Episode 153: "Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong"

There was another professor called Peter Cohen in the Netherlands who said, maybe we shouldn’t even call it addiction. Maybe we should call it bonding. Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when we’re happy and healthy, we’ll bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief.
— Johann Hari, 06:04 of his TED Talk on addiction.
And they’ve got both the water bottles, the normal water and the drugged water. But here’s the fascinating thing: In Rat Park, they don’t like the drug water. They almost never use it. None of them ever use it compulsively. None of them ever overdose. You go from almost 100 percent overdose when they’re isolated to zero percent overdose when they have happy and connected lives.
— Johann Hari, 04:40 of his TED Talk on addiction.
It’s now exactly 100 years since drugs were first banned in the United States and Britain, and we then imposed that on the rest of the world. It’s a century since we made this really fateful decision to take addicts and punish them and make them suffer, because we believed that would deter them; it would give them an incentive to stop.
— Johann Hari, 00:25 of his TED Talk on addiction.
Professor Alexander began to think there might be a different story about addiction. He said, what if addiction isn’t about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?
— Johann Hari, 05:53 of his TED Talk on addiction.

In our cultural lexicon, we often casually note that we're "addicted" to the latest TV show, album or trend that enters our lives. But we rarely discuss the grave reality of actual addiction and the burdens it creates. This week, we examine a 2015 TED Talk given by Johann Hari on the subject. In particular, he looks at common misconceptions about how and why addiction takes hold. What are the social factors at play? What can addiction reveal about our deeper human nature? How might communities and governments better prepare and respond to citizens to mitigate addiction?