Addiction is a form of learning

Discussion created by Giulia Champion on Dec 19, 2017
Latest reply on Dec 20, 2017 by Deb-EX

Found the following really interesting.  


Addiction is a form of learning,” (emphasis mine) he explained.  “Imagine by analogy that we have a dog and we want to train him to come when called. We call and when he comes we give him a 10 oz steak we had behind our back. He eats it and then it’s gone for 12 hours. That’s similar to heroin. [Heroin] is a very large reward but even a stone junky is unlikely to shoot up more than 3 times a day. So it’s very intermittent.”

He contrasts this to the cigarette smoker who smokes a pack a day. At 20 cigarettes per pack and 10 puffs per cigarette, that’s like cutting the steak into 200 pieces so that you have 200 small rewards rather than one big one. Now when the dog comes when called he gets a tiny morsel of steak but then you practice repeatedly for reliable rewards.

The result? Says Linden, “Well by the end of the day the dog will have learned to come when called.” Similarly with cigarettes he states, “we have extremely reliable small rewards over and over that are associated with the act of puffing the cigarette and so we are extraordinarily good trainers of our inner dog.”    (Source:  Dog Training Tip: Why Cigarettes are More Addicting than Heroin and How It Applies to Dog Training – Dr. Sophia Yin )


Thus if addiction is a form of learning, freedom from that addiction must be a form of unlearning.  We have to unlearn the behavior associated with smoking and replace it with a new norm.  We have to relearn life as it was before the treats.  As addiction is a form of learning, quitting too is a form of learning.  It just takes a little longer. 


Don't give up!