Addiction is where the money is

Friday, January 24th, 2014

The problem with legalizing any vice — alcohol, nicotine, gambling, whatever — is that addiction is where the money is:

Twenty per cent of the Americans who drink account for almost ninety per cent of all alcohol consumption. It cannot be news to beer and liquor companies that their key demographic is the problem drinker.

According to surveys, people who use marijuana “more than weekly” account for roughly ninety per cent of cannabis consumption.


  1. ASDF says:


  2. Toddy Cat says:

    So what? Do we really think that those 20% of drinkers wouldn’t be drinking if booze was illegal? Illegality doesn’t seem to be stopping the potheads, after all.

  3. William Newman says:

    What Toddy Cat said. Perhaps you mean “a problem for most paternalistic policies, even extending to the borderline paternalistic policy of allowing people to do what they want but then feeling really bad about yourself when they don’t do what you want, is that a lot of the really alarming behavior is concentrated in a small fraction of people who are particularly highly motivated to behave that way.”

  4. Spandrell says:

    Well, you either enforce the law, which liberals won’t, or let the addicts self-destruct and have evolution do its work. That’s the theory behind the low levels of alcoholism in south Europe, right?

  5. Toddy Cat says:

    There’s no escaping Pareto power laws — pretty much 80% of anything is accounted for by about 20% of those doing it, whether it’s kills by fighter pilots, sales by salesmen, crimes by criminals, or alcohol consumptions by drinkers. I’m not saying that drugs and alcohol are not difficult problems, I just don’t see why these figures should be either surprising or shocking, and I don’t really see what bearing this has on legalization, one way or the other. I’d also point out that what some people might call “letting the addicts self destruct”, others might call “a free society”. Either people are responsible for their actions, or they are not. If they are not, we in the West are way off base in our political theories, and have been for hundreds of years, and bandying words like “addiction” around doesn’t really solve the problem.

Leave a Reply