It’s not the chemicals that cause addiction (2017)

For decades, we have been told that drugs are highly addictive due to a series of rat experimentations that placed one rat alone in a cage with two water bottles – one containing cocaine or heroin, and the other just water. However, Professor of Psychology in Vancouver, Bruce Alexander, believed that the rat experiments were potentially flawed because the rats were kept in cages by themselves, with nothing else to do but to take the drugs. Alexander recreated the experiment, but this time he placed the rats in Rat Park, where they had colorful balls, premium rat food, tunnels, and plenty of rat friends, and found that the rats consumed less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used and none of the rodents in Rat Park died. Therefore, it wasn’t the drug that was causing addiction, it was the environment. Addiction is just one symptom of the crisis of disconnection that is happening all around us. We have to build a society that looks a lot more like Rat Park and a lot less like those isolated cages.

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