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Old 03-19-2003, 02:56 PM
KConnor56 KConnor56 is offline
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Join Date: May 2002
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Default Addiction


Is "hamburger addiction" like "heroin addiction?" Will fast-food
chains become the next tobacco industry, forced to charge patrons
extra to eat burgers, as smokers now pay premium prices to buy

It is true that people can "crave" pizza as they might a
cigarette, that they feel weak and shaky when calories (or
heroin) "wear off" and that they sometimes consume fries (or
cocaine) compulsively. But these facile comparisons tell us
little about the nature of overeating, says psychiatrist Sally
Satel. Instead, they show how the term "addiction" can be
stretched until it becomes meaningless.

Virtually every pleasure we encounter -- listening to beautiful
music, sex, even exercise -- is associated with surges of
dopamine similar to those during a high-fat meal. But we call
these pleasures, not addictions.

o Scientists cannot look at dopamine levels or brain scans
and tell the difference.

o When cocaine addicts, for example, are shown drug
paraphernalia (a crack pipe or lines of white powder on a
mirror), they experience craving, and their pleasure
centers (unsurprisingly) light up on positron emission
tomography (PET) scans, which capture images of brain

o Those images, however, tell us little about whether the
brain's owner is compelled to act on his desire.

The word "addiction" is perilously close to losing any meaning.
If lawyers can turn fast food into an addiction and pin liability
on restaurants, it won't be long before adulterers sue Sports
Illustrated, claiming its swimsuit issue led them astray.

Source: Sally Satel, "Fast food 'addiction' feeds only lawyers,"
USA Today, March 12, 2003.

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