The Cause Of Drug Addiction

Laitman_154In the News (from The Huffington Post): “It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned – and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true.… But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong — and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

“If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves….

“Experiment 1: “Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.

“Experiment 2: “Professor Alexander [a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander] built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?

“In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn’t know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.

“The rats with good lives didn’t like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did. …

“At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was — at the same time as the Rat Park experiment — a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was ‘as common as chewing gum’ among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

“But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more. …

“Experiment 3: “After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. …

“Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin.  In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. … So if the old theory of addiction is right — it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them — then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected. …

“The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different. …

“So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection. … Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction. For example, I went to a prison in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages (‘The Hole’) for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off even more. …

“There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

“Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. …

“This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — ‘only connect.’ But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us. …

“The writer George Monbiot has called this ‘the age of loneliness…’ We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.”

My Comment: Restoring good mutual communication between people, in spite of our egoism, is an absolute panacea for all our ills. And then, through the attainment of unity, it leads us to the Upper World, to perfect eternal existence.

Related Material:
Education Can Fix The Addicted Brain
The Goal Of Life Instead Of Drugs
Worrisome Demographics

One Comment

  1. Thank you for such an important article! Will look forward to hearing from you soon!

Discussion | Share Feedback | Ask a question Comments RSS Feed