Addiction is a commonly misunderstood condition within our western society. Our misunderstanding comes from a series of scientific studies that were conducted in the 1960s. In these studies scientists placed a rat in a solitary cage, gave them no ability to interact with their own species and even starved them for periods of up to 24 hours. While enduring this intense environment the rats were also given access to two different types of water, one being regular drinking water and the other was laced with morphine. The results of these studies was that all of the rats used the drug laced water compulsively and, if left in this environment, would end up killing themselves by overdosing on this water.
Dr. Bruce Alexander, a Canadian psychologist, viewed these studies as incomplete. He noticed that the rats were placed in an unnatural solitary environment and he believed that he may get an alternative result if he placed them in a more natural environment. He decided to conduct a new study which he named Rat Park. In this study the doctor created a very large cage with all of the balls, exercise equipment and cheese that a rat could want. Crucially he also made sure that there were lots of rats within Rat Park, so that they could form strong connections with their own species.
In Rat Park the rats had access to the same regular drinking water and drug laced water that their friends had in solitary confinement. However, in Rat Park none of the inhabitants used the drug laced water compulsively. On top of this, when addicted rats were taken from their solitary confinement and placed in Rat Park they would inevitably stop using the drug laced water compulsively, thereby resolving their addiction.
Johann Hari has written a book named ‘Chasing the Scream’ where he outlines the positive social implications of Dr. Bruce Alexander’s work. He has also given a TED talk on the topic. In this talk Johann comes to the conclusion that it is not sobriety, but connection which is the resolution to addiction.
Connection has the power to resolve all of the addiction within ourself and within our society. This shows that there is no need to use will power in order to resolve our addictions. All we need to do is truly experience connection. This experience must first happen inside of ourself, with our emotions. Once we connect with our emotions we naturally connect with our thoughts. When we connect with our thoughts we naturally connect with our physical actions and thereby our whole human being. When we are connected inside of ourself we naturally experience connection with everyone and everything that we choose to interact with.
When we are connected within ourself we are connected within our life, when we are connected within our life we experience the resolution to all addiction.
Please click here to view Johann Hari’s TED talk on addiction.