Tag Archives | Addiction
When writer Steve Martin started collecting antique pipes and related ephemera from the age of opium dens, he began a journey that would end with a full-blown addiction to a drug most people thought died away in the 19th century. Martin discovered a hidden world where opium smoking still flourished and soon found that he had difficulty leaving it. Check out a fascinating interview with Martin at Collectors Weekly.
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“It took a while to really understand what I had. At first, of course, there were these opium dens in Laos that I could get to quite easily. Vientiane was an overnight train ride from Bangkok, where I was living. I would take tools up to the opium dens and see if the old smokers there knew what they were. Often they did, although they hadn’t seen some of the pieces in years and years.
Newsweek magazine just ran a front-cover story asking, “Is the Web driving us mad?” It cites new scientific research to argue that the internet is causing depression, changing our brain structure, and creating other mental illnesses. One UCLA research director tells the magazine “the computer is like electronic cocaine,” fueling a similar cycle of highs and then lows, and they also cite California psychologist (and book author) Larry Rosen, who believes the internet “encourages – and even promotes – insanity.”
But at least one response argues that Newsweek is deliberately overstating the research, citing misleading sentences like “When the new DSM is released next year, Internet Addiction Disorder will be included for the first time, albeit in an appendix tagged for ‘further study’…”
Here’s the beginning of the Newsweek story by Tony Dokoupil:
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Before he launched the most viral video in Internet history, Jason Russell was a half-hearted Web presence.
Stephen Diamond writes in Psychology Today back in 2009:
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Greed, like lust and gluttony, is traditionally considered a sin of excess. But greed tends to be applied to the acquisition of material wealth in particular. St. Thomas Aquinas said that greed is “a sin against God, just as all mortal sins, in as much as man condemns things eternal for the sake of temporal things.” So greed or avarice was seen by the Church as sinful due to its overvaluation of the mundane rather than immaterial or spiritual aspects of existence. Avarice can describe various greedy behaviors such as betrayal or treason for personal gain, hoarding of material things, theft, robbery, and fraudulent schemes such as Madoff’s, designed to dishonestly manipulate others for personal profit. Where does greed originate?
Both greed and gluttony correspond closely with what Guatama Buddha called desire: an over-attachment to the material world and its pleasures which is at the root of all human suffering.
The New York Times Magazine ran a fascinating cover story on April 4, 2012 written with wisdom, humor and insight by Sam Anderson.
Anderson’s basic premise is that the concept of gaming has changed. For decades, a special class of teen or young adult gamer would use specialized systems, to play complex multi-player, multi-level games that might last from a few hours to many days or even weeks. Now, however, anyone can play a quick game — what Anderson terms a “stupid game” — any time of the day or night right there on their smartphone that rests somewhere next to their body 24/7. And this, Anderson argues, has changed the world of gaming to
” . . . not just hard-core gamers, but their mothers, their mailmen and their college professors. Consumers who never would have put a quarter into an arcade or even set eyes on an Xbox 360 were now carrying a sophisticated game console with them, all the time, in their pockets or their purses.”
For decades I scrupulously avoided video games even when my four children delighted in playing them.… Read the rest
It should come as no surprise that we are all hopelessly addicted to our devices, particularly our smartphones. Why shouldn’t we be? We are now able to carry a powerful computer around 24/7 in our pocket or purse. The new “WWW” really means “Whatever, Wherever, Whenever.” And we are all succumbing to its draw. Just look at any restaurant table and you will see phones sitting next to forks and knives. It is normal to see someone pick up a smartphone, tap tap tap and put it back down while in the middle of talking. Is this healthy or are we all headed down a slippery slope toward what I call an “iDisorder.”
An iDisorder is where you exhibit signs and symptoms of a psychiatric disorder such as OCD, narcissism, addiction or even ADHD, which are manifested through your use — or overuse — of technology. Whether our use of technology makes us exhibit these signs or simply exacerbates our natural tendencies is an open question, but the fact is we are all acting as though we are potentially diagnosable.… Read the rest
You might be tempted to chuckle about some Norwegian researchers peering back at experiments done during the '60s and '70s with LSD as a treatment for alcoholism. But don't. Their rigorous analysis, combining data from six different studies, concludes that one dose of the hallucinogenic drug might just help. The past studies randomly assigned patients to get a strong dose of LSD or something else (another drug, such as amphetamine, a low dose of LSD or nothing special). And the results provide evidence for a beneficial effect on abstinence from alcohol. For what it's worth, the analysis, just published online by the Journal of Psychopharmacology, was funded by the Research Council of Norway, not exactly a fringe outfit ...
An inoculation could make the ravages of drug dependency an ailment of the past. One imagines the tobacco and pharmaceutical industries putting up an epic battle a few years down the road when researchers turn their sights toward developing vaccines to eliminate cigarette and painkiller addiction. Reuters reports:
A group of Mexican scientists is working on a vaccine that could reduce addiction to one of the world’s most notorious narcotics: heroin. They have successfully tested the vaccine on mice and are preparing to test it on humans.
The vaccine, which has been patented in the United States, works by making the body resistant to the effects of heroin, so users would no longer get a rush of pleasure when they smoke or inject it.
Now you might think that’s a crazy headline, but as Frank Bruni points out in the New York Times, “Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, [and] the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent”! (Disinfonauts outside the US, let us know how alcohol is taxed in your country)
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… excise taxes on alcohol have gone down over the last few decades, when adjusted for inflation and measured in terms of the percentage they represent of the wholesale and retail price of a bottle or a can. The federal government and many states long ago set those levies in terms of a certain dollar amount per gallon — and then didn’t tweak them much as the cost of living went up.
Because Congress last revised excise taxes on distilled spirits in 1991, the real value of those taxes has declined more than 35 percent, said Alexander Wagenaar, a professor at the University of Florida’s College of Medicine who specializes in alcohol research.
Is Adderall the crystal meth of the middle and upper classes? Well, both drugs became huge at around the same time. The Fix writes that prices are skyrocketing and panic and withdrawal are setting in across the nation as pharmacies’ shelves run short:
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When Jay V.’s pharmacist told him about the nationwide Adderall shortages last weekend, he reacted as any economically rational finance professional would, and attempted to bribe her. Whatever the cost, “it’s cheaper than cocaine,” his reasoning went. And even if it isn’t, you can’t put a price on never having to go back to doing bumps in the work bathroom to get through late night deal committee meetings, can you?
Jay’s pharmacist said she was reserving her supply for regular customers, but that the price had doubled and the clock was ticking.
If addiction is the kind of thing you think about a lot, it’s easy to overlook its significance in the cold, objective Realpolitik scheme of things, which is this: it’s a great fucking business model.