Monday, April 6, 2015
#96 / Rat Park
According to Johann Hari, author of Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs, it is not mainly the chemical properties of drugs that cause addiction. Instead, the physical and social conditions that prevail in an individual's environment is what is most determinative.
You can get a short summary of Hari's argument in this Huffington Post article. Or, you can read a blog posting on "Rat Park." You can also read an article by Bruce K. Alexander, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Simon Fraser University, entitled "The Rise and Fall of the Official View of Addiction."
Hari's credibility is questionable, and I am reluctant to give full credit to his claims. Still, it does make sense to me, based on my experience, that individuals who live in "parklike" settings are less likely to engage in desperate and destructive behaviors than those who are trapped in hostile and threatening environments.
Something to think about when we consider social policy (for humans, I mean; not rats).