Addiction – whether it be to drugs, nicotine or food is at the forefront our current health care crisis.
It’s long been thought that a persons addiction to a substance is related to a chronic brain disorder: a dysfunction in the reward, motivation and memory circuits leading to addictive manifestations. Many consider the chemical substances found in drugs, alcohol and sugar to be the main contributing factors as to why a person “becomes” addicted.
Research is beginning to show that chemical dependancy to a substance may NOT be the entire reason why people become addicted.
An old experiment was performed in the 1970’s where a rats were placed in an empty cage with two water bottles. One with cocaine like substance and one with water. The rats become addicted to the cocaine and drank it until it died. This experiment helped contribute to our current belief system around chemical addictions.
However, a psychologist by the name of Bruce Alexander noticed that the the odd thing about this experiment (and how it relates to “real” human life) is that the rat was placed in the cage all alone. He re-performed the experiment in a different environment he termed “rat park”: everything a rat could ever want including other rat friends, coloured balls and toys, tunnels and obstacles to run through and plenty of food.
Rat park still contained the two water bottles. However in this different environment the rats drank from the cocaine laced water bottle a quarter of the amount, did not become addicted and did not die.
NONE of the rats in a HAPPIER environment died or become addicted.
So how does this relate to us and current health care problem?
Think about yourself or others around you that are currently addicted to substance or situation… a drug, medication, alcohol, food or sugar.
What is their environment like?
What is their level of social support?
Are they happy in their environment?
It’s the caliber of whats in your “cage” around you that may determine your happiness and your level of addiction to these substances or situations. Surround yourself with family, friends, health professionals and environments that positively impact your mindset…. and your health.
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