Saturday, January 24, 2015

A Theory on Addiction


America's handling of the drug abuse problem has not been a success. In June 1971, President Nixon declared a “War on Drugs” saying that drug abuse was “Public Enemy No. 1”. The political figures continued this war with Nancy Reagan running a campaign of “Just Say No”. Four decades after the start of the War on Drugs Americans have paid more than 1 trillion dollars in arrests and imprisonment for this war. In 2010 more than 50% of all federal prisoners were arrested for drug crimes.(Source)

How Nixon's War on Drug Campaign has increased the Prison Population
War on Drug has Increased Prison Population

In Johann Hari new book 'Chasing The Scream - The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs' he shows a different cure to societies addiction problem. He states that addiction comes from being lonely, isolated or depressed with their environment. Instead of looking at it as an addiction problem, Johann Hari says it is more like a bonding problem. He states that when animals are in a positive environment, the addiction tendencies fall to the wayside.(Source)

This concept by Johann Hari's is demonstrated in a study with mice and two water bottles. The mice in the study were given an option to drink from a water bottle containing water or water laced with heroin or cocaine. The mice were in small cages and in isolation. The water with drugs were always chosen. Another study is well known as Bruce Alexander's “Rat Park”. The mice were put in the cage with other mice, food, more space and exercise equipment. With a better environment to live in, the mice chose the water that did not have drugs.(Source)

Johann Hari's theory is justified in a living example of history. The American soldiers that went to Vietnam were found to have a large heroin addiction problem. Forty percent of soldiers had tried heroin and 20 percent were addicted. The government was setting up for a large rehabilitation program to deal with the soldiers coming home after the war. Surprisingly ninety-five percent of the soldiers that were addicted stopped on their own when they returned home. This confirms the correlation between a positive environment and a decrease in addictive behavior.(Source)

Hari shows and example of a government showing postive results with reducing addiction. Portugal has shown proof of social to bonding reducing addiction for the last fifteen years. With one of the worst drug problems in Europe, Portugal decriminalized all drugs. The money they saved on drug related arrests and imprisonment was used for reconnecting people. They used the money for subsidized jobs, housing and clinics to socially deal with their problems in a comforting way. With this new approach Portugal's injection drug use is down by 50 percent. America with it's drug addiction failings can benefit from decriminalizing drugs and improving social society.(Source)


Source:
http://bjc.oxfordjournals.org/content/50/6/999.abstract

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