Chapter 33 Toward an ecological understanding of addiction


This chapter argues that, while social contexts have long been understood to play an important role in addiction and recovery, the mechanisms through which contexts are currently said to influence addictive behavior are invariably cast either as mere cues, ‘secondary reinforcers,’ or as diverse types of incentives and disincentives that induce addictive behavior.

As a result, addiction is cast as either a fundamentally neurological matter with only ancillary and arbitrary links to social context, or as the product of social contextually informed cost-benefit analyses. As is shown, in both cases addiction is ultimately construed as essentially a harmful and recurrent yearning for immediate self-gratification.

But if indeed this is the essence of addiction, then on what grounds shall we argue that addicts are in need, and deserving, of compassion and therapy as opposed to mere disincentives or punishment? This chapter describes one particularly robust way the influence of social context on addiction can be explained without thereby weakening the warrant for therapeutic care.


Darin Weinberg - ORCiD:


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