Johann Hari argues that the "chemical hooks" model of addiction is all wet. What, for instance, explains why addiction to gambling looks almost exactly like an addiction to heroin? You can't inject gambling into the bloodstream. From studies of rats offered cocaine in either cheerless isolated boxes or happy rat parks, to Portugal's experimentation with decriminalizing drugs and pouring resources into restoring human connection and meaning into addicts' lives, Hari concludes that addiction is a feature of alienation and nihilism, not the inescapable danger of the addictive object. What else explains the relative ease with which miserable broken-hip patients and Vietnam conscripts kick the heroin habit as soon as they escape into a more humane environment?
I don't know. I do know that people will latch onto meaning anywhere if they can't find it in appropriate places in their lives, and onto oblivion if they can't find meaning. On a related topic, an MIT professor emeritus of meteorology warns what happens with Jonestown-like cults find their global hotcoldwetdry narrative unraveling. And the unraveling is getting serious. It won't be long, surely, before even cult members will have difficulty reconciling their assumptions about a positive-feedback greenhouse mechanism with the 19th or 20th year in a row of catastrophic global climate normalcy. Mass suicides in store, or only rampant addiction?