Turns out that if you're lonely, have few other options, and/or your life generally sucks you are likely to use drugs.
As someone that has believed in the "tough love" approach, I have definitely had a softening over the years as I've experienced firsthand what drug users around me are going through. Of course the real change in my attitude is the realization that in America, drug use is a highly politicized topic- and both sides are wrong. It is treated as a criminal justice problem, instead of a public health issue- and of course the government doesn't have the legitimate authority to deal with drugs as either one. Be nice if "we" got the "we" out of a whole bunch of issues as in the political "we".
One of the ways this theory was first established is through rat experiments - ones that were injected into the American psyche in the 1980s, in a famous advert by the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. You may remember it. The experiment is simple. Put a rat in a cage, alone, with two water bottles. One is just water. The other is water laced with heroin or cocaine. Almost every time you run this experiment, the rat will become obsessed with the drugged water, and keep coming back for more and more, until it kills itself.
The advert explains: "Only one drug is so addictive, nine out of ten laboratory rats will use it. And use it. And use it. Until dead. It's called cocaine. And it can do the same thing to you."
But in the 1970s, a Professor of Psychology in Vancouver called Bruce Alexander noticed something odd about this experiment. The rat is put in the cage all alone. It has nothing to do but take the drugs. What would happen, he wondered, if we tried this differently? So Professor Alexander built Rat Park. It is a lush cage where the rats would have colored balls and the best rat-food and tunnels to scamper down and plenty of friends: everything a rat about town could want. What, Alexander wanted to know, will happen then?
In Rat Park, all the rats obviously tried both water bottles, because they didn't know what was in them. But what happened next was startling.
The rats with good lives didn't like the drugged water. They mostly shunned it, consuming less than a quarter of the drugs the isolated rats used. None of them died. While all the rats who were alone and unhappy became heavy users, none of the rats who had a happy environment did.
Post by AgeOfEnlightenmentSCP on Jan 21, 2015 18:16:32 GMT -5
I think we should start by abandoning the notion that "we" need to "send them" anywhere. Whenever you are in the middle of the kind of social and fiscal meltdown that is the war on drugs, I'm always for stopping, leaving people alone, and seeing what happens. Odds are it won't be perfect, but compared to what we've been doing, it might just seem perfect.