Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.

As featured on
John Stossel's "Help Me, I Can't Help Myself," April 21, 2003, 8:00 P.M. EST, ABC News Television

Addiction is a Choice is one of 5 books given an annotated listing in the bibliography (vol.4, p. 1740) of Magill's Encyclopedia of Social Science: Psychology (2003):
"Solid presentation of compulsive behavior as related to substance abuse and addiction.
Considers the psychological aspects of choice among substance abusers."
--R. Baird Shuman (U. Illinois).

Available December 1999 . . .

Addiction Is a Choice
by Jeffrey A. Schaler, Ph.D.

Open Court Publishers
Chicago and LaSalle, Illinois
Book date: 2000
ISBN 0-8126-9404-X (Paper)
0-8126-9403-1 (Cloth)
Distributed by Publishers Group West (1-800-815-2280 toll free)

You can purchase Addiction Is a Choice at Laissez Faire Books by clicking here.

Click here to send a letter to Jeffrey A. Schaler

Click here to read an unbiased review by my 10-month-old Granddaughter Samara!

Addiction Is a Choice is the Freedom Book of the Month

"To argue that an individual has control over whether he/she takes drugs, as Schaler demonstrates, is viewed by many as heretical. And, if it were to become conventional wisdom, this new perspective would have significant consequences for drug policy in the United States. . . . Schaler emphasizes studies which indicate the rhetorical phenomenon of 'self-fulfilling prophecy' contributes to the perception of 'loss-of-control' . . . Schaler views 'addiction treatments' as rhetoric masquerading as medicine. . . . the book relies on empirical evidence and consistent logic to place responsibility for excessive drug-taking where it is usually absent in public discourse: on the individual drug-user."
--Journal of Health Communication (2003)

" . . . Jeff Schaler . . . a libertarian . . . pushes . . . too far . . . "
--Stanton Peele, Ph.D., JD

". . . Jeff Schaler has managed in one short book . . . to piss off most of the addiction universe--and to turn on their head many of the most cherished concepts that addiction experts have believed and promulgated for eons. This is a remarkable accomplishment."
--Arnold S. Trebach, Ph.D., J.D., Professor Emeritus, Department of Justice, Law and Society, School of Public Affairs, American University; Founder of the Drug Policy Foundation

"I think he has set up a straw man. Addiction researchers and therapists do not use such absolute terms. . . . The issue is whether our behaviour is determined by our chemical memories and the stimuli we meet; whether the experience we have of making choices is an illusion. . . . He credits the 'disease concept' proponents with little intelligence! . . . As part of his attack on 'the sanctity of the Therapeutic State and the economic interests of the growing treatment industry', Dr Schaler exposes 'The Project MATCH cover-up' . . . I share Dr Schaler's concern that commercial clinics can abuse the disease concept, persuading employers or families to coerce the 'sick person' into treatment which she does not wish and perhaps do not even need. Like him, I shudder at the way 'denial' is used as a defining symptom of illness by some clinics. If I deny that I have diabetes, does that mean I am likely to have diabetes? . . . Dr Schaler is right to warn of the danger that people might use the disease concept to absolve themselves from responsibility. . . . We need to be reminded of harmful consequences of too ready use of the disease concept - and Dr Schaler's book helps to keep a balance."
--Jonathan Chick, M.D.

"I think he should listen closely when AA members tell him that 'people who don't know better will be led astray' by his ideas with catastrophic results. . . . I advise you to read this book."
--Jack R. Anderson, M.D.

Kirkus Reviews

"Drugs of Choice." REASON Magazine, October 2000

Review by Professor Richard E. Vatz in Journal of Health Communication, Volume 8, pp. 295-296, 2003 2003

"Hooked on Addiction." Liberty, September 2000

Salon Magazine Interview

The Chronicle of Higher Education Interview

Bill Maher discusses Addiction Is a Choice on ABC's "Politically Incorrect," March 13, 2000

"Choosing a new line on addiction." New Therapist (South Africa), July/August 2000

BY GEORGE! by Georgina Safe The Australian (Australia), January 29, 2000

Read links to more reviews here

From the book cover:

"Politicians and the media tell us that people who take 
drugs, including alcohol or nicotine, cannot help 
themselves.  They are supposedly victims of the disease of 
'addiction', and they need 'treatment'.  The same goes for 
sex addicts, shopping addicts, food addicts, gambling 
addicts, or even addicts to abusive relationships. 

     This theory, which grew out of the Temperance movement 
and was developed and disseminated by the religious cult 
known as Alcoholics Anonymous, has not been confirmed by 
any factual research.  Numerous scientific studies show 
that 'addicts' are in control of their behavior. 

     Contrary to the shrill, mindless propaganda of the 
'war on drugs', very few of the people who use alcohol, 
marijuana, heroin, or cocaine will ever become 'addicted', 
and of those who do become heavy drug users, most will 
mature out of it in time, without treatment.  Research 
indicates that 'treatment' is completely ineffective, an 
absolute waste of time and money. 

     Instead of looking at drug addiction as a disease, Dr. 
Schaler proposes that we view it as willful commitment or 
dedication, akin to joining a religion or pursuing a 
romantic involvement.  While heavy consumption of drugs is 
often foolish and self-destructive, it is a matter of 
personal choice."

"Herein, Dr. Schaler drives a stake into the heart of the 
'disease' concept of addictions.  Millions of people have 
stopped smoking, abusing mind-altering drugs, and drinking 
addictively on their own, without the intervention of 
counselors or doctors or programs.  Dr. Schaler explains 
persuasively why and how this happens, despite all the 
genetic and hormonal predispositions."  

     --JOSEPH GERSTEIN, M.D., F.A.C.P., Harvard Medical School;
       Past President of SMART Recovery 

"This is indeed a rare book.  Schaler has produced a 
unique, masterly work which explains addiction from a 
revelatory perspective.  The reader can learn how the 
controversial area of addiction can be looked at and 
understood in a new light." 

     --MORRIS CHAFETZ, M.D., Founding Director, 
       National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; 
       President, Health Education Foundation, Wash., D.C.

"Dr. Schaler has a hard-hitting, no-nonsense style which 
for me made Addiction Is a Choice a clear and fascinating 
read.  The wealth of information and fresh insights reflect 
the writer's career as scholar-teacher-therapist, and 
especially his many years of research and practical work in 
the addiction field.  The book dispels many myths about 
addiction and should provide liberating insights to the 
afflicted.  It deserves to have a major impact on the way 
we think and act in our dealings with addictions." 

     --HERBERT FINGARETTE, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of 
       Philosophy, University of California, Santa Barbara;  
       Author of "Heavy Drinking:  The Myth of Alcoholism as a 

"Addiction Is a Choice" is a powerful antidote against the 
twin poisons of anti-drug propaganda and drug prohibition." 

     --THOMAS SZASZ, M.D., Professor of Psychiatry Emeritus, 
       State University of New York Health Science Center, 
       Syracuse;  Author of "Ceremonial Chemistry" and 
       "Our Right to Drugs" 

From the book jacket:

     'Addiction' is a fine old English word meaning 
commitment, dedication, devotion, inclination, bent, or 
     "Particular addictions may be good or bad.  Some folk 
are addicted to music, others to books, others to walks in 
the country.  Some are addicted to a religious doctrine or 
community, be it the Roman Catholic, the Mormon, or the Zen 
Buddhist.  Others are addicted to a political philosophy, 
like liberalism, socialism, or anarchism, or to a 'cause', 
like animal rights or free trade.  

     "Some people are addicted to another person:  perhaps 
their spouse, perhaps their latest flame.  Others are 
addicted to a habit, like getting up early every morning.  
Michelangelo was addicted to painting and sculpting, 
Einstein was addicted to physics, Proust was addicted to 
writing, Gandhi was addicted to independence for India.  
Many others, of course, have been equally addicted to these 
pursuits, but have lacked exceptional talent. 
     "Sometimes addictions fade gradually.  The ardent 
lover becomes the jaded husband, or the heavy drinker of 
alcohol gradually moderates.  Other times, one addiction is 
suddenly replaced by another:  the ardent lover of x 
becomes the ardent lover of y, or the heavy drinker becomes 
instead a born-again Christian.  Malcolm X relates how 
converts to the Nation of Islam quickly abandoned any of 
their former drug-taking habits. 
     "An addiction is not exactly the same as habit, though 
one can be addicted to a habit.  John Stuart Mill refers to 
'A man who causes grief to his family by addiction to bad 
habits.'  Addiction is a fondness for, or orientation 
toward, some thing or activity, because it has meaning, 
because it is considered valuable or even sacred.  In some 
cases, people may be addicted to something because they 
find it enjoyable, and this, of course, also reflects their 
values:  such a person believes that the right way to live 
is to seek enjoyment. 
     "Human life is always involved with addictions, and 
would be wretched and worthless, perhaps even impossible, 
without addictions.  Addico, ergo sum.  Yet human life can 
be devastated or horribly blighted by ill-chosen 
addictions.  A simple example would be that of an 
adolescent drawn into an apparently warm and benevolent 
religious group, which only gradually comes forth in its 
true colors as a destructive cult of collective suicide.  
Another example might be a young person in the 1930s, 
becoming a Communist or a National Socialist.  

     "Addictions are indispensable.  Addictions--and only 
addictions--can open us up to all that makes life rich and 
fulfilling.  Yet addictions can also have appalling 
consequences.  The conclusion is clear:  choose your 
addictions very carefully!  Nothing is more vital for a 
young person than to select the right addictions.  
Addictions we approve of are called 'virtues'.  Addictions 
we disapprove of are called 'vices'. 
     "In recent years, the word 'addiction' has come to be 
used with quite a different meaning.  It is now taken to 
refer to any activity which individuals engage in, 
deliberately and consciously, and are physically unable to 
stop themselves pursuing.  Thus (it is claimed) the heroin 
addict cannot refrain from injecting himself with heroin, 
the alcohol addict or 'alcoholic' cannot refrain from 
swallowing alcoholic beverages, Bill Clinton cannot refrain 
from having sexual relations with his subordinates, the 
overspending housewife cannot refrain from buying 
'unnecessary' things in stores, and the compulsive gambler 
cannot stop gambling. 
     "In this newfangled sense of 'addiction', I maintain 
that 'addiction' is a myth.  I deny that there is any such 
thing as 'addiction', in the sense of a deliberate and 
conscious course of action which the person literally cannot 
stop doing.  According to my view of the world, the heroin 
addict can stop injecting himself with heroin, the alcohol 
addict can stop himself from swallowing whisky, and so 
forth.  People are responsible for their deliberate and 
conscious behavior. . . .   
 --From the Introduction"

1.   Two Ways of Looking at Addiction  
2.   Is Addiction Really a Disease?  
3.   Do Drug Addicts Lose It?  
4.   How Beliefs Affect Reality  
5.   Where Did the Disease Model Come From?  
6.   Smoking Right and Responsibility  
7.   Who Are the Addiction Treatment Providers?  
8.   Busting the Disease-Model Cult  
9.   The Project MATCH Cover-up  
10.  Moderation Management and Murder  
11.  Thinking Differently about Addiction  
12.  Addiction Treatment and the First Amendment  
13.  What to Do about Addiction  

Distributed by Publishers Group West

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