‘The Globalization of Addiction’ by Bruce Alexander

globalizationofaddiction2‘Global society is drowning in addiction to drug use and a thousand other habits.

This is because people around the world, rich and poor alike, are being torn from the close ties to family, culture, and traditional spirituality that constituted the normal fabric of life in pre-modern times. This kind of global society subjects people to unrelenting pressures towards individualism and competition, dislocating them from social life.

People adapt to this dislocation by concocting the best substitutes that they can for a sustaining social, cultural and spiritual wholeness, and addiction provides this substitute for more and more of us.’

I’ve taken these words from Bruce Alexander’s website and can highly recommend his book, The Globalization of Addiction, which highlights the role of disconnection or dislocation in the development of addiction. This theory makes much more sense than the classical disease model focusing on the role of brain neurotransmitters in addiction.

The Film Exchange on Alcohol & Drugs website has three clips of Bruce describing the classical model of addiction and his dislocation theory which are well worth a watch.

Introduction (1m 56s)

On the official ‘view’ of addiction (10m 53s)

On alternative views of addiction (7m 21s)



  1. Laura Necchi-Ghiri says:

    I think the thesis of this book is brilliant, and I look forward to reading it. For me it links in with what we are learning from the new neuroscience and Attachment Theory – that humans need to develop healthy attachments in order to develop a ‘social’ brain and to thrive. Where babies and children suffer damaged early attachments through trauma such as separation from their primary caregiver, their sense of self (and security / confidence) is left in a very shaky state. Such children, whose parents have not been present or who have not been able to be responsive to their needs, gestures or self-expressions, often do not know who they are, and as adults, how they are seen / viewed / experienced by others. As adults they may cling to their family and neighbourhood or to an abusive relationship and find it very hard to leave because of a profound sense of separation anxiety and insecurity. Often a move into addiction is a way of medicating the underlying pain and anxiety. It is hard to achieve when in this position, and some who do, often ‘overachieve’ and don’t know how to stop and relax. If you are further traumatised by being forced to leave your family, your community, your country for economic or other reasons, it comes as no surprise that this process of dislocation and alenation could lead to further, entrenched addiction.

    I think it is a basic human need that we all have for somewhere we can really be ourselves, are known by other people – our community – and accepted for who we are. I guess this ‘somewhere’ that provides us with a sense of belonging is what we call ‘home’.

Speak Your Mind


+ 9 = 11