My grandpa was an alcoholic. His father was an alcoholic. My father is an alcoholic. Notice a pattern here? Several chapters covered in class mentioned various issues involved with addiction. We learned how addiction can be treated through the use of Pavlovian conditioning, where the addict is exposed to the conditioned stimulus but is not able to feel the rewards of the conditioned response. We've learned that genetics play an influential role in keeping the cycle of addiction alive.
We can't learn from a textbook, however, how difficult it can be to break this cycle. I am sure that my father had no intention of being an alcoholic when he was growing up. I'm sure my grandpa didn't intend to die as a result of years of excessive damage to his liver. The break in the cycle of addiction is something we cannot simply learn from reading a text book, but is an effort that one must be conscious of making on a daily basis. For example, despite attending the University of Minnesota-- a school known for its wild frat parties-- I do not drink. Not that I ever have, though. I had to make the decision to stop drinking, as simply fun and harmless as it seems, because I know that one does not simply intend to become addicted to substances-- it creeps up from under us and grabs hold.
In all aspects of our lives, we must make conscious decisions of how choices can affect us in the future-- from what cereal to eat in the morning to deciding to pick up that bottle or needle. Those of us who are predisposed to the disease of addiction need to be especially careful when deciding what is needed in order to have a 'good time.'