I know a lot of this week’s advocates of the choice argument are not, in any way, arguing that addicts are bad people. However, I can’t help but wonder what role pleasure plays in their resistance to the disease model and insistence on a choice argument. Kevin McCauley addresses the role of pleasure in advocacy for the choice argument:
Addiction is a disorder of the brain’s ability to properly perceive pleasure. I think it’s this moral loading of pleasure that makes it harder to accept that this is a disease process. It’s easier to just write addicts off as bad people who just want to feel good. In fact, that’s a corollary of the choice argument. It says exactly that, “Addicts don’t shoot gasoline into their veins, they shoot drugs into their veins! And, why? Because it feels good. Addicts do it because it feels good!”
In fact, there’s a sentence in the AA big book that says basically the same thing, “Men and women drink essentially because they like the effect produced by alcohol.” And that’s exactly right. What addiction is, is a defect in the brain’s like mechanism. Pleasure is the capacity of the brain, and being a natural organ, the brain can break. And, addiction is, at it’s heart, a broken pleasure sense.