoholism was not an illness and have had discussion... Read morePublished on Dec 2 2000 by Doug Thornwoods
This is a great book. Since attending AA and reading books such as "Under the Influence"(Milam & Ketcham) and "Sober... Read morePublished on Nov. 26 2000
Having tried to stop my addictions to Vicodin and benzos on my own many times, I can tell you that it is not a choice. Read morePublished on April 16 2000
This book "jumped" off the shelf at the bookstore and landed in my hands - right when I needed it to understand more about addiction. Read morePublished on March 27 2000
Anyone concerned about addiction needs to seriously look at this book. Dr. Schaler picks apart the disease model of addiction. Read morePublished on Feb. 12 2000 by Jerry G. Prochazka
This book dispels many myths about addiction, such as the disease model, which asserts that someone "loses volition" while addicted. Read morePublished on Feb. 5 2000
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