What do you know and accept as true about addiction and addiction treatment?
Everyone knows that drugs cause addiction, right? The harder the drug, the worse it will be to stop using…or so we all believe. So it must be the drug causing the problem, isn’t it?
There is evidence all around us that drugs are not the cause of addiction. Many people are prescribed intravenous pain medicines called diamorphine, which is heroin, while hospitalized with severe injuries or medical conditions that cause severe pain. Those people do not become drug addicts. There isn’t an epidemic of drug addiction among a population of people who’ve been given pain medicine for a brief time to relieve pain while hospitalized. Since they took the same drug that a heroin addict does but don’t become addicted, this is evidence that the drug itself isn’t the problem.
According to Professor Bruce Alexander, the problem is our increasing alienation from one another and our lack of healthy bonds. Experiments with rats showed that the rodents would drink heroin or cocaine-laced water over regular water until they died in their cages, but those results changed entirely when the rats were placed in cages with other rats in a comfortable and happy environment. Almost none of the rats in that second environment chose to drink the drugged water at all.
The findings challenge everything we’ve been taught about addiction. Instead of criminalizing addiction, destroying people’s lives with criminal records and placing them in cages where they suffer even more, imagine if we focused on improving communities where drug addiction is prevalent and treating individuals who are addicted with mental health therapy and focusing on improving their relationships with others.
One of the most powerful considerations that exists around the causes of drug addiction is that addicts do not take drugs to feel good, they take them to feel less bad. Perhaps changing what is causing the pain instead of perpetuating that pain by treating it as a criminal issue is just the answer we’ve all been searching for.
See the full video below: