In a famous study on the reason for addiction, a rat was placed alone in a cage with two bottles of water. One of the bottles was laced with heroin or cocaine. After trying both bottles, the rat repeatedly chose the laced water until the heroin killed it. The conclusion of the study was clear: powerful drugs like heroin take over people’s lives and destroy them, just like the rats in the cage.
A Reason for Addiction
But what if rats were not left in isolation? Would they still choose the laced water over the normal water? A psychology professor, Bruce Alexander asked this question when he redid the experiment using a different environment. Instead of isolating the rats in empty cages, he created Rat Park, a spacious cage for many rats to play together. The rats had quality food, tunnels to explore, and most importantly, other rats to bond with. He repeated the experiment with the two bottles. What he discovered was astounding. Even though heroin and cocaine are extremely addictive, the rats preferred water.
Then he took the experiment a step further. He left the rats in isolation for about two months. The rats were completely hooked on heroin by the time they were transferred to Rat Park. Although they experienced withdrawal symptoms, they ultimately chose the pure water over the laced water. The physically dependent rats recovered in the better environment.
In his book Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, Johann Hari argues that the real reason for addiction isolation, and that the solution is positive, social environments that support recovery. The quality of ones “cage” is a core reason for addiction. Most people will continue to do drugs if they lack human connection. In Hari’s words, “a heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.” Instead of treating addiction as a disease or a moral shortcoming, Hari suggests creating systems that help drug addicts reconnect with the world, and find meaning beyond addiction.
Treating Addiction at Morningside Recovery
Morningside Recovery follows a similar philosophy to the one discovered by the Rat Park experiments. During recovery, we encourage our clients to reach out to others and participate in a variety of programs that help them reconnect with their peers. To facilitate this, we host many addiction therapy services and rehab programs, such as:
Morningside Recovery is the perfect environment for our clients to pursue recovery and build lifelong support networks. Don’t let isolation be the reason for your addiction and contact us today at 855-631-2135. Our staff members and sponsors are ready to help you towards a healthier and happier life.