On addictions

I'm exploring a lifestyle free of addictive substances.

Addiction happens when something evolutionary good but scarce becomes too readily available. Addictions are brain hacks when we game the mind to get pleasure without effort.


  • Sugar. Sweet things in nature evolutionally were good because they were calorie-rich fast carbs that were very good for undernourished humans. When they were sparse, looking for sweet good things was a good behavioral shortcut. When we decided to isolate sugar industrially, the good thing turned bad.
  • Alcohol. In low dosage, seldom, it's good for relaxation. When you can produce it industrially, you can easily create alcoholism.
  • Porn. Sex is not as readily available as porn. Usually, it takes effort to find a good-looking mate. People also require some foreplay and emotional connection to transition to sex. Porn is widely available, doesn't require you to "work for it" and it confuses our biological intuition.
  • Social media. Everyday life is rather monotonous. When something cool happens, it immediately attracts attention. However, when you create market-driven competition between non-boring stuff, we, as a society, start producing too much "very interesting" content that takes over our brains.
  • Drugs. Release dopamine. Usually, you need to make an effort to release it. instead, you can take one MDMA pill and release ALL of your dopamine.

Can other types of pleasure be hacked? What if you could program your body to build muscles without workouts? Would it also become an addiction?

Some of the good stuff is not addictive — for example, driving and skiing. Naturally, we don't have access to fast transportation and ski sloped. However, it doesn't make it too addictive.