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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addiction is a Choice Successfully Challenges Disease Theory
"Addiction Is a Choice," by Jeffrey Schaler, is a refreshing look at a subject endlessly discussed in today's media. Open a newspaper or a magazine today and you are likely to see at least one article on the horrors of drug addiction, and how this terrible "disease" strikes people down, leaving them sick for life, with no chance for anything but a temporary remission...
Published on June 4 2000 by Nicolas Eyle

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3.0 out of 5 stars "CHOICE", "RESPONSIBILITY" OR CULTURE
"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 [my caps for emphasis]." Rejecting such a definition out of hand, Schaler maintains that "people are responsible for their deliberate and...
Published on Dec 2 2000 by Margaret Opine


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Sometimes CONTROVERSY is good!, Jan. 28 2001
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Paperback)
Jeffrey Schaler lays out a different paradigm for addiction recovery in this book, holding alcoholics and addicts responsible for their own choices, which is refreshing and empowering. While taking on the AMA and other forces with financial agendas is risky, Dr. Schaler courageously cuts through the baloney and "tells it like it is". His bibliography is comprehensive and a compelling case is made for abandoning current treatment menthods.
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!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Addiction is a Choice Successfully Challenges Disease Theory, June 4 2000
By 
Nicolas Eyle (Syracuse, New York) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Hardcover)
"Addiction Is a Choice," by Jeffrey Schaler, is a refreshing look at a subject endlessly discussed in today's media. Open a newspaper or a magazine today and you are likely to see at least one article on the horrors of drug addiction, and how this terrible "disease" strikes people down, leaving them sick for life, with no chance for anything but a temporary remission. This sort of drivel fuels the Drug War.
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. "Teaching them that they cannot control themselves may convince them that they cannot control themselves. Teaching them to believe that 'treatment is the only solution to their problem' may persuade them that they cannot solve problems on their own. It reinforces dependency..."
"Addiction Is a Choice" looks like any one of a number of "self help" books on the market, but it certainly doesn't read like them. It tears apart the victim rhetoric so prevalent in today's discussions about addiction, but in a calm, non-threatening way. Schaler sounds as though he's probably as good a psychologist as he is a writer. Understanding the nature of addiction is imperative if we are ever going to deal sensibly with drug use in America. This book does much to help us in that quest.
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3.0 out of 5 stars "CHOICE", "RESPONSIBILITY" OR CULTURE, Dec 2 2000
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Paperback)
"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 [my caps for emphasis]." Rejecting such a definition out of hand, Schaler maintains that "people are responsible for their deliberate and conscious behavior."
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? Isn't culture the result of addiction? Isn't cultural "conditioning" addictive? Doesn't conditioning produce conscious and deliberate acts that are physically pursued so that one can't stop from doing them? And, isn't the purpose of conditioning to insure that people are unable to stop themselves (or find it impossible to stop) from pursuing acts that are contradictive to the conditioning? Don't we try to condition (i.e., addict) people to certain conditioning like the Ten Commandments? And, aren't those cultural tenets?
So there are good addictions and bad ones -- but culturally based.
Why does the addiction occur? Is it culture to do so or is a response to cultural pressures to do so? Are addicts the result of culture or do they create it? When does society take its responsibility for its contribution to addictive behaviors? These are questions neither asked nor answered. To say that individuals" (certain individuals under certain circumstances) are "responsible" for their "conscious and deliberate acts" is culture. The belief can change tomorrow.
Schaler might consider writing about addiction to "poverty" and explain that these are "deliberate" and "conscious choices" that "people are responsible for." Addiction is NEVER a "choice" (a cultural tenet requiring conditioning), but it can be reconditioned out of practice.
Please note that some alcoholics and other drug users, including tobacco addicts, are educated professionals with family and position and even wealth. So "poverty" would have to be redefined (for our reality) in such a way to accommodate these individuals when they pursue it "deliberately" and "consciously" especially when we act to hold them "responsible" for it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Another expert relying on evidence, not pop psychology., Aug. 12 2000
By 
Amazon Customer (Hyattsville, MDUSA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Hardcover)
Dr. Schaler has been called a "libertarian." Perhaps he is that. But if you've ever been subjected to an "intervention" (a human rights violation not yet addressed by Amnesty International), or forced "treatment," believe me, those experiences lead one to that libertarian approach.
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. They MUST rely on their "higher power," whether one calls that power God or anything else. That's not religion? And the 12-step-aholics denial (!) of that is another symptom of the anti-intellectual nature of the "movement."
I probably should state that--and I believe Schaler would corroborate--if a person feels comfortable with a 12-step program, or for that matter with Scientology, he or she should have the freedom to attend whatever meeting(s) s/he likes. But when we're forced by courts to attend such congregations against our will, then there's something wrong. (Fortunately, these forces are being challenged in court, on grounds of religious freedom.)
Schaler is wise too in pointing out that:
(1) many users of allegedly "addictive" substances never become addicted to them;
(2) many an allegedly incurable addict recovered on his or her own, particularly those returning from Vietnam. (So the stupid movies we were shown in high school showing people strung out on this or that demon drug were laugable; those who recovered on their own--and there are many--laugh at that D-grade propaganda);
(3) There are many "addictions," to religion, to fads, what have you. It's just that some are socially acceptable and some are not.
He also challenged the prescriptions of the contemporary panaceas: the antidepressants such a Prozac. (See "Toxic Psychiatry," another good reference on that subject.) During the early to mid-1980s, Valium was the most prescribed drug, given out like candy. By the early 90s, it became one of the demons of the treatment industry. When will Prozac and its cousins fall into the bottomless pit of condemnation by the temerance crowd and that drug's manufacturer start paying their ransom for the concoction now seen as relief for a couple of bucks a hit?
I wish Schaler spent more time commenting on the economics of "treament," face it, the real reason the industry exists. He comments vigorously on the fact that the treatment is a religion, but the emphasis on the monetary motive is one he doesn't stress.
The only other criticism I have is minor but notable. Schaler spends an inordinate amount of space, I felt, commenting on his problems with Moderation Management. While the problems were formidable, the amount of focus on MM reminded me of Carl Sagan's near obsession with Velikovsky in "Broca's Brain." It was a fine book, but the excessive comments on that other author's foolishness distracted from the quality of Sagan's text.
Aside from those minor infractions, I highly recommend the book. Let's those of us who object to the disease model and all its offshoots, including the expensive (And you're paying for it, folks!) "war on drugs" and phony populism (i.e., all of us who are prone to addiction are in the same boat, despite the superficial difference between my immense wealth and your squalor) use information like that in this book to fight the propaganda of the industries capitalizing off of them.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A Must-Read if you are any way involved with addiction!, March 27 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Paperback)
This book "jumped" off the shelf at the bookstore and landed in my hands - right when I needed it to understand more about addiction. I read the first three chapters sitting on the floor of the self-help/recovery isle! After talking with a "therapist" and attending some "meetings" to help me understand my husband's addiction (and those of some of our family members), I just was not feeling "right" about addiction treatment programs. This book offers a fresh, common-sense perspective about addiction, whatever that addiction may be. There is a great deal of sound research cited (although I must admit, I skimmed over those parts and went straight to the meat of the book)and some great examples! Dr. Schaler pulled me right over to seeing his side of things. The only downside to this book is - it left me hungry and wanting to know where I can find practitioners/psychologists/therapists that support this view (practical information). I assume these professionals are hard to find. Thank you Dr. Schaler and PLEASE continue spreading the word!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dr. Schaler busts myth of disease model, Feb. 12 2000
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Paperback)
Anyone concerned about addiction needs to seriously look at this book. Dr. Schaler picks apart the disease model of addiction. This book is a thoughtful journey exploring the myth of the disease model of addiction. Here, Dr. Schaler explores the cults of AA and NA showing how religion and psychotherapy have intertwined in such a way as to take unsuspecting members down a terrible road. These cults remove a person's liberty by diminishing their responsibility for their actions. These cults attempt to replace a person's "addiction to drugs" with an "addiction to religion." The reader clearly sees these programs forcing people to believe they have no control over their lives and put their lives in the hands of a "higher power." A program designed to teach a person to allow some abstract "Supreme Being" to guide them to recovery. It is truly scary and disgusting when you see it in the moral and ethical spotlight that Dr. Schaler shines on these programs. We see how the "War on Drugs" is really a "War on People."
Before anyone considers a program for drug-related problems, read this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, Feb. 5 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Hardcover)
This book dispels many myths about addiction, such as the disease model, which asserts that someone "loses volition" while addicted. As this book rightly points out, people are quite rationally and deliberately able to go to great lengths to obtain more of their "addictions", something which wouldn't be possible if they really were "involuntary", such as a reflex or a seizure. As such, the disease model has no scientific basis.
The book rightly points out that the current models of addiction are tied to our current war on drugs, and thus date back to the Temperance movement.
The addiction treatment industry, psychiatry and psychotherapy, and the War on Drugs, are like three members of a love triangle, all threatening personal freedom and individual liberty (even the freedom to think for oneself). This book doesn't use this metaphor, but mentions all three points.
The book is humane and compassionate towards people who have become addicted to harmful mind-altering drugs. But unlike most current treatment methods, which focus on punishing the addictive behavior itself, this book rightly focuses on "problems of living" which lead to the drug use in the first place. The author rightly points out that punishing an addict for drug use, while not helping to address the underlying problems which led to the addiction in the first place, will not stop the addiction -- it merely replaces it with another one, such as an addiction to 12-step meetings, or an addiction to anti-drug crusades.
The author cites an example of a former teenage addict who was shocked at first, but later relieved, when the author didn't quote treatment industry dogma to her, like all of her former counselors did. He also didn't focus on her addictive behavior, but instead, addressed her problems of living -- problems which led to the addiction in the first place. What a radical concept!
The author advocates complete legalization of drugs, but does not condone their unmoderated use, and fully supports prosecution of offenses committed while under the influence (such as driving under the influence, or murder).
In one of the chapters, the author makes some non-sequitor arguments in favor of mind-brain duality, but this is easily overlooked.
The author questions "either-or" thinking of AA and other recovery groups towards alcoholism and addiction generally, pushing instead for moderation.
This book empowers the individual to make decisions regarding addiction (and everything else), questioning popular opinion which tends to deny choice, and thus denies all freedom and responsibility to the individual, leaving it all up to the state or to the treatment industry.
Too bad the ideas in this book are not accepted more widely, because it would really help curb the "drug problem". It is a refreshing change, in a culture "addicted to addiction treatment".
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5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Everything you Learned in School, Feb. 1 2000
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This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Paperback)
Dr. Schaler has produced an interesting work which casts serious doubts on the concept of addiction as a disease. Schaler discusses the fictional basis for the disease model and the folly of the "War on Drugs." It becomes clear early on in this book that "addiction" was not discovered, but invented to serve the interests of religion, of the state, and of the medical establishment. This book is very easy to read because it does not get bogged down in details about addiction studies (although many he references are worth tracking down). I would recommend this to advocates of either side of the issue and advise the reader to keep an open mind.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Restored my confidence, Nov. 26 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Paperback)
This is a great book. Since attending AA and reading books such as "Under the Influence"(Milam & Ketcham) and "Sober... and Staying That Way" (Powter) my drinking problem got worse not better. AA and books like these led me to believe I had a disease - that I was different from others when it came to alcohol. They reduced my confidence in my ability to deal with my problem. In Schaler's book, as stated in the title, he explains that people drink and use drugs because they choose to and they should look at the reasons why they made that choice. This book has given me the confidence I needed to deal with my problem
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Schaler Misses the Boat with Either/Or Fallacy, June 5 2001
By 
M. JEFFREY MCMAHON "herculodge" (Torrance, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Addiction Is a Choice (Paperback)
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. Addiction is, after all, a choice and we are morally accountable. While I agree with Schaler that we are accountable for our bad choices, these bad choices are, contrary to Schaler, indeed the result of a "diseased" individual whose will has to be subordinated to a new set of values, a change that many people cannot perform on their own volition. Schaler's "Free-Will Model" is partly true and helpful, but ultimately an oversimplification that denies that diseases can be more than literal, scientific afflictions like syphilis. Diseases can, contrary to Schaler's thesis, be of a spiritual origin. For example, a husband who watches internet porn for several hours every night and ignores his family has both made a bad choice and at the same time is demonstrating a diseased spirit. Why can't Schaler see this? And why must Schaler use unimpressive demogoguery to refute his opponents, as he does on page 9, where he writes that if you find his "Free-Will" Model of addiction "ludicrous or outragous, you are addicted to the disease model." Sorry to disappoint you, Dr. Schaler, but I find the disease model, in its extreme, as morally repugnant and illogical as you do. However, I find your extreme free-will model to be an equal oversimplification. The truth is somewhere in the middle. But to force your thesis and your Procrustean cure for addictive behavior, you create an either/or dichotomy, which is not sophisticated or convincing argumentation.
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Addiction Is a Choice
Addiction Is a Choice by Jeffrey A. Schaler (Hardcover - Dec 21 1999)
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