Saturday, October 19, 2013

Trivializing Addiction

Catchy as a headline is supposed to be. It grabs you, makes you want to read it.

Oreos as addictive as cocaine
It's an article about some good, informative science about the brain, how we get hooked on things- like sugar- or cocaine. Yes, our brains ARE wired to like- even crave- sugar. Yes, the results include things like diabetes and obesity, heart problems and even cancer.

Sadly, though, my reaction is that the way the article is presented, the way the information is packaged, does a great disservice to those who are fighting addictions to sugar or cocaine or alcohol. There's this cutesy, trivializing about addiction. You get this silly image of a guy sitting in his dark room slowly twisting apart the cookie, licking the creamy filling while furtively making sure nobody is watching him.

Or the guy at a meeting, Hi. I'm Joe, and I'm a cookie-a-holic.

Cookie monster would have a new home.

That is not the reality of addiction. That is not what the science is all about. It is a major affirmation of what addicts of all kinds- including food addicts- have said. They are hooked. It's not as easy as putting the Oreos in some locked drawer. It's about the power of the brain and the neurochemicals that control everything we think, feel, and do. This science is much more powerful than craving cookies. It's about why some people do what they do.

It also can give us some important information about dealing with these different forms addictions may take. It is another step in the ongoing research that is opening up many avenues of awareness and hope.

It's good science. It's even better information that may help get rid of the stigmatizing of addiction. But don't trivialize it, minimize it. Read the science and you will see how powerful the engines of addiction can be.

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