I know we discussed this a bit in class, but I definitely found this the most interesting point of cognitive dissonance. When the theory of cognitive dissonance is applied to an addict, I feel like its far more complicated. Everything changes when a drug, especially an opiate such as heroin, becomes the top of the hierarchy of needs for any individual.
Humans are instinctual creatures; we all want to live. Physiological needs top Maslow's hierarchy, but once a person mainlines heroin into their bloodstream, heroin becomes the top of the hierarchy of needs. If you ask a dope fiend if he wants a burger or a bundle, he'll pick the bundle every single time. So:
Humans naturally want to live.
Then, a human gets addicted to heroin. I would say a relatively prudent person of average intelligence would realize that once they are addicted to heroin, they will either have to take very difficult steps to get clean and live , or die. But humans naturally want to live. But the heroin addict will keep shooting heroin in some cases and kill themselves. Then there's no more cognitive dissonance, no more hierarchy. Just a drug.
Is heroin that good that it becomes more important than living? Users report an "infatuation" and actually being "in love" with this opiate (bluelightforum.com, The Dark Side). They'd rather die a user than ever go hanggliding or get married or meet their potential grandchildren.
So people say that addicts are addicts because of their own faults and mistakes. If they wanted to just quit and live, they would, right? Maybe the first time they used, they just snorted it, made a mistake, didn't realize that they would absolutely fall in love with the drug and never recover. The thought of the drug and how it makes them feel lingers in their brain throughout the hours of the day when those of us who are non-addicts think about girls or football or homework. It just becomes the drug. That's it.