Rob Ford Uses “Nature Vs. Nurture” To Dodge Responsibility
Need help? Call our 24/7 helpline. 855-933-3480

Rob Ford Uses “Nature Vs. Nurture” To Dodge Responsibility


Are addicts born or made? Is such an affliction innate or circumstantial? “Nature vs. nurture” is probably one of the most pressing questions of all time, and it seems like everyone has a different take on the matter.

Including disgraced Toronto mayor Rob Ford, who after being released from rehab recently, made this controversial statement: “I was born with blond hair, I’m going to die with blond hair.” This came after he was released from rehab and began to campaign for re-election earlier this month. “I was born an alcoholic, I’m going to die an alcoholic.”

Owning Up Versus Copping Out

Is that true, though? The politician’s confident assertion has unsurprisingly sparked a debate on the much trodden subject. In Ford’s particular situation, his statement seems to have caused folks to accuse him of using it as an excuse not to take responsibility for his clandestine actions while in office (he confessed to smoking crack and was recorded being drunk in public, and refuses to resign from his position).

One writer, Robert Fulford, seems inclined not to believe Ford, saying, “He wants everyone to know he’s not to blame for all those things that happened, those many occasions when he made an international fool of himself—even though he’s kind of sorry about them.”

Another expert by the name of Professor Griffiths adds: “This nature versus nurture debate is a bit of a red herring. Addiction is a combination of genetics and environment and psychology. There is a genetic basis for almost every addiction, but of course genetics on its own doesn’t explain why someone goes on to become addicted.”

It’s Still a Grey Area

Many experts and addicts alike feel that their illness is a combination of nature and nurture, an explosive mix that makes them increasingly likely to be afflicted. As Howard Samuels, Psy.D., sober addict and founder of the Hills Treatment Center, writes on his Psychology Today blog,”It seems as if I was this ticking time bomb just sitting there, waiting for the right configuration of events to set me off, but I’ve got to tell you, once that sucker detonated, I was off and running and, literally, out of control.”

In my own experience, I’ve often chafed at the notion that alcoholism and addictions are full-fledged diseases, despite the genetic component. I guess I’m resistant to the idea that addicts have no control over their addiction; sometimes it feels like that assertion is primarily used by 12-step groups to help further their belief that the only path to recovery is through giving up one’s will to a Higher Power.

In any case, Rob Ford’s statements open up an important dialogue about the ways and means of addictions, which is always a welcome thing.

Photo courtesy of West Annex News (Flickr: Rob_Ford_meets_the_press_2) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons (resized and cropped)

Any Questions? Call Now To Speak to a Rehab Specialist
(855) 933-3480

About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.