I just listened to a Radiolab episode focusing on people’s attempts to control their future selves—to prevent themselves from doing something that they don’t want to do.
Here’s a video that, focusing on procrastination, illuminates the concept of your present self trying to control your future self. (It’s from a book called, You Are Not So Smart, not from Radiolab.)
The Radiolab episode had two segments that are relevant to addiction.
First, one on a reportedly common and troubling alcoholism treatment in Russia.
Next, a smoker who managed to quit by swearing that, if she relapsed, she would make a donation to the KKK.
Now, it’s easy for people to reduce addiction to an anecdote like this. There’s a lot more to quitting and staying quit than simply constructing the right motivational traps, but it does illustrate the role that structural factors can play in maintaining recovery.