Consider Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood producer at the centre of a storm of sexual assault allegations this week.No sooner had the news broke than he was claiming to be addicted to sex and checking in to an exclusive clinic.For me, this emphasises that we are social animals.I worry that as the traditional family unit has broken down and families live further apart, more and more people are living isolated lives, particularly the elderly. Why should it be down to doctors or social workers to find ways of tackling such loneliness? In desperation, I referred her to a befriending service run by a charity.Rather than being a switch that is flicked on in their brains and that they can’t shut off again, it’s that they’re using sex or alcohol, or whatever it is, as a crutch.So calling addiction a disease is not only unhelpful, but actively counter-productive.It first started being widely promoted within the medical community in the late Nineties in the U. Some have argued that this was so health insurance companies couldn’t wriggle out of funding treatment for alcoholics. It was argued that although the use of substances was voluntary to start with, in some individuals it ‘flicked a switch’ in the brain that meant they could no longer stop.But a recent review published in the highly respected medical journal The Lancet Psychiatry concluded the research into addiction does not support this simplified view.
The process of recovering from addiction involves taking responsibility and realising that you are the architect of your own — and often others’ — misery.
There’s been growing understanding around mental illness in the past few years.
These days you can’t open a newspaper or switch on the TV without hearing someone talk about it — even the Royal Family are doing it.
I have spent many years working in the NHS, the charitable sector and privately with people who use drugs and alcohol.
What always strikes me is how, regardless of wealth or privilege, addiction typically comes down to poor coping strategies for emotional pain and psychological distress.