We live in an age of addiction, from compulsive gaming and shopping to binge eating and opioid abuse. Sugar can be as habit-forming as cocaine, researchers tell us, and social media apps are hooking our kids. In his new book, “The Age of Addiction: How Bad Habits Became Big Business” (Harvard University’s Belknap Press, 2019), David Courtwright, presidential professor emeritus at the University of North Florida and a leading expert on addiction, chronicles the triumph of what he calls “limbic capitalism,” the growing network of competitive businesses targeting the brain pathways responsible for feeling, motivation and long-term memory. These businesses capitalize on the ancient quest to discover, cultivate and refine new and habituating pleasures. Courtwright holds out hope that limbic capitalism can be contained by organized opposition from across the political spectrum. Progressives, nationalists and traditionalists have made common cause against the purveyors of addiction before. They could do it again, but it will be necessary to understand the history and character of the global enterprises that create and cater to our bad habits. At this webinar, Courtwright discusses his book with William Martin, the director of the Baker Institute’s Drug Policy Program.

This event is sponsored by the Baker Institute’s Drug Policy Program. Follow @BakerInstitute on Twitter, and join the conversation online with #BakerDrugPolicy.


David T. Courtwright, Ph.D., is presidential professor emeritus in the Department of History at the University of North Florida. In addition to “The Age of Addiction,” Courtwright is the author of four other books, including “Dark Paradise: A History of Opiate Addiction in America” and “Forces of Habit: Drugs and the Making of the Modern World.” He was an inaugural recipient of a grant from the highly competitive NEH Public Scholar Program and is a regular media commentator on the history of addiction. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas in 1974 and a Ph.D. in history from Rice University in 1979.


William Martin, Ph.D.
Harry and Hazel Chavanne Senior Fellow in Religion and Public Policy; Director, Drug Policy Program, Baker Institute 

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