Addiction is all around us.  But why?  Why hasn’t the war on drugs been effective?  Maybe we’ve been accepting some things as fact that aren’t true. What if the cure for addiction is actually quite straight forward and relatively simple? That is the kind of what if’s that are worth exploring. Johann Hari, provides interesting insight into the history of our assumptions about addiction, specifically heroin and cocaine addiction and what we might have gotten wrong.

Initial experiments were conducted by putting a rat alone in a cage with plain water and drug laced water.  Findings were straight forward.  The rats went back more and more for the drugged water until they actually died from it. The deduction was the rats became addicted to the drugged water.

Professor Bruce Alexander  wondered if there was something else at play. What if it was’t just the accessibility to the drugs that caused the rats to become addicted?  What if the environment, the situation itself had something to do with it. He soon revisited the experiments, but with a twist.  He created a rat friendly environment.

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.  J. Hari

Could it really be that addictions biggest secret is isolation, loneliness, hopelessness?

It’s one thing to design an experiment in the lab and another to extrapolate it to the real world.  However, that’s exactly what was done in Portugal. Hari proceeds to explain.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with one percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different.
They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them—to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs…
The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. J. Hari

via Can Connection Cure Addiction?, by Johann Hari.

I strongly encourage you to check out the entire article. While connection may only be a part of the solution, results seem to point to it being a big part. Hari provides some interesting statistics to back up his points. He’s right that this isn’t just about addiction and addicts. We’re forced to contemplate in a different way what we need and the importance of bonding and connecting to our species.

Just maybe, a big part of success really is simply to


I’m willing to give it a shot.

© 2015 JFries / Rise Like Air

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