Is Addiction Just a Matter of Choice?

In fact, some studies suggest most addicts who recover do so without professional help.

For example, during the Vietnam War, thousands of soldiers became addicted to heroin.

The government tracked hundreds of soldiers for three years after they returned home. They found 88 percent of those addicted to narcotics in Vietnam no longer were.

Quitting Is the Rule, Not the Exception

Even tobacco companies now admit nicotine is addictive, but does that mean it really denies smokers' freedom?

You seldom hear about those people who just quit … on their own. No one's saying it's easy to quit. But it may surprise you that quitting is not the exception, it's the rule. Most people who've used heroin or cocaine have quit. Since 60 percent of smokers have quit — that's 50 million Americans — it seems obvious that people do have free will.

But the drug research establishment insists most addicts are enslaved, that they don't have free will.

Dewey says just because 50 million people have quit smoking doesn't mean that an addiction to smoking isn't a disease.

Yes, it does, says Schaler. Schaler also says the use of the word "disease" is important, particularly in terms of the money "addicts" are spending to get help. "If you say it's a choice not a disease, well then insurance companies may not reimburse for that. … If you say it's a choice, then the tobacco companies may not be slammed for millions of dollars."

Treatment Trap?

Some experts say the treatment industry is taking advantage of people in desperate situations.

"We're selling nicotine patches, we're selling the Betty Ford Center. We tell people, 'You can never get over an addiction on your own. You have to come to us and buy something to get over an addiction.' It's not true, and it's dangerous to tell them that," says Peele.

Former addict Frey agrees. His parents did pay for him to go to the expensive Hazeldon Treatment Center, but Frey says he didn't buy into the messages the center offered in counseling and therapy.

"I stopped because I have my own 12-step program and the first 11 steps don't mean [expletive] and the 12th is don't do it. And I didn't do it."

Frey and other former addicts say choosing is what it takes, making that decision.

"You can't tell people, 'This is all you're fault and there's nothing you can do about it,' " says Frey. "You have to tell them, 'This is all your fault and you can make it all better if you want to.' "

Frey says he still gets drunk. Now he just does it differently. "I get drunk on walking my dogs, I get drunk on, you know, kissing my wife. I get drunk on a good book. Getting drunk is just doing something that feels good."

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