The Truth about Addiction, are we treating it wrongly

Having Lived in Pennsylvania for a little over two years, it can be seen by many, not just myself that the level of drug addiction has skyrocketed in the state let alone the country. According the the Pennsylvania Coroners Association, there were approximately 1946 drug related deaths in 2010, where as in 2014, 2489 people had drug related deaths  (Malawskey,Mapping Pennsylvania’s Worsening Heroin Crisis) . As it can be possibly foreseen, the number of drug users to to increase. With the increase of drug addicts, we see a change in in our neighborhoods , where flourishing towns become havens of drug activity, and taking with it the innocent lives that ae affected. It can be fairly said that we are taught that people become addicted to drugs because of their chemical nature and properties, but should we treat addiction the same way.


During the, 20th century, experiments on drug addiction were tested via the use of lab rats in a closed environment. A rat would be placed in a cage and was given two drinking apparatuses to choose from, one containing normal water, the other containing water laced with drugs such as cocaine or heroin. In these experiments, it was generally seen that the rat  would choose the laced water , and would continue to consume the laced water until it would die. However, in 1981, the results of a study made by a psychologist named Bruce. K Alexander saw that there was a possibility of a compounding variable. Like humans, rats are also social animals that can be affected by social displacement. Alexander then created a new setting in which to test his hypothesis. Instead of placing the rats in a metal cage, he created what is now known as Rat park, a haven for rats that allowed the rats to play, mate, and interact with other rats. With the change in environment, placed two bottles in Rat park, one that was laced with a drug and one that had normal water in it. With the change of environment, Alexander also placed eight male and eight male and eight females in single cages, while placing 8 male and 8 female rats into Rat park, to create a fair sized social group for the rats as well as having a group that could be compared.   While he did observe that the rats would sometimes use the laced water, the rats in Rat park would rather prefer the consumption of the non-drug laced water. ( BRUCE K. ALEXANDER, BARRY L. BEYERSTEIN, PATRICIA F. HADAWAY AND ROBERT B. COAMBS, Effect of Early and Later Colony Housing on Oral Ingestion of Morphine in Rats).

With this experiment in mind, how can we apply it to drug treatment for addiction today. One of the many methods used for drug rehabilitation is rapid detoxification, which uses drug to sedate a person while they go through withdrawal symptoms . While it be seen as a quick fix comapred to in-patient therapy, which can last from 6 to 12 months, however, with the rapid detox, there are issues of relapse. My high school drug education teacher told us that her family had to enter her sister in a inpatient treatment program because of ow many times her sister had relapsed. Our teacher had explained that since her sister’s body did not go through the pain caused by withdrawal,  her sister would constantly relapse. With inpatient treatment, people will stay at a secluded location that offers a addict that chance to become sober while having a socially positive enviroment.  In-patient treatment can be seen as more successful in a few cases because it offers a change of environment for those that are , similar to to how Bruce Alexander created a change in the environments for the rats.

While, the subject of of what addiction truly is may be interpreted in many ways,  I hope that this blog opens the thought on how drug addiction rehabilitation treatment can be changed as well as change the views as to what addiction can be viewed as.



“Choosing Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation.” Choosing Inpatient Rehab vs. Outpatient Rehabilitation. N.p., n.d.

“Effect of Early and Later Colony Housing on Oral Ingestion of Morphine in Rats”, BRUCE K. ALEXANDER, BARRY L. BEYERSTEIN, PATRICIA F. HADAWAY AND ROBERT B. COAMBS ,  December 5, 1980

Malawskey, Nick. “Mapping Pennsylvania’s Worsening Heroin Crisis.” N.p., 2016. .

“Opiate Detox and Detoxification.” Opiate Detox and Detoxification. N.p., n.d. .

“Rat Park.” Addiction: The View from (2010). N.p., n.d. .

“Report on Overdose Death Statistics 2014”, Pennsylvania State Coroners Association,



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