Whereas recovery ideology says heavy substance users are enslaved and involuntarily using substances, The Freedom Model explanation of substance use is the exact opposite. It says that people are actively and freely choosing each time they take a dose of drugs or alcohol, and that one simple thing motivates this: the pursuit of happiness. There can be all sorts of reasons for substance use held in the mind of the individual (pleasure, stress relief, a desire for a social lubricant), but it all boils down to the substance user seeing the next dose as their best available option for feeling good in some way. Some will say that heavy substance users find the conditions of their life intolerable while sober, and so they use substances as an escape. But this is just another way of saying that they see intoxication as the happier option.
In the Freedom Model we recognize the fact that heavy substance users are fully free to change at any given time, and they need not look forward to a lifelong struggle "in recovery." Although the brain disease model of addiction is convincing at first glance, it doesn't hold up to scrutiny, and neither do the other major claims about addiction, such as loss of control, inability to stop without treatment, and more (these topics will all be addressed throughout the book.) "Addicts" truly are free to choose differently. When they become fully convinced that some lesser amount of substance use is the happier option, they decrease their substance use accordingly. With this change in perspective they find that there is no struggle needed to abstain or decrease use. They find that it is easily initiated and sustained.