The Biggest Misconception About Addiction
What’s the main cause of drug addiction? The obvious answer would be drugs, right? Well, yes and no. Let’s take heroin as the example throughout this article. If you were to take heroin on a daily basis for 20 days, by day 21 your body would crave the drug because of some chemicals found within it. This is mostly what we know drug addiction to be. But the thing is that this “theory” is wrong and here is why.
If you are unfortunate enough to be part of an accident and you manage survive, but with some fractures, you’ll be taken to a hospital where you’ll be given diamorphine to manage your pain. This medicine is in fact heroin, but of the purest quality. But since many people take this drug in hospitals all over the world, and in many cases, way over than just 20 days, it stands to reason that, at lest some of them will become junkies after they’re released. This however, doesn’t happen.
What we currently know about addiction comes from a series of experiments done in the first half of the last century. One such experiment consisted of a single lab rat, confined to a cage with two water bottles. One was just plain-old water, while the other was “spiked” with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time this experiment was carried out, the rat would become obsessed with the heroin water, and so much so that it would eventually overdose on it and die. So far, so good… so to speak.
In the 1970’s however, a professor of psychology by the name of Bruce Alexander noticed that this particular experiment was not quite accurate when it came to its procedure. So, he decided to build a more accurate “Rat Park“. He noticed that in the initial experiment, the rat was all alone and had nothing better to do than take the drug all day. So, in his “Rat Park” or a sort of “heaven for rats” which comprised of a lush cage with all sorts of colored balls, tunnels, plenty of friends and the possibility for romantic attachments… if you know hat we mean. And again, they would all have the drugged water and normal water. The fascinating thing here is that “heroin lite” was barely touched.
Another “similar experiment” was carried out on humans during the Vietnam War. Over there, some 20% of US troops were using heroin, as a means to cope with the hellish conditions of combat. People back home were panicked since they believed that after the war’s end, there would be a huge influx of veteran drug addicts. But this didn’t happen. In fact 95% of all drug users in Vietnam, didn’t touch the stuff again, once back. This didn’t happen, despite the fact that they didn’t go to rehab or even feel the effects of withdrawal.
Now, we still don’t know all about addiction, that’s for sure, but these latest experiments indicate that things are not exactly what they first seem. One thing is for sure though, and that is that mammals, humans included, are social beings and bond with whatever makes us happy. If we lead a healthy and stable life, we tend to bond with friends and family and are more active and do much more fun activities. But if we’re depressed, lonely or beaten down, then we tend to “bond” with things which bring us a sense of relief; not just drugs.
So, in a sense, we don’t get addicted to drugs because that’s what drugs do, but because that’s what bring us a “sense” of joy into our lives. So in order to not get addicted to drugs, we should form healthy attachments; to be connected with people you want to be present with. It seems, like in most cases, the answer is within us, and not outside. Reality is what e make it to be.
This video by Kurzgesagt will explain this far better than we ever could. Take a look.