One hundred years have passed since drugs were first banned, but we are just now discovering the best cure for addictions. Some researchers and public health professionals believe that our society has been mislead by our teachers and our governments: the idea that strong chemical “hooks” in drugs are what causes our bodies to crave the chemicals, and therefore defines our addictions, is an idea that may not encompass the whole story. Bruce Alexander’s Rat Park experiments¹, as well as human equivalents in Vietnam and Portugal² have shown that environment has a crucial impact on addiction, an impact which has been undervalued throughout this long century of waging war on drugs. Although these studies have not been unequivocally proven, their results have captured the attention of researchers, psychologists, and educators. In an article by Johann Hari³, he discusses that human beings are bonding animals; we need to connect and love. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find. He emphasizes, that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety; it is human connection. He believes that if we can build a social system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world, we can help addicts leave behind their addictions.
Johann Hari’s Ted Talk, Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong.
²Referenced in: Hari, Johann (2015). Chasing the Scream: The First and Last days of the War on Drugs, Bloomsbury USA.