Published on October 25th, 2016 | by I Am Awake

Almost everything we know about addiction is wrong

Addiction is caused due to chemicals in drugs which contain properties that cause the user to demand this sensation repeatedly, right? Not exactly.

The standard hypothesis on why addiction takes place was a result of an experiment whereby lab rats were enclosed in a cage with two water dispenses; one with pure water, and another with heroin-laden water. The rats would almost always go for the heroin water until they overdosed, thus supposedly proving that it was the drug that caused the addiction.

However, in the 1970s, a doctor decided to change the experiment, instead building a ‘Rat Park’, containing everything a rat would desire; balls to play with, tunnels, friends and companions to have sex with, plus the two water dispensers.

The results found that, in this park, the rats would hardly ever opt for the drug water, none used it compulsively and none overdosed, indicating that, when it was in this far more complete environment, it did not succumb to addiction.

You may be thinking whether this would be applicable to humans too. Well, the aftermath of the Vietnam war provides the answer. During the war, around 20 per cent of soldiers frequently took heroin, creating fear in America that hundreds of thousands of addicts would be back on the streets when the war ended.

Instead, 95% of those who were taking heroin in Vietnam simply stopped, without needing rehab, as they were reunited with loved ones, and back in their favored environment.

This proves that the ‘Rat Park’ experiment is a far more suitable approach to dealing drug use and subsequent addiction. It is not the chemicals, it is the cage.

This video is adapted from Johann Hari’s New York Times best-selling book ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs.’ For more information, and to take a quiz to see what you know about addiction, go to

Tags: , ,

About the Author

Comments are closed.

Back to Top ↑