Addicts give many reasons for their drug use – an addict might employ any number of justifications, excuses, and pleas (Franklin, 2013). These reasons seem to put the responsibility on events or other people.However, some people argue that no one really makes the addict take the drugs – no one puts a gun to their head. In terms of choosing to do drugs, the addict takes action. This is related to the idea of agency. Agency is the ability of an agent to act; action must be initiated by the agent.
An agent cannot instigate an action without exercising the power to do so (“Personal Autonomy”). In other words, the addict is the agent, and the addict cannot do drugs without initiating the act of doing drugs, in which case the addict has the power to make the decision to do drugs. This relates to autonomy; autonomy refers to self-governing (“Personal Autonomy”). In other words, the autonomous agent governs itself. In the case of an addict, the addict governs him/herself, making decisions about how to respond to drugs.
Determinism, or causal determinism, basically states that every action requires some cause or antecedent event (Honderich, 1995). When an addict says a certain trauma made them an addict, the trauma would be the cause that precipitated their addiction – but a cause is not the same thing as an action. Other people suffer similar traumas and don’t become addicts. To say that the trauma is a definite cause of addiction is false. It becomes a kind of reductionism, which is related to causality. The addict attempts to simplify their addiction and does not take into account the many complex aspects at work in addiction. It implies the addict has no choice – or freedom – in the matter, which, as evidenced by autonomy and agency, is not true.
Functionally, an addict has the freedom to choose to do drugs or NOT to do drugs. The addict may argue that is not true – that one they begin to do drugs, freedom disappears. Their body needs the drugs. In this material world, material needs must be met, since all is physical, and all is real (Honderich, 1995).