By: Shujan Marali

Addiction is a condition where one is addicted to a substance or action. Things that can be qualified as addictions can be eating, working out, and the most common - substance abuse. It is a mental illness. It impacts one’s life and can tear away at what makes someone human. People with this illness are affected in many ways and can impair judgement and other functions of daily life, but no one really investigates why people become addicted to things.

One of the main components of addiction comes from quality of life. In a study done in the late 70s, Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues at Simon Fraser University at British Colombia, Canada looked at rats to understand the impact of quality of life and drugs. In this study, Alexander separated two groups of rats. In one area he had put rats in a three-by-three cage and put a solution of sweetened morphine in a dispenser, while the other dispenser had water. The other group of rats were in a large area with other rats and toys to play with. When studying the caged rats, they found that they took the morphine solution instantly. The rats in “Rat Park” had not taken the morphine as early as the caged rats. In another version of the study he had forced the caged rats to drink the morphine solution and later put them in rat park. He did this to test if the rats would drink water or continue drinking the morphine solution. To his surprise they drank the water and showed minimal withdrawal symptoms, with some showing dependence.

If rats can avoid drugs and stay away from them why can’t humans? It’s a tough question to answer. There is a lot more a human must deal with than a lab rat. Addiction is a terrible, nasty thing that can be dealt with, but only with the right tools. Counseling and treatment centers can help people get back on their feet, along with a healthy support system. If you or a loved one is dealing with addiction, offer them some help and support. Call (855) 826–4464 to contact an addiction support group to get help.

Sources:

Alexander, Bruce K., et al. “The Effect of Housing and Gender on Morphine Self-Administration in Rats.” Psychopharmacology, vol. 58, no. 2, 1978, pp. 175–179., doi:10.1007/bf00426903.

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