Source: Johann Hari: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong | TED Talk |


Chanced upon this TED talk video on my social media feeds and decided to take some time to watch it. Considering that addiction is not a topic that gets much attention amongst the general population, my interest was definitely piqued when it appeared multiple times in my news feed, with friends from different backgrounds reposting it.


This video may not seem immediately relevant, but it does bring forth the idea of "right problem, wrong solution".

There is a saying,

"If we really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because the answer is not separate from the problem."

Johann hypothesized that the main reason why addiction happens is because of the environment and context. He gave the example of how we don't get addicted to hospital drugs that are in fact high in pure heroin. In a separate example, rats also shown that they chose the non-drugged option when


First thing that alerted me to the fact that something's not right with this story is when it was explained to me. If I step out of this TED Talk today and I get hit by a car and I break my hip, I'll be taken to hospital and I'll be given loads of diamorphine. Diamorphine is heroin. It's actually much better heroin than you're going to buy on the streets, because the stuff you buy from a drug dealer is contaminated. Actually, very little of it is heroin, whereas the stuff you get from the doctor is medically pure. And you'll be given it for quite a long period of time. There are loads of people in this room, you may not realize it, you've taken quite a lot of heroin. And anyone who is watching this anywhere in the world, this is happening. And if what we believe about addiction is right -- those people are exposed to all those chemical hooks -- What should happen? They should become addicts. This has been studied really carefully. It doesn't happen; you will have noticed if your grandmother had a hip replacement, she didn't come out as a junkie.

Extracted from the transcript: Johann Hari: Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong | TED Talk Subtitles and Transcript | 

What if addiction isn't about your chemical hooks? What if addiction is about your cage? What if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?


Reflection points:1. Are we tackling the root of the problem with our services and solutions?

2. If not, why? Is it because we do not take the effort to dive deep into understanding the problem fully? Is it because it's much easier to superficially address the symptoms or consequences of the problems?

3. We do have many preventive programmes that hopes to stem problems from happening, but are these programmes targeting the right people? Is it acheiving the right objectives and fulfilling the right outcomes?

4. How do we improve connections for our family, friends and the neglected in the society, and give REAL second chances to these people around us?


What do you think?