Let’s not link everything to addiction

The Atlantic Wire summarizes a piece on the problem with the media linking everything to addiction:

This week, people who enjoy tanning salons learned that their hobby was an addiction just like drugs or booze. Researchers behind the study, The New York Times relayed, noticed “that several parts of the brain that play a role in addiction were activated when the subjects were exposed to UV rays.” Those areas are referred to as “reward” areas of the brain. But, as Time‘s Maia Szalavitz explained, when they “light up” they don’t prove addiction, they just show enjoyment. So comparing people who enjoy tanning to addicts may be a bit of an exaggeration. She writes: “We do a disservice both to the understanding of the brain and to our decisions regarding drug treatment and policy when we think about it so simplistically.”

Then they pull together a collection of recent examples:

  • A romantic break up is like cocaine addiction
  • A ‘baby’s smile has addictive drug-like qualities for moms’
  • Desserts like Häagan Daz and chocolate milkshakes are a fix
  • A sense of adventure can be exploited