When it comes to drug addiction, we have been told it is purely chemical and studies with lab rats seemed to confirm this belief. However, according to the article, a study done in the 1970s by Professor Bruce Alexander pointed out a flaw in the earlier study. In the first study, the rats had no alternative but to either drink plain water or to drink drug-laced water. Professor Alexander set up a different experiement. Instead of putting the rats in a stark cage with two choices, he
built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want.....In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn't know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.The rats with good lives didn't like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.The article continues to explain other situations even social experiments to determine the causes and effective treatments for substance addiction. It seems that, while there are chemical roots in drug addiction, the environment is more important. And the author sums it up nicely:
The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.Continuing the so-called War on Drugs is not the answer. It might fatten the pocketbooks of those in the law enforcement business and the contractors they use, but it destroys the lives of those who become addicted as a way out of the shallow lives we are encouraged to create.