The Cause of Addiction – no surprise!

Dr. Weeks’ Comment:  I obtain always sought to empower my patients with the appreciation that thoughts create feelings and feelings in construe create biochemical changes.  Yes – of beat you can approach this dynamic from the other tendency of action – take a drug and truth the thoughts and feelings but the indigenous, healthy process is the “trickle down” option.  So this stilted article, which addresses the cause of absorbedness, makes for good reading. Trust your efficacy to think and in choosing your thoughts, simple fellow a positive “spin” of your life. 

The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

Johann HariAuthor of ‘Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’

It is now one century years since drugs were first banned — and entirely through this long century of waging hostility on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and ~ means of our governments. This story is such deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it on account of granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly yes. Until I set off three and a moiety years ago on a 30,000-mile excursion for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War in successi~ Drugs, to figure out what is indeed driving the drug war, I believed it overmuch. But what I learned on the way is that almost everything we be in actual possession of been told about addiction is sin — and there is a true different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to perceive by the ear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the mix with ~s war. We will have to make some ~ in. ourselves.

I learned it from ~y extraordinary mixture of people I met steady my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn by what means the founder of the war attached drugs stalked and helped to slay her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled gone ~ of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of immersion as a grown man. From a transsexual madden dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived then his mother, a crack-addict, was raped ~ means of his father, an NYPD officer. From a male person who was kept at the power of endurance of a well for two years through a torturing dictatorship, only to appear to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the declared hostilities on drugs.

I had a wholly personal reason to set out concerning these answers. One of my earliest memories while a kid is trying to reanimate up one of my relatives, and not vital principle able to. Ever since then, I hold been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind — that which causes some people to become fixated put ~ a drug or a behavior to the time when they can’t stop? How observe we help those people to draw near back to us? As I got older, not the same of my close relatives developed a cocaine immersion, and I fell into a affinity with a heroin addict. I suspect addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me the kind of causes drug addiction at the begin, I would have looked at you viewed like if you were an idiot, and declared: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not arduous to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my confess life. We can all explain it. Imagine allowing that you and I and the nearest twenty people to pass us on the street take a really forcible drug for twenty days. There are firm chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would bring forth a ferocious craving. We would subsist addicted. That’s what addiction estate.

One of the ways this system was first established is through rat experiments — ones that were injected into the American mind in the 1980s, in a remarkable advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The prearranged investigation is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, through two water bottles. One is conscientious water. The other is water laced by heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you hazard this experiment, the rat will be appropriate to obsessed with the drugged water, and stronghold coming back for more and besides, until it kills itself.

The advert explains: “Only person drug is so addictive, nine at a loss of ten laboratory rats will conversion to an act it. And use it. And conversion to an act it. Until dead. It’s called cocaine. And it be able to do the same thing to you.”

But in the 1970s, a professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexandernoticed somebody odd about this experiment. The rat is inflict in the cage all alone. It has nought to do but take the drugs. What would turn up, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a juicy cage where the rats would be the subject of colored balls and the best rat-cheer and tunnels to scamper down and adequate supply of friends: everything a rat here and there town could want. What, Alexander wanted to comprehend, will happen then?

In Rat Park, tot~y the rats obviously tried both irrigate bottles, because they didn’t understand what was in them. But that which happened next was startling.

The rats through good lives didn’t like the drugged furnish with ~. They mostly shunned it, consuming inferior than a quarter of the drugs the separate rats used. None of them died. While wholly the rats who were alone and deplorable became heavy users, none of the rats who had a pertinent environment did.

At first, I opinion this was merely a quirk of rats, till I discovered that there was — at the like time as the Rat Park exact trial — a helpful human equivalent attractive place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “being of the kind which common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: more 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had be converted into addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many race were understandably terrified; they believed a elephantine number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

But in incident some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the identical study — simply stopped. Very hardly any had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a facetious one, so didn’t want the put ~s into any more.

Professor Alexander argues this detection is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a significance failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the catholic view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In act, he argues, addiction is an adaptability. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

After the highest phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander hereafter took this test further. He reran the seasonable experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — grant that anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them gone ~ of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to be assured of, if you fall into that narrate of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you transversely? What happened is — again — astomshing. The rats seemed to have a hardly any twitches of withdrawal, but they promptly stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a natural life. The good cage saved them. (The well stocked references to all the studies I am discussing are in the main division .)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How have power to this be? This new theory is in the same state a radical assault on what we be in actual possession of been told that it felt like it could not have ~ing true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the greater amount of I looked at their studies, the greater degree of I discovered things that don’t look to make sense — unless you take exploration into principles of this new approach.

Here’s individual example of an experiment that is happening quite around you, and may well come to pass to you one day. If you procreate run over today and you degrade your hip, you will probably have existence given diamorphine, the medical name in spite of heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people besides given heroin for long periods, with regard to pain relief. The heroin you determination get from the doctor will be seized of a much higher purity and might than the heroin being used through street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So allowing that the old theory of addiction is ~ful — it’s the drugs that bring about it; they make your body distress them — then it’s distinct what should happen. Loads of nation should leave the hospital and try to charge smack on the streets to come together their habit.

But here’s the irregular thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian teacher Gabor Mate was the first to account for to me, medical users just discontinue, despite months of use. The sort drug, used for the same duration of time, turns street-users into without hope addicts and leaves medical patients honest.

If you still believe — for example I used to — that devotedness is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s abstract principles, the picture falls into place. The road-addict is like the rats in the primary cage, isolated, alone, with only single in kind source of solace to turn to. The therapeutic patient is like the rats in the sixtieth part of a minute cage. She is going home to a life to what she is surrounded by the folks she loves. The drug is the corresponding; of like kind, but the environment is different.

This gives us some insight that goes much deeper than the emergency to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings be seized of a deep need to bond and cast connections. It’s how we persuade our satisfaction. If we can’t be joined with each other, we will couple with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the thorn in the mind of a syringe. He says we should intermit talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and in lieu call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin habituate has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t union as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human relative.

When I learned all this, I form in a mould it slowly persuading me, but I smooth couldn’t shake off a nagging be in a state of uncertainty. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks mould no difference? It was explained to me — you have power to become addicted to gambling, and cipher thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You be possible to have all the addiction, and not one of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous junction in Las Vegas (with the permit of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were being of the cl~s who plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I require known in my life. Yet in that place are no chemical hooks on a craps diet.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns disclosed there is an experiment which gives us the reply to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is united of the most addictive processes on every side of. The chemical hooks in tobacco approach from a drug inside it called nicotine. So at what time nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge slack up suddenly of optimism — cigarette smokers could gain all of their chemical hooks, on the outside of the other filthy (and deadly) goods of cigarette smoking. They would subsist freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has base that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are practical to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nihility. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of habituation, as this shows, that’s notwithstanding millions of lives ruined globally. But the kind of it reveals again is that the invention we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction untrue with chemical hooks is, in truth, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has immense implications for the one-hundred-year-practised war on drugs. This massive strife — which, as I saw, kills folks from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool — is based on the claim that we need to physically root out a whole array of chemicals as they hijack people’s brains and bring about addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of absorption — if, in fact, it is severance that drives addiction — then this makes ~t one sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs truly increases all those larger drivers of devotedness. For example, I went to a jail in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — in what place inmates are detained in tiny marble isolation cages (‘The Hole’) beneficial to weeks and weeks on end to discipline them for drug use. It is being of the cl~s who close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed murderous addiction in rats as I have power to imagine. And when those prisoners be~ out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off even more. I watched this playing away in the human stories I met over the world.

There is an choice . You can build a system that is designed to cure drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I obtain seen it. Nearly fifteen years since, Portugal had one of the conquer drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the peopling addicted to heroin. They had tried a unsalable article war, and the problem just kept acquisition worse. So they decided to accomplish something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize aggregate drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing deaden with narcotics addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their acknowledge feelings, and to the wider social sympathy. The most crucial step is to come by them secure housing, and subsidized jobs such they have a purpose in life, and a portion to get out of bed as being. I watched as they are helped, in eager and welcoming clinics, to learn to what extent to reconnect with their feelings, later than years of trauma and stunning them into muteness with drugs.

One example I lettered about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals unshaken. Suddenly, they were a group, tot~y bonded to each other, and to the converse, and responsible for each other’s care.

The results of total this are now in. An bold study by the British Journal of Criminology plant that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting deaden with narcotics use is down by 50 percent. I’ll say over that: injecting drug use is prostrate by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been of the like kind a manifest success that very scarcely any people in Portugal want to be off back to the old system. The essential campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s head drug cop. He offered all the terrible warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But whereas we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not advance to pass — and he after this hopes the whole world will come Portugal’s example.

This isn’t sole relevant to the addicts I regard with affection. It is relevant to all of us, for the reason that it forces us to think differently in regard to ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We want to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “alone connect.” But we have created every environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or furnish only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of habituation is a symptom of a deeper complaint in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the nearest shiny object we should buy, sooner than the human beings all round us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the maturity of loneliness.” We be delivered of created human societies where it is easier ~ the sake of people to become cut off from quite human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the the first cause of Rat Park — told me that on the side of too long, we have talked exclusively on the eve individual recovery from addiction. We be in want of now to talk about social convalescence — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is falling on us like a thick haze.

But this new evidence isn’t even-handed a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t deserved force us to change our minds. It forces us to vary our hearts.

Loving an addict is actually hard. When I looked at the addicts I goddess of ~, it was always tempting to come the tough love advice doled to the end by reality shows like Intervention — state the addict to shape up, or divide them off. Their message is that one addict who won’t stop should be shunned. It’s the logic of the put ~s into war, imported into our private lives. But in thing done, I learned, that will only make deeper their addiction — and you may dispossess of them altogether. I came home determined to fetter the addicts in my life closer to me than ~more — to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t.

When I returned from my ~-spun journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in going away, trembling on my spare bed, and I judgment about him differently. For a hundred now, we have been singing strife songs about addicts. It occurred to me while I wiped his brow, we should bring forth been singing love songs to them altogether along.

The full story of Johann Hari’s journey — told through the stories of the clan he met — can be explain in Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War forward Drugs, published by Bloomsbury. The part has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You have power to buy it at all good bookstores and be ~ more at

Johann Hari be pleased be talking about his book at 7pm at Politics and Prose in Washington DC attached the 29th of January, at lunchtime at the 92nd Street Y in New York City on the 30th January, and in the decline of day at Red Emma’s in Baltimore put ~ the 4th February.

The full references and sources in the place of all the information cited in this essay can be found in the book’s extended end-notes.

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