The way we shop, consume, the hours we spend online, our constant food cravings… All compulsive and often harmful. We are all addicts. Still, as long as we don’t become addicted to drugs or alcohol, a second thought on addiction is never on the table.
If that is completely okay, why do we have a cruel way of dealing with drug addiction around us, both socially and politically?
We live in a society that has declared an aggressive war on drugs by accusing and mistreating people who use drugs. We cut them out of our lives and leave them without any support or protection without thinking of the state an addict could be in. Meanwhile, we expect them to ‘get theirselves together’ as if that is even a possibility for any isolated and excluded person. We become more terrifying and harmful to them than any kind of addiction.
It is a dangerous loop.
After all his deep researches, journalist and author of ‘Chasing the Scream: the First and Last Days of the War on Drugs’, Johann Hari wants to change the debate on drugs by inviting us to rethink our methods.
In his TED talk, Hari repeatedly argues that we need to approach people with drug issues with love, compassion and a determination to deal with the root causes of their pain.
To explain, Hari mentions the Rat Park experiment conducted by Bruce Alexander in Vancouver on addiction. Unlike a previous cage experiment in which rats only had access to drug cocktails and water in a small cage, in this experiment, rats are given a large cage with free food, access to toys and other rats to socialize with. Dr. Alexander observed that rats actually refused drug cocktails.
When the two experiments were compared, it was found that environmental stress leads to addiction. Eliminating the stress factors reduces the chances of addiction.
In our lives, we all have moments when life knocks us down and we need something to help us cope. We are all human beings. But we need a feeling of connection to gather our strength back and get up. The opposite of addiction is connection. It is important to remember and remind ourselves that we can hold on to love and support as long as we need to.