‘You Can Change’

In his new book, Addiction: A Disorder of Choice, Gene Heyman points to research that shows addiction is not a disease but a personal choice – addicts choose to abuse substances and they can choose to quit, he says. He’s studied the subject for more than 10 years and currently teaches classes on addiction at Harvard. Much of Heyman’s research focuses on studies that show 70 to 85 per cent of people who once met the criteria for substance abuse no longer do by the time they reach age 30, on average. “People have the capacity to choose to stop taking drugs – that’s what we have learned,” Heyman said from his office at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. “Will that influence people and bring addiction to an end more quickly or perhaps prevent it from happening in the first place? I don’t know the answer to that question, but it certainly seems like that is a possibility.”