On drug addiction

I don't know if you've been part of any drugs-are-bad-for-ya propaganda, but if you have then you probably remember someone telling you how rats, given the chance, will discard food and water in order to keep pressing levers that deliver them cocaine - and as a result, die.

(And then someone probably pointed out how important it is to not even try, ever, or you'll end up like those rats there.)

And maybe you've even been told how human body can produce its own, natural high. It differs from person to person, but some people get high by running, other by climbing mountains, others by painting, whatever - that feeling of satisfaction after doing something you love, technically speaking it's a high. It's what bodies do.

But I learned something new this morning. Turns out - you know those rats that were pressing cocaine levers and forgot to eat and drink, and then died? Well, those rats were kept in small, sensory-deprived cages where they didn't have anything else to do: it was either eat-this-food-and-drink-this-water or press-this-lever-and-you'll-at-least-feel-happy-about-something; small, empty, grey cages.

There was absolutely. Nothing. Else. To do.


But you know happens when rats live in big cages where there are running wheels and puzzles and colorful walls - basically, things to do - and other rats they can interact with? Do they still end up forgetting to drink and eat because they are busy getting cocaine?

The answer isn't really that surprising if I think about it, though it did come as a surprise when I read about it first. www.bbc.com/future/story/20130910-drug-addiction-the-complex-truth

To me it suggests there might be a wider picture behind drug addiction than simple I-tried-and-then-I-got-hooked.

There always is.

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