Is addiction a matter of choice?

Gene Heyman, a lecturer in psychology at Harvard Medical School, seems to think so. His new book Addiction: A Disorder of Choice argues that addiction isn’t the untameable sea that sucks unsuspecting individuals under; instead he proclaims that it’s a matter of personal choice

Addiction can be horrific thing, and you’d hate to say that a junkie almost destroyed by the lure of heroin or the like is simply making a personal choice. But by the same token, if addiction is a disease, how can some former addicts live clean and productive lives?

While his argument is interesting, I’m uncomfortable with the idea of being seduced by it. Surely, as with many things, there is a turning point when an addiction becomes something more than flirting with disaster – maybe at that point it can be assumed to transmute into something more like the ‘disease’ tenant supported by the psychology community for all these years.

I gave up smoking last year, aside from that I think I’ve been pretty lucky as far as addictions go and I have to say that I’ve probably spent an equal amount of time feeling sorry for people with more serious addictive habits, and being frustrated with them. True some people are more susceptible to certain problems than others, whether this is due to a personality flaw, bad genes or bad personal choices could essentially boil down to the same basic problem couldn’t it?