In this HUFFPOST article and interesting video, Johann Hari, talks about his book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. It’s a 4.8 Amazon Star book and NYT Bestseller.
In his discussion, Mr. Hari starts with two lab studies, one in which a single rat is placed in a cage with nothing but two bottles of water to choose from – one drugged and one not; and the second study is Rat Park, where lots of rats are placed into Rat Park [essentially Camp-Awesome for rats (lots of community, lots of play things, lots of room to move, etc)], and these rats also have two bottles of water to choose from – one drugged and one not. In the first study, the single rat became totally addicted to the drug water; in the second study, most of the rats did not become addicted to the drug water. An initial conclusion from this study along with other examples given is that it’s not the chemicals in the drugs that are addicting, it’s the lack of connectivity and meaning in life that is the basis for addiction. He goes on to cite historical spikes in drug addictions concurrent to periods of cultural discord and unhappiness.
He talks about Portugal’s approach to decreasing drug addiction in their country, which had reached tremendous proportions. Through their efforts, they were able to reduce the addiction rate by 50%. Their approach was led by research scientists and doctors, and instead of laws and penalties, Portugal spent their resources on rehab for addicts and reintroducing them into society with measure such as subsidized job placements. Helping people get their lives back, reconnect, and reestablish meaning in their days proved to be an effective way to combat drug addiction.
The implication of Mr. Hari’s research is that if instead of criminalizing drugs and wasting our time and resources on useless efforts to stop drug abuse and trafficking, we take measures culturally to help people want to be “present in their lives” (helping them find connectivity and meaning), then the war on drugs could be over and the problem of addiction could be reduced significantly.
If Mr. Hari’s findings are interesting and intriguing to you, I encourage you to listen in and read on (both in the HUFFPOST article above and in his book, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs). This insightful look into addiction can help to inform you in your future practice as healthcare providers.
On The Path You Travel to Become The Best Shining You!
Best Wishes Always,