Good article in New York Magazine by Jesse Singal: The Tragic, Pseudoscientific Practice of Forcing Addicts to â€˜Hit Rock Bottomâ€™
He’s talking about Maia Szalavitz’s new book: Unbroken Brain: A Revolutionary New Way of Understanding Addiction
Or, as Szalavitz put it to the Daily Beast: â€œIf you donâ€™t learn that a drug helps you cope or make you feel good, you wouldnâ€™t know what to crave. People fall in love with a substance or an activity, like gambling. Falling in love doesnâ€™t harm your brain, but it does produce a unique type of learning that causes craving, alters choices and is really hard to forget.â€
This can help explain many little-known facts about drug addiction: for example, that the vast majority of people who try even drugs like heroin will not become addicted to them; or that early-life trauma hugely increases the odds of becoming addicted to a substance. To take an oversimplified hypothetical: If someone first offers you alcohol at a time when youâ€™re dealing with serious family issues, unresolved trauma, and other addiction risk factors, youâ€™re more likely to develop an unhealthy relationship with the substance than if your first sip comes at a time when stuff is going okay for you. Many, many factors intermingle in complicated ways to determine whether a given individual will develop an addiction. […]
But throughout her book, Szalavitz argues, and argues compellingly, that when it comes to â€œhitting bottomâ€ and so many of the other pseudoscientific approaches to fighting addiction, the actual goal â€” or part of it, at least â€” has always been to marginalize the addict, to set them apart and humiliate them. Thereâ€™s a deep impulse to draw a clear, bold line between us, the healthy people, and them, the addicts. What clearer way to emphasize that divide than to cast them down into a rock-bottom pit, away from the rest of us?