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Addiction of all kinds is a choice

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/3/2018 Category: Health
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 690 times Debate No: 106354
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
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Although addicts of all kinds make that conscious decision to go ahead and do some heroin or drink alcohol or do whatever fuels their addiction, they don't really have a legitimate choice, because addiction is so strong that it cannot be overcome with simple willpower, except for EXTREMELY rare cases. The drug is really strong and it affects the levels of certain chemicals in your brain, such as dopamine and serotonin, which are essentially the chemicals that tell your brain to be happy. The affects those chemicals and causes an imbalance, which after a while means that the drug is the only thing that can bring you happiness. Therefore, you stop doing things like playing music or sports and devote all your time to either finding the money for drugs, doing drugs, or being high. If you asked a person who has been addicted to, say, heroin whether or not they want to get off the drug, their response may differ depending on whether or not they're lying to themselves. If they realize that they won't be okay on the drug (which they won't), then they will say that they prefer to be off the drug. If they're lying to themselves, then they will say that they are going to be fine and they can quit the drug right now, if they wanted to. Here is a source to support my position. Look it over before responding, please.



Sure, I'll give another try.

If we were simpler animals such as mice then perhaps we would have no choice over addiction as I don't really see a mice being able to consider its position, option, or dream of a better life as a human might.

I still say it is a choice, it's less of a choice the less that people know, but it remains a choice no matter how small.
People are able to take those small steps in the direction of therapy and knowledge if they choose to. Or at least I like to believe so.

Maybe I'm missing something and I'm just going with choice because the alternative concept of humans being so weak irritates me.
Debate Round No. 1


Like I said before, it is possible to consciously make the decision to turn yourself for therapy, or hand your addiction over to the robot example that you mentioned in the comment to the debate. Some do in fact, have the strength to do something like that. But according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (NCASA) (, most experts believe that because addicts consciously know turning themselves into a rehab center or doing something similar means that they will have to go through drug withdrawal. According to Mayo Clinic, withdrawal symptoms may include but are not limited to "muscle pain ... excessive hunger, lethargy, loss of appetite, night sweats, restlessness, shakiness, weakness, clammy skin, craving, feeling cold ... sweating ... gagging, nausea, vomiting, flatulence ... stomach cramps ... agitation ... delirium, depression, hallucination, paranoia ... severe anxiety ... insomnia, nightmares, sleepiness ... sleeping difficulty ... disorientation, mental confusion, racing thoughts ... slowness in activity ... boredom, feeling detached from self, loss of interest or pleasure in activities ... nervousness ... congestion or runny nose ... dilated pupil or watery eyes." Mayo Clinic also says that people experiencing drug withdrawal may cry, feel excitable, irritable, and they may even harm themselves. "Seizures, sensitivity to pain, slurred speech, teeth chattering, tingling feet, trembling, or tremor[s] [also common],"
Mayo Clinic says.

That is not a choice. This is why addiction influences perfectly normal to steal, lie, sneak, lose sleep, and even kill in order to get their drug, which their body physically needs.

To top it off, NCASA says that addiction is "a complex disease of the brain and body that involves compulsive [which means there isn't a choice] use of one or more substances despite serious health and social consequences" and that addiction is the result of several choices, but a choice cannot undo the previous choices. Take heart disease for instance. The likelihood of heart disease is increased with choices, like the choice to eat unhealthy food, or live a sedentary lifestyle. However, once someone has heart disease, they cannot make a choice that cures them of the disease. They can go to a hospital, but that might not help. In the same way, addiction is a disease of the brain, according to NCASA. Quoting their website, "While the first use (or early stage use) may be by choice, once the brain has been changed by addiction, most experts believe that the person loses control of their behavior."

NCASA also says that the people who manage to make the decision that pulls them out of addiction do not necessarily have more willpower or self-discipline than current addicts. Therefore, addiction experts actually do not understand why very few people manage to be cured by rehab center and then not relapse, or even cure their addiction through AA meetings or a 12-step program. In fact, according to, the percentage of addicts who go through rehabilitation services and then relapse is at least 40%, and up to a staggering 60%.

Another piece of evidence that shows addiction is not a choice is the fact that addiction can actually be passed down through genetics. You might think I mean that if a pregnant woman is an addict, then her baby is likely to be an addict as well. That is not what I mean. What I mean is if someone were to become an addict, their descendants (children, grandchildren, nephews, nieces, etc) are more likely to become addicts as well, even though the disease is not passed down through the womb. Therefore, there must be a chromosome somewhere in the genetic code of human beings that influences someone to become an addict.

You said that you can understand why a simpler animal, like a mouse, could be addicted and not have the choice to end the addiction. I see your logic, and it does make sense to me. But the trouble of it is, we humans are simpler animals than we might like to believe. Pretty much everything a person does, from volunteering for a charity to drinking alcohol to making love, is in pursuit of the happiness chemical, dopamine. To be honest, the only reason anyone uses the website is for the dopamine release produced both by victory and by feeling like you're right. The only reason people use social media is to satisfy the instinctual desire for a constant feed of information. Do you see? People do drugs for the dopamine and serotonin release, as well as to momentarily relieve all those horrible withdrawal symptoms I listed above.


What it seems to me, is that you're arguing that humans have no choice at all and are just pleasure seeking junkies predetermined to act out as their biological machines see fit.

I agree with your statement that people do not have a choice about the physiological effects of withdrawal, Once the initial choice has been made that is. Just because the effects are to the side or after the fact doesn't change the choice to my eyes.

If I reeeallly like money and the pleasures it brings me and am an indolent person who has developed a remarkably weak willpower regarding the well being of others and I decide to rob a bank because it feels good, are you really saying that I had no choice? Just because I have a weak warped mind or a physical desire of material goods?

Desire, want, some slight compulsion to do something is Not a good enough argument to say they had no choice.

I agree that people who's mental capacity is damaged through extensive long time use are less capable if not incapable of properly exercising their choice, but this I would say is because they have regressed further from what I see a human as.

Simply because genetic factors are passed down does not mean we have no choice, we all inherit the human condition. We are born more or less equal but are what we becoame Because of the choices we make.

Are we arguing about capable adults young adults full of the power of self determination or are we arguing about the mentally handicapped unable to understand or children lacking all the knowledge?
Debate Round No. 2


We are talking about people, very flawed people, who understand the negative effects of taking drugs, but once they've been pressured into trying the drug for the first time, "experts believe that the person loses control of their behavior" ( Money is different from heroin and cocaine because even though owning and spending causes a dopamine release, money cannot physically alter chemical levels in the brain. Money cannot bring the 42 withdrawal symptoms (YES, I COUNTED) that drug addiction does.

You think that I'm saying that humans (you and me) are weak, incapable, simple creatures simply chasing pleasure. To be honest, everything we do is motivated by a desire for the release of dopamine. Even helping others has a dopamine release attached, because it makes us feel like good people and the brain loves to feel like it is a good, kind soul.

However, I am NOT saying in ANY way that humans have no willpower. In fact, the strength of the human spirit is quite remarkable. Take, for instance, the miners who survived for months on end in a cave in Chile. Or the 900,000 (give or take 7% according to people who survived the Holocaust. We humans are strong, and we are strong together. That is the key word: together. When companionship is taken out of the equation, the human spirit is considerably weakened. That is why solitary confinement is so effective and destructive on the minds of prisoners.

Addicts are the metaphorical prisoners of a drug, which is putting them in a metaphorical solitary confinement. The drug alters the brain's chemicals in such a way that nothing else in the world will make a person happy while they are addicted. Therefore, being with other people (which usually is a steady and reliable source of dopamine and happiness) no longer has any value to an addict. Therefore, the addict has no choice but to continue returning over and over to the only thing that makes them happy, even though they realize that in an hour or two they will feel like crap.

A study ( performed by Tristan Darland shows that addiction is not a choice. She gave cocaine to zebrafish, and they liked it so much that they hung around the part of the tank where she gave it to them more than any other part of the tank. But that's an obvious result. Remember the chromosome I mentioned earlier, that predisposes a person to addiction? Well Darland found that chromosome in the zebrafish, and she created a genetically altered zebrafish that did not have this chromosome. The zebrafish without the chromosome were easily able to resist the lure of addiction.

The government's official stance on addiction from the CDC or Centers for Disease Control says the following at

"The initial decision to take drugs is typically voluntary. However, with continued use, a person"s ability to exert self-control can become seriously impaired; this impairment in self-control is the hallmark of addiction. Brain imaging studies of people with addiction show physical changes in areas of the brain that are critical to judgment, decision making, learning and memory, and behavior control.7 Scientists believe that these changes alter the way the brain works and may help explain the compulsive and destructive behaviors of addiction."

That article is from and there is a link to that article from the CDC website. The CDC website page that contains this link is The link that will take you to the article is labelled "Drugs, Brains and Behavior--The Science of Addiction." I invite you to fact check me.

I have all these sources like the National Center on Substance Abuse and Addiction and and the CDC (a government program devoted to preventing diseases like addiction), and yet you still refuse to believe me. I can continue citing sources all day! Almost every expert on the topic agrees that addiction is characterized by "compulsive," or involuntary, drug use.


I maintain that people though animals ourselves cannot be compared to other life forms in terms of choice and willpower.

I maintain that slight compulsion unless it has lobotomized the person cannot take away his human ability of choice.

I maintain that people with enough of a reason to make the choice can endure great hardship even whilst alone and in misery, that happiness and endorphins are not the be all end all of humanity.

The endorphins a hermit may get from the pleasure of his solitary life can hardly measure to the endorphins brought about by worldly pleasure. He Chooses it from a different purpose and calling, exerts his will that he can overcome.

I would like to thank my opponent for this debate and hope that I do not appear to fall into this category of person
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Leaning 3 years ago
Curse you reliable sources and your need to force me to give proof for my assertions! Joking.

Really though I thought you made much better arguments than myself. Why am I not convinced? Is it due to prejudice, lack of proper detachment from my own feelings on the subject? Eh.

As for the friend request I'm going to say no, same as I do for everyone else for now. Just cause I would like to know anyone for a while longer before naming them a friend.

I'll look at your sources later, computer I'm on right now won't let me view them for some reason. I could wait eight hours read them, consider them and then present my argument, but not my style.

Nothing said in comments should affect in any way shape or form the votes made by individuals for this debate.
Posted by Leaning 3 years ago
Would you be argueing that addiction is not a choice? Regardless of twhether or not quitting is?

Example someone cannot bring themself to stop quitting alchol so they lock themself in a room with a robotic server that weans them off the drug over time until it is gone from their system and releases them.

To me that is a choice, maybe I am missing something though.
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