Getting a rat in a rat colony addicted to opiates isn't easy at all, opiates taste so disgustingly bitter that rats just won't touch them. I think they had to go up to 20 % sugar and even then the animals preferred to be thirsty. Some went so far as not to touch the sugar/opiate solution at all and found it better to die of thirst. Contrary to popular opinion/Wikipedia, Rat Park wasn't paradise.
The other thing is that opiates don't help rats being rats. Anyone who has ever interacted with rat knows they are curious and social animals, they like to explore, fight and have sex. Nothing you can do while high on opiates. From this angle you'd almost predict that a rat might not like to be addicted to opiates. The experiment actually confirms the hypothesis.
Now alcohol on the contrary - it doesn't taste quite as awful, you can have much fun being drunk, have barfights and drunk sex, as Friday night in a British city center confirms, and it works just as well with rats as with humans. The follow-up experiments have been made. No rat ever voluntarily gave up booze.
If so, that doesn't undermine the whole of the article's point; it merely suggests that the best policy for getting people off opiates isn't necessarily the best for dealing with alcoholism. The "Drug War" isn't a war on alcohol, after all.
> The other thing is that opiates don't help rats being rats. Anyone who has ever interacted with rat knows they are curious and social animals, they like to explore, fight and have sex.
Sounds pretty human to me.
"I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels." Is this more credible than modern science?
"It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned" is incorrect. There have been laws in the U.S. against some drugs since the 1860's, and various laws in Europe and the Middle East for a few hundred years.
Even the headline, "The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered..." is faulty in that it implies there is only one cause for any addiction.
Even without the causation argument, this article is largely empty of credible science. It's disappointing to see this type of pseudo-science on HN.
Previously discussed on HN: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=7742950
Follow up study failing to reproduce results: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9148292?dopt=Abstract
While I believe personality has a lot to do with it (maybe the "cage" is your own head for some people?), the environment is critical. Teenagers in particular are prone to this because they're essentially adults mentally, but have little freedom, autonomy or respect from the rest of the world.
This certainly accords with sub-acute 'addictive' behaviors in my own life -- there are no more horrific episodes of binge-eating, drinking, and general shitty life decisions as when I'm at odds and ends, sitting around the house, with nothing to do, or nothing I feel like doing. Which has implications, in the internet age, of what it means to be an enriched environment.
This folk psychology also dovetails with one of the article takeaways -- throwing people in jail where all they can do is rot is unlikely to do anybody much good in the long run.
Perhaps, in this model, their lives were already without sufficient human connection. And I think there's a lot of merit to the concept of "better alternatives result in fewer addicts." I just want to register some counter-evidence to the all-cheery picture presented here.
So I think the key takeaway from the article is this: addiction is not just about the chemical hook, there's a social angle that's generally underestimated. But doesn't mean we should forget about the (1) chemical hook and (2) neurological changes that happen when someone becomes addicted.
This thesis probally has a lot of validity. That said, I
have meet a lot if people with seemingly good lives who drink
like there's no tomorrow? Plus, they have the disposable income to buy harder drugs without resorting to crime--diverting being caught, and identified.
Personally, I think we have been conditioned to believing
addiction is a disease and there's no hope unless you go to
Rehab, or if you are poor--"You must go to AA!".
I feel media, and even a lot if MD's have made getting off drugs, including alcohol; a lot harder than it is in reality. I give a pass to most MD's because they were taught
that patients lie about how much of a drug they are using.
(You tell a doctor you are drinking 750 ml bottle of wine a night, they are doubling the amount in their minds--so they
don't even want to take the risk of telling you that you can
titrate yourself off the drug.)
I know getting off drugs is hard; I just don't know how hard it is. The damage, or thoughts have already been engrained in the psyche of most people. I'm not sure how they can properly(controlled, double blind, etc., honest) study the
problem, or if their is a problem.
For myself, I was a heavy drinker. My doctor flat out told me "don't fuck with it--going off without medical oversight
is extremely dangerous. Well I wasen't going to spend the last of my savings on an expensive rehab, so I kept drinking. I finally
got to the point where I really wanted to stop. I decreased
the amout I was drinking by roughly 10% every two days and eventually became a non-drinker. In my case it worked. Maybe, I got lucky?
One other antidotal story. My best friend died from COPD.
He smoked 2-3 packs of cigs for 50 plus years. We used to watch tv together and see those commercials equating stopping
smoking to quitting Heroin and just watched in silence. I gave up asking him to quit. I even bought him cigarettes when he was to sick to buy them himself--because if I didn't he would drag himself to the store and buy them himself--huffing, etc.
(I'm not proud about picking up his cigarettes.) Well one day, we decided together he would stop. Actually--I told him
I'm done--you need to stop. Day 1 (slight cravings). By day 3, or 4--he called me up and literally said, "I was so easier than I thought. Not stopping sooner was the biggest mistake of my life." It was too late, but his COPD got slightly better, and he lived another 5 decent quality years.
There's a quote by Burroughs and it pops into my mind weekly--I wonder how much truth it holds?
William Burroughs, who spent two decades on heroin, said that
“getting off drugs is not all that difficult. It’s vastly exaggerated—only a month, whatever method is used, a slow withdrawal or whatever, and they’re going to be out of the woods.”