Brain and Body

Almost Everything We Know About Addiction is Wrong – Here’s Why

March 18, 2016 | Johannes Van Zijl

Injecting heroin
Photo credit: WBEZ/flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

What causes say a heroin addiction? Heroin, right? Wrong.

In a video by Youtube user Kurzgesagt- In a Nutshell, he argues that our approach to addiction in society is all wrong. Although drug addiction contains a physical element, the real addiction is caused by the subject’s own mental state, alongside the environmental state the subject is placed in. It’s not the chemicals that cause addiction, it’s the subject’s cage that eventually leads to addiction.

Why is it when your grandmother goes into the hospital for hip replacement and is given morphine for prolonged periods of time to help with pain relief, she doesn’t become addicted to it? Morphine is a much stronger and purer form of heroin, yet your grandmother gets discharged from the hospital without having a craving or a fix of morphine. There are many people in hospitals right now being given morphine, at least some of them should become addicted right?  In fact this has been closely studied, and they rarely do.

SEE ALSO: Experts Ranked the Top 5 Most Addictive Substances on Earth

Kurzgesagt goes on to explain how American soldiers relied on heroin to get through the terrible horrors of the Vietnam War but were able to return home to their loving families, without going through any rehabilitation.

The conclusions on why these examples do not lead to addiction is nicely illustrated in the video here: 


The video by Kurzgesagt was influenced by a Ted talk from Johann Hari, who had spent three years researching the effects of drug addictions. Johann Hari’s published his findings in the book, Chasing the Scream.

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