Have you ever written something and sent it off, only to encounter a perfect example of what you wanted to say? That happened to... Vaping and prescription opioids: limbic capitalism in action

Have you ever written something and sent it off, only to encounter a perfect example of what you wanted to say? That happened to me.

I had just finished a new book on addiction when the vaping crisis erupted. The gist of the book is that that globalization, industrialization, mass marketing, digitization, and social media have turned the ancient human preoccupation with disreputable, potentially addictive pleasures into lucrative, commercially normal enterprises. Bad habits have been McDonaldized.

Vaping couldn’t have been a more perfect example of this.

I call those who help make bad habits routine “limbic capitalists,” a reference to their products’ neural common denominator. Whether they sell junk food, porn, slots, computer games, alcohol, or drugs, they target the limbic system, the brain networks responsible for pleasure, motivation, long-term memory, and other survival functions linked to emotions.

Biological evolution shaped the limbic system, which is indispensable for life and reproduction. But cultural evolution and technological change created a trapdoor. The same neural pathways can be exploited — lethally — by entrepreneurs of brain-rewarding products that foster excessive consumption and addictive behavior.

I analyzed several categories of mortality data from the World Health Organization and found that, for every premature death from homicide or war-related violence, there were 30 premature deaths from unhealthful practices such as smoking, overeating, or distracted driving. Bad habits may be big business, but they are also big killers. [Read More @ Stat News]

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