On February 10, 2014, The New York Times' Room for Debate series tackled the important and complex issue of addiction and treatment. These essays provide a well-rounded look at the causes of addiction, and more importantly, what can be done to break the cycle. As Boston College's Gene Heyman wrote, "What research shows is that those we label addicts have the capacity to take control of their lives. It is time to reformulate drug policy and addiction interventions on the basis of this well-established finding."
It Is a Disease and Needs to Be Treated as Such
David Sack, Psychiatrist
"Research has shown that it has the properties of other medical disorders, including genetic links and a susceptibility to medication."
As With Other Problems, Class Has a Role
Carl L. Hart, Columbia University
"Crack became popular in poor areas because there were few 'competing reinforcers,' other affordable sources of pleasure and purpose."
A Spiritual Understanding Is Needed
Lisa Miller, Spirituality Mind Body Institute, Columbia University
"A personal relationship with a higher power is the most powerful protection against the "mystic consciousness'' of substance abuse."
A Matter of Difficult Choices
Gene Heyman, Boston College
"Most addicts keep using until penalties of excessive use become overwhelming. Research shows that addicts can take control of their lives."
Bad Habits Can Be Learned and Unlearned
Marc Lewis, Author, "Memoirs of an Addicted Brain"
"Addiction involves the pursuit of attractive goals. It is hardly abnormal. It involves brain changes because that's how learning works."
No Quick Fix or Simple Approach Will Do
Peg O'Connor, Gustavus Adolphus College
"Doctors tell pre-diabetic patients to make healthy choices, but those can be beyond the control of many people."