What causes something to be addictive? Can only substances be addictive, or can activities become addictive as well? Does addiction as we understand it now even exist?
Is addiction really a "disease" as many like Alcoholics Anonymous would have you believe or is it, in fact, a choice we are all capable of making on our own?
If addiction exists, what can be done to prevent or treat it?
I think this is tough set of questions to answer.
Addiction is what we generally think of when a person compulsive engages in a behavior we would consider potentially destructive to their life. But my post is probing a little further into the nature of the human will. It's more of a question of how much choice we really have in any kind of circumstance.
I'd say a person freely enters into potentially addictive behavior when they do something like take drugs or start drinking in the first place. In that regard, anything they do wrong afterwards probably still makes them guilty.
For instance, say a gentleman had been using drugs for decades and it's messed with his brain to the point he's become delusional and murders another person (was just reading about a court case like this). Could and should we hold him accountable? He did start taking drugs in the first place, and probably had numerous opportunities to seek help, so maybe we should.
I don't think it's easy for people to quit doing certain things once they've gotten in the habit of it. At the same time, I don't buy that we should let them off the hook when they've done something reprehensible just because they've lost "control." If people were doing something ultra-hazardous like manufacturing dynamite, we'd expect them to take extra precautions to ensure the safety of everyone and if something went wrong, we'd expect them to pay since they assumed the risk in the first place. That same principle should apply here. We ought to expect a little foresight and reason out of people.