Scientific evidence suggests that we should. Apparently, illegal drugs only crudely imitate the more natural "highs" that most of us get from wholesome habits -- using internal chemistry to reinforce love of family, music, skill, beauty or country.
Is this why so many find it easy to "just say no" to drugs? Because we already know how to press the same buttons... inside our minds?
What follows is an open letter to scientists who could answer such questions. Especially the following:
Might some addictive mental states be doing as much harm to society as all the heroin, cocaine and crack on our streets, combined?
I want to zoom down to a particular emotional and psychological pathology. The phenomenon known as self-righteous indignation.
We all know self-righteous people. (And, if we are honest, many of us will admit having wallowed in this state ourselves, either occasionally or in frequent rhythm.) It is a familiar and rather normal human condition, supported -- even promulgated -- by messages in mass media.
While there are many drawbacks, self-righteousness can also be heady, seductive, and even... well... addictive. Any truly honest person will admit that the state feels good. The pleasure of knowing, with subjective certainty, that you are right and your opponents are deeply, despicably wrong.
Sanctimony, or a sense of righteous outrage, can feel so intense and delicious that many people actively seek to return to it, again and again. Moreover, as Westin et.al. have found, this trait crosses all boundaries of ideology.
Indeed, one could look at our present-day political landscape and argue that a relentless addiction to indignation may be one of the chief drivers of obstinate dogmatism and an inability to negotiate pragmatic solutions to a myriad modern problems. It may be the ultimate propellant behind the current "culture war."
If there is any underlying truth to such an assertion, then acquiring a deeper understanding of this one issue may help our civilization deal with countless others.
[full text here; An Open Letter to Researchers of Addiction, Brain Chemistry and Social Psychology from David Brin, Ph.D.]