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Editor's Note

Beating addiction: impossible or surprisingly common?

By
12:45pm, February 25, 2014

It’s hard to find anyone whose life hasn’t been touched by addiction, in some form or another. Whether it’s my unbridled coffee intake, a friend’s pack-a-day cigarette habit, a cousin’s problem drinking or a brother’s drug abuse, addictions are all around us. By definition, these are the habits that are hard to break. But what pushes them into “addiction” territory is these habits’ ability to harm, destroying bodies (some slowly, some swiftly) and even shattering lives.

Evidence points to two ways to think about addiction: as a chronic, brain-based disease or as a dysfunctional if temporary coping strategy — a bad habit — that a person can overcome in time. In his story "The Addiction Paradox" , Bruce Bower lays out the evidence for the latter. The conflict between the two views, Bower reveals, comes from

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