The phenomenon of craving is widely taken to be an important, if not central feature of addiction. Craving is commonly appealed to in order to explain how addiction jeopardizes self-control, intentions, resolutions, and choice. Although there has been notable discussion about the powerful effects of craving in the lives of people experiencing addiction, craving per se has received limited attention. The received view of craving is a neurobiological account which defines cravings as intense urges that result from the pathological effects of drugs on the dopamine system. This account has more or less been taken without debate to capture the phenomenology of addictive craving; in other words, to capture what is going on in the moment when an individual in active addiction or in recovery from addiction feels unable to resist the intense desire to engage in their addiction. In this article, I argue that the received view of craving is inadequate; it misidentifies the content of addictive craving. I propose an alternative explanation of craving. Addictive cravings are psychologically complex desires that aim at emotionally significant experiences that are highly valued in the context of addiction. This alternative account of craving helps to explain why cravings are so intense and often extremely difficult to resist.


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pp. 227-238
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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