Chapter 9: Addictions Are Not Rational: A Socio-economic Model of Addictive Behavior
INTRODUCTION Intuitively, most of us think of addictive behavior as unwise, excessive, overindulgent, compulsive, something to be regretted, ultimately destructive, and, of course, irrational. Mainstream economists, following Gary Becker’s lead, know better. Addictive behavior, they say, is like all other economic behavior; it is economically rational. There are two main purposes of this chapter. One is to explain why addictive behavior is not rational. The other is to develop a socio-economic model of addictive behavior that is an alternative to economists’ rational addiction theory. The explanation and the model draw on the insights of a variety of behavioral disciplines, especially psychologists, and combine these with economic concepts. It is hoped that these interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives will help us see addiction in a true light and help us connect to our natural intuition and wisdom concerning these matters. The plan of this chapter is as follows. The ﬁrst section reviews the concept of addiction in the theory of rational addiction. The second section explores the essential nature of addiction including why people become addicted and the brain physiology of addiction. The third section explains why addictive behavior is not a form of rational economic behavior. It also argues that economic man needs to be replaced by ‘human man.’ Our socio-economic model of addictive behavior is developed in the fourth section. Some of the implications of the model are explained in the ﬁfth section, and the ﬁnal section provides conclusions. THE CONCEPT OF ADDICTION IN THE THEORY OF RATIONAL ADDICTION The theory...
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