Addiction and responsibility

The issue of responsibility is important for many reasons. Policy decisions about restricting freedoms and punishment rest on these beliefs.

In another post referencing the new ASAM definition of addiction, Keith Humphreys steps into the murky territory of addiction and personal responsibility:

It is reasonable to say to someone who is not addicted “Please be more responsible about your substance use — you are choosing to act in a fashion that may eventually get you addicted.” It is equally reasonable to say to someone who is addicted “Are you being responsible in the management of your addiction, are you attending your AA meetings, staying out of bars, etc?.” But it is not logically reasonable to say “Why don’t you stop being addicted?”. They would if they could, but they can’t, and that should I think evoke some sympathy, which is in no way contradictory with expectations that the person will be responsible about how they manage their disorder.

I think this good in a very broad kind of way, but it’s also important to acknowledge that volitional control may ebb and flow and their ability to manage their addiction doesn’t rest on a simple decision to do so.

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