Are drugs themselves the actual cause of drug addiction? Or is addiction caused by other factors that contribute to these spiralling addictions more so than the drug itself?
The stigma attached to illicit drugs is like a lingering stain that just won't go away. Most people you talk to will blame drugs for most of society's problems. The propaganda surrounding drugs have always been filling our heads with absolute nonsense for many decades now. I bought into it just as much as everyone else, but now looking back on hindsight, I literally laugh out loud when I see any drug propaganda. Obviously, most drugs aren't good for you, you don't have to be a scientist to know that, but they are nowhere near as bad as the mainstream media makes it out to be. Despite what they tell you, most users will in fact NOT become addicted to drugs, nor will they suffer long-term damage.
The government have been known to go to extreme lengths of trying to prove that drugs cause a 'chemical hook' into our brains, which therefore causes our body to become physically and psychologically dependant on it. There was one infamous experiment conducted where scientists put a rat in a cage with two water filled bottles. One bottle was filled with just ordinary water, while the other was laced with cocaine. They found that 9/10 rats got addicted to the cocaine water, and drank from it until they ultimately died. And of course the mainstream media advertised this to the public, and told them that taking cocaine could do the same to them.
Professor Bruce Alexander (Psychology professor) looked at this study and said: "Hang on a second, something is not right here." All these rats were isolated in a cage so they didn't have any companions, nor did they have many options in their favour, so the chances of them continuously drinking the cocaine water were in fact extremely high.
Alexander decided to recreate this experiment but with different rules. He created a rat park, where there were slides, coloured balls and multiple rats to create a community. He still gave these rats the option to drink the drug water, and what he found was that the rat park group had zero deaths, and less than 1/4 of these rats become addicted to the drug water. So these rats would drink the drug water but they didn't feel compelled to keep drinking it as they were in a positive environment - versus an isolated cage.
Professor Alexander took his original experiment one step further. He left the rats that were in isolation while they got addicted to the cocaine water for 57 days. If these drugs create such an intense chemical hook to our brains then these rats would have no chance in recovering from addiction, especially after 57 days of ingesting cocaine everyday, right? After the 57 days, Professor Alexander put these rats into the rat park cage with all the other rats. Yes, they obviously did go through some withdrawal symptoms, but after some time they returned to having a normal life - just from being put into a different environment.
Some could argue: "Yeah but these are rats. How can they represent humans?"
This has been demonstrated with humans over and over again. If you throw someone in an environment like 'da hood' where crime rate is high, then they're going to have a much higher chance of getting addicted to drugs.
One classic example of this is the Vietnam War.
Time Magazine reported that using heroin was "as common as chewing gum" among U.S soldiers in the Vietnam War. There is solid evidence to back up the claim that: around 20% of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin during this time (Archives of General Psychiatry). But when soldiers arrived home, 95% of the addicted users completely stopped using. In fact very few had rehab. See what happens when you move someone from a hostile cage to a nice one?
Even neuroscientist Dr. Carl Hart states that drugs themselves contribute only partially to addiction - that misery, poverty and the environment are equally to blame. It is no coincidence that meth is a bigger problem in depressed rural areas than the affluent inner cities.
I mean think about it. If the drugs "chemical hook" is the sole reason why we get addicted to drugs, then by that logic; nicotine patches should work for 100% of the people who are trying to quit smoking, right?
17.7 percent. That's the percentage of people who manage to quit smoking by using nicotine patches, and that's not even accounting for the placebo effect.
Drugs don't cause drug addiction. The main factor that causes drug addiction is the environment and the disconnection one feels. The euphoria and pleasure that drugs provide is amazing. So if you're in a shitty environment where you cannot naturally access this euphoria and pleasure, then why wouldn't you do drugs?
Our current method shunning drug addicts will only further delve them into their addiction. It's when they're in a supporting environment with friends and family that care for them which gives them a fighting chance to beat their addiction. Science has suggested many times that lack of social support contributes to many physical and mental illnesses, and may even lead to further depression and/or drug abuse.
When I was a teenager, I was really hooked on weed. I know it's not cocaine, but as we've discussed, the drug itself plays a very small factor in the actual drug addiction. I was smoking so frequently that it completely controlled my life. Every time I got busted, my mum would completely flip out and go psycho on me. She would ground me, yell at me, remove me from all my friends, while constantly watching me like a hawk. I felt like I was in a prison cage which was a nightmare.
Did this help me quit weed? FUCK NO!
This made matters so much fucking worse (which she will never admit haha). The only significant difference this made was make my life more difficult and inconvenient because I had to be much more careful. I would pretend I'm taking a shit in the bathroom while I would sneak out the window and go to my carefully hidden bong kit ready in my back yard. The skills I acquired of smoking weed like a ninja became an art form actually.
The fact of the matter is, all I wanted was to feel connected, to talk to someone, anything! If my mum just talked to me like a human being, a friend, and tried looking at things from my perspective, things would have turned out a lot differently. Instead of turning my cage into an isolated one. That being said, I'm not blaming anyone as I take full responsibility for all my actions.
So could you see how throwing a drug addict into a jail cell - where they are disconnected from the outside world - have virtually no chance in quitting drugs? How can they? You've taken away all their basic human rights and on top of that, given them a criminal record that prevents them from getting a job, travelling overseas, and essentially having a life. No shit they're going to keep taking drugs, I mean, I don't know about you guys, but I definitely would.
I'm going to refrain from talking about the war on drugs here, as this is a topic I will most definitely discuss in future blogs/videos, as this is a very deep topic which I'm very passionate about.
Addiction is everywhere, not just in drugs. People are addicted to all sorts of things ranging from internet and television to eating and fucking. What is the reason for us getting addicted to these activities? Is it purely the activities themselves that create a hook in our brains or is it something deeper than that, like the environment you are in or what's going on in your life?
It's really easy to blame drugs in and of itself for many of society's problems, but as Carl Hart says, drug abuse is not the cause of a bad society, it is in fact the other way around. It's our relationship and how we perceive it that's the real problem. It's like saying money is the root of all evil. But is it? Last time I checked, money is literally pieces of paper. Money is not the root of all evil, it's our perception of money that is the problem. It's our love and greed for it that causes so many conflicts.
It's the same thing with drugs. At the end of the day drugs is just a chemical substance. To say that drugs themselves cause addiction and ruins lives is silly, in my opinion. It's when our abuse of drugs become so extreme that we will do anything to chase that high. I guarantee you that if you give a truly happy person the most "addictive" drug in the world, it would be highly unlikely that they would become addicted. Why would they? If they feel connected, fulfilled and have social support, why would they feel compelled to keep taking it?
Drugs aren't the cause of drug addiction. Disconnection is.