The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered – It’s Not What You Think

The Likely Cause Of Addiction Has Been Discovered - And It's Not What You Think

By Johann Hari

Guest Writer for Wake Up World

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned, and all through this long century of waging war on drugs, we have been told a story about addiction by our teachers and by our governments. This story is so deeply ingrained in our minds that we take it for granted. It seems obvious. It seems manifestly true. Until I set off three and a half years ago on a 30,000-mile journey for my new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, to figure out what is really driving the drug war, I believed it too. But what I learned on the road is that almost everything we have been told about addiction is wrong, and there is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.

If we truly absorb this new story, we will have to change a lot more than the drug war. We will have to change ourselves.

I learned it from an extraordinary mixture of people I met on my travels. From the surviving friends of Billie Holiday, who helped me to learn how the founder of the war on drugs stalked and helped to kill her. From a Jewish doctor who was smuggled out of the Budapest ghetto as a baby, only to unlock the secrets of addiction as a grown man. From a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn who was conceived when his mother, a crack-addict, was raped by his father, an NYPD officer. From a man who was kept at the bottom of a well for two years by a torturing dictatorship, only to emerge to be elected President of Uruguay and to begin the last days of the war on drugs.

I had a quite personal reason to set out for these answers. One of my earliest memories as a kid is trying to wake up one of my relatives, and not being able to. Ever since then, I have been turning over the essential mystery of addiction in my mind — what causes some people to become fixated on a drug or a behavior until they can’t stop? How do we help those people to come back to us? As I got older, another of my close relatives developed a cocaine addiction, and I fell into a relationship with a heroin addict. I guess addiction felt like home to me.

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: “Drugs. Duh.” It’s not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That’s what addiction means.

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.

At first, I thought this was merely a quirk of rats, until I discovered that there was – at the same time as the Rat Park experiment – a helpful human equivalent taking place. It was called the Vietnam War. Time magazine reported using heroin was “as common as chewing gum” among U.S. soldiers, and there is solid evidence to back this up: some 20 percent of U.S. soldiers had become addicted to heroin there, according to a study published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. Many people were understandably terrified; they believed a huge number of addicts were about to head home when the war ended.

But in fact some 95 percent of the addicted soldiers — according to the same study — simply stopped. Very few had rehab. They shifted from a terrifying cage back to a pleasant one, so didn’t want the drug any more.

Professor Alexander argues this discovery is a profound challenge both to the right-wing view that addiction is a moral failing caused by too much hedonistic partying, and the liberal view that addiction is a disease taking place in a chemically hijacked brain. In fact, he argues, addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you. It’s your cage.

After the first phase of Rat Park, Professor Alexander then took this test further. He reran the early experiments, where the rats were left alone, and became compulsive users of the drug. He let them use for fifty-seven days — if anything can hook you, it’s that. Then he took them out of isolation, and placed them in Rat Park. He wanted to know, if you fall into that state of addiction, is your brain hijacked, so you can’t recover? Do the drugs take you over? What happened is — again — striking. The rats seemed to have a few twitches of withdrawal, but they soon stopped their heavy use, and went back to having a normal life. The good cage saved them. (The full references to all the studies I am discussing are in my book.)

When I first learned about this, I was puzzled. How can this be? This new theory is such a radical assault on what we have been told that it felt like it could not be true. But the more scientists I interviewed, and the more I looked at their studies, the more I discovered things that don’t seem to make sense — unless you take account of this new approach.

Here’s one example of an experiment that is happening all around you, and may well happen to you one day. If you get run over today and you break your hip, you will probably be given diamorphine, the medical name for heroin. In the hospital around you, there will be plenty of people also given heroin for long periods, for pain relief. The heroin you will get from the doctor will have a much higher purity and potency than the heroin being used by street-addicts, who have to buy from criminals who adulterate it. So if the old theory of addiction is right – it’s the drugs that cause it; they make your body need them – then it’s obvious what should happen. Loads of people should leave the hospital and try to score smack on the streets to meet their habit.

But here’s the strange thing: It virtually never happens. As the Canadian doctor Gabor Mate was the first to explain to me, medical users just stop, despite months of use. The same drug, used for the same length of time, turns street-users into desperate addicts and leaves medical patients unaffected.

If you still believe – as I used to – that addiction is caused by chemical hooks, this makes no sense. But if you believe Bruce Alexander’s theory, the picture falls into place. The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to. The medical patient is like the rats in the second cage. She is going home to a life where she is surrounded by the people she loves. The drug is the same, but the environment is different.

This gives us an insight that goes much deeper than the need to understand addicts. Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It’s how we get our satisfaction. If we can’t connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find — the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about ‘addiction’ altogether, and instead call it ‘bonding.’ A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn’t bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

When I learned all this, I found it slowly persuading me, but I still couldn’t shake off a nagging doubt. Are these scientists saying chemical hooks make no difference? It was explained to me — you can become addicted to gambling, and nobody thinks you inject a pack of cards into your veins. You can have all the addiction, and none of the chemical hooks. I went to a Gamblers’ Anonymous meeting in Las Vegas (with the permission of everyone present, who knew I was there to observe) and they were as plainly addicted as the cocaine and heroin addicts I have known in my life. Yet there are no chemical hooks on a craps table.

But still, surely, I asked, there is some role for the chemicals? It turns out there is an experiment which gives us the answer to this in quite precise terms, which I learned about in Richard DeGrandpre’s book The Cult of Pharmacology.

Everyone agrees cigarette smoking is one of the most addictive processes around. The chemical hooks in tobacco come from a drug inside it called nicotine. So when nicotine patches were developed in the early 1990s, there was a huge surge of optimism — cigarette smokers could get all of their chemical hooks, without the other filthy (and deadly) effects of cigarette smoking. They would be freed.

But the Office of the Surgeon General has found that just 17.7 percent of cigarette smokers are able to stop using nicotine patches. That’s not nothing. If the chemicals drive 17.7 percent of addiction, as this shows, that’s still millions of lives ruined globally. But what it reveals again is that the story we have been taught about The Cause of Addiction lying with chemical hooks is, in fact, real, but only a minor part of a much bigger picture.

This has huge implications for the one-hundred-year-old war on drugs. This massive war — which, as I saw, kills people from the malls of Mexico to the streets of Liverpool — is based on the claim that we need to physically eradicate a whole array of chemicals because they hijack people’s brains and cause addiction. But if drugs aren’t the driver of addiction — if, in fact, it is disconnection that drives addiction — then this makes no sense.

Ironically, the war on drugs actually increases all those larger drivers of addiction. For example, I went to a prison in Arizona — ‘Tent City’ — where inmates are detained in tiny stone isolation cages (‘The Hole’) for weeks and weeks on end to punish them for drug use. It is as close to a human recreation of the cages that guaranteed deadly addiction in rats as I can imagine. And when those prisoners get out, they will be unemployable because of their criminal record — guaranteeing they with be cut off even more. I watched this playing out in the human stories I met across the world.

There is an alternative. You can build a system that is designed to help drug addicts to reconnect with the world — and so leave behind their addictions.

This isn’t theoretical. It is happening. I have seen it. Nearly fifteen years ago, Portugal had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, with 1 percent of the population addicted to heroin. They had tried a drug war, and the problem just kept getting worse. So they decided to do something radically different. They resolved to decriminalize all drugs, and transfer all the money they used to spend on arresting and jailing drug addicts, and spend it instead on reconnecting them — to their own feelings, and to the wider society. The most crucial step is to get them secure housing, and subsidized jobs so they have a purpose in life, and something to get out of bed for. I watched as they are helped, in warm and welcoming clinics, to learn how to reconnect with their feelings, after years of trauma and stunning them into silence with drugs.

One example I learned about was a group of addicts who were given a loan to set up a removals firm. Suddenly, they were a group, all bonded to each other, and to the society, and responsible for each other’s care.

The results of all this are now in. An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I’ll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country’s top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass — and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal’s example.

This isn’t only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster’s — “only connect”. But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.

The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness“. We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.

But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.

Loving an addict is really hard. When I looked at the addicts I love, it was always tempting to follow the tough love advice doled out by reality shows like Intervention — tell the addict to shape up, or cut them off. Their message is that an addict who won’t stop should be shunned. It’s the logic of the drug war, imported into our private lives. But in fact, I learned, that will only deepen their addiction — and you may lose them altogether. I came home determined to tie the addicts in my life closer to me than ever — to let them know I love them unconditionally, whether they stop, or whether they can’t.

When I returned from my long journey, I looked at my ex-boyfriend, in withdrawal, trembling on my spare bed, and I thought about him differently. For a century now, we have been singing war songs about addicts. It occurred to me as I wiped his brow, we should have been singing love songs to them all along.

Chasing the Scream

Johann Hari’s New York Times Bestselling book Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs is Johann Hari’s book is the perfect antidote to the war on drugs.

Johann Hari - Chasing The Scream

It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.

In Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hit-man in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari’s discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade — and it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalize every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.

Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war — in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial – and consequential – questions of our time.

Chasing The Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs is available here on Amazon, or read more at

About the Author:

Johann HariJohann Hari was a columnist for the Independent in London for nine years and was twice named Newspaper Journalist of the Year by Amnesty International UK. Johann is passionate about ending the ‘war on drugs’. You can read the full story of his journey, told through the stories of the people he met in his book Chasing The Scream, published by Bloomsbury. The book has been praised by everyone from Elton John to Glenn Greenwald to Naomi Klein. You can buy it at all good bookstores, here on Amazon, or read more at

You can Follow Johann at:


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  • ejsharp

    Addictions are caused because of voids within the personality and are the consequence of attempting to fill an emotional or moral void with a temporal substitute.

    • Tracy M Sickul-Curtis

      I totally agree with you. It’s also a bit related to availability in area you grew up in. That’s why some alcoholics think they are fine…. Because they don’t use “drugs” but as we know alcohol is a highly addictive substance. Also very damaging.. Looks like an interesting read to me.

      • Marishka Noyb

        Alcohol isn’t addictive in and of itself. Unless you are an Alcoholic…

      • Devin Krueger

        Alcohol is actually healthy, in small quantities, for the cognitive functioning of your brain.

  • Philip Natale

    Addictions are caused because people use drugs. Period. Don’t use drugs… and you won’t get addicted to the. End of story.

    • shauna

      So what if you play poker all the time and I am completely sober? I wont get addicted? awesome, thanks for the advise 🙂

    • Simon Lindgaard

      my god, what an ignorant statement.. “car crashes are caused because people drive cars. period. don’t drive cars… and you won’t crash. end of story.

  • Lia S. Brooks

    Okay, so I want to not start by saying that this is a dangerous article but I have to because you have pissed me off, you have moms, aunts, sisters, brothers, dads and so forth who will read this article and their wounds will be opened again because they now will believe that they should have allowed their addicts to manipulate, steal, perhaps even physically abuse them because they should “love them unconditionally” to non-addiction, how ridiculous!!!!! I’ve been in the field of addiction for over 15 years and there is no cure, addiction involves so many variables and for you to say this is, is idiocy, and if you don’t believe that this is THE CURE, then you should have allowed yourself to write a lot more about this subject than what you wrote. Is this a possibility to help addicts, the ones that will be helped by “love”? Yes, but it certainly is not THE CURE. So think again before you post such nonsense!!!!!! My best friend just finished reading this article and called crying because her brother will have died of an overdose one year ago. She asked me to read this article. This girl did EVERYTHING in her power to help her brother, including living with her, trying to get him into rehab, he chose not to get clean. This is a choice that they make until they are ready to make a change and until then the evil that is addiction will run rampant and they will destroy everything in their path until THEY are ready to get clean. Can they use empathy and compassion of course, but in their addiction they will destroy not only themselves but you as well. Be very careful and THINK of all sides before you write something like this, sir.

    • Leasa roberts

      I have dealt with addiction for many years. Proven fact, addiction is 50 % genetics and 50% poor life choices. Not one single addict in the history of time ever set out to be an addict on purpose. My sister passed away last November from an overdose. I have lost many people over the years to addiction. These articles are misleading and full of untruths.

      • Shereen MJ

        I “liked” your comment, because I agree with your point. However, nothing can be said to be “a proven fact” about the complicated and individual nature of addictions in something as complex as a human being. The 50/50% statement isn’t a “proven fact”. It could be a good generalization or theoretical representation.
        I am very sorry for your loss, and do agree with your point though.

    • shauna

      Wow, you sound very open minded. It must be nice having all the answers and knowing that your way is the right way, period. Wish I had all the answers and knew everything too then I would have no problems in life and I would have time to rant online also.

    • lakecity21

      I have no experience with addictions but, I have seen many times addicts manipulate, lie, and no whatever they can for their addictions. There are some people who are just not good people. Nothing will change that. I have also found that in every situation there is an enabler. The enabler “loves” the addict too much to let them hit rock bottom. The enabler is trying to fill a void in their life as well.
      Some people just can’t be saved and no one should ruin their lives to show compassion to an addict.

      • Shereen MJ

        There’s not an “enabler” in every situation.

        This was a completely ignorant statement. How could that even be true? It’s not like an enabler magically pops out of a crack pipe in the hands of a lonely person, or even more people would be on drugs. It’s tempting to quote buzz words you hear on Oprah… but it takes some actual knowledge and understanding of a subject matter, to use buzz words correctly.

        Many addicts are in the category of adults who moved away from their home towns for work, are single, and live alone. No one at their work knows they’re an addict…
        So where’s the enabler?

    • thats correct loving them unconditionally is way 2 uphill and impossible task, becoz in that process we might destroy ourselves , unconditional love is very costly especially with addict who doesn’t care about himself or any 1 else

  • jaxviews

    I like this article and basically agree with the author. I have personally observed that nearly all of the patients in mental wards in various hospitals smoke cigarettes and are angry that their smoking privileges are severely limited. Outside, cigarette smokers are social pariahs now. This aversion to their nicotine addiction adds greatly to their loneliness and deep-down need of acceptance.

  • NickyO

    “The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live — constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.” I’m sorry but I’m afraid I haven’t read anything “New” here. I’m in recovery myself as are millions of other people who talk about this concept and the deeper roots of addictive behaviour everyday of their lives.

  • robertjustrobert

    I have had addictions,fatal diagnosis’s, can manifest into their own reality such a powerfull thing if one truly ” believes”.this is how ” they ” get you ,2 well rebound ” doc tors ” telling you have a. fatal disease & have 9/18 months to live,one ” believes ” this deception, manifests the symptoms & most if time die.the medical system’s schools created by pharmacuticle CO’s which burned all true info on cures.

  • Lainie Cox

    WOW …WOW… What an amazing and controversial article a very interesting discovery with very diligent reporter searching for truth because she dared to question it and the very existence of it….I say you must check this out if you have ever had the struggle in your life….It makes perfect sense to me now …once there i realize that most of the people I knew that were there all were somewhat eccentric and indifferent with society …misfits…all looking for some sort of connection that made us feel whole again….I applaude you for your bravery and you perseverance in making this article come to play.; Now its convincing the rest of our easily influenced and close-minded society that what they have believed something for so long the possibility of that conclusion being a farce…this is the biggest challenge yet. I can only hope that we can come together and love thy brother …we need a change ….this could change the world. an epic event could unfold and create a domino effect…if Portugal could do it with a more than a 50 % turnaround…..that is pretty profound and worth looking into and giving it a try cuz obviously the other isn’t working …of course in reality there is always going to be that few percent that it wont work for ….I KNOW IT IS WORTH THE TRY TO SAVE A LOVED ONE . .

  • Vix

    such a great article…. a young boy I know is a heroin addict, so it really helped me to think differently about his addiction…. but what can we doif he doesn’t acknowledge that he has a problem and has no wish to quit…. is love still going to help or will he just manipulate and abuse it?

  • Irhologram

    Addictions are caused by emotional or moral voids and attempts to fill them…is the best response. I was an accredited counselor (no longer up to date). What I found is that people rarely change…The mental health community saying is that people change because they want to or because they have to, and no one changes because they want to. I allowed myself, out of a belief in doing good, to be the human “love” shield for two different addicts at two different times in my personal life. I found that matter how much you love someone, you cannot convince them to step out of rat box hell. You cannot change OTHER people with your love, you can only change yourself….and to the extent the quality of your loving had affected the relationship, changing yourself can help. But at some point, if your love was not the issue, you will be abused emotionally in ways that are not helpful to the rat in the cage, and are debilitating to you in ways that waste your life. At that point, you have become what is known as “co-dependent.” I believe this is misdefined. It doesn’t mean you “get off” in “rewards” or feed some need in yourself for “respect,” IMHO. More simply put, you’ve become co-dependent when you are no longer measuring up to your OWN best potential, because of distraction by another.

    • raysgirl

      I think that addiction should be taken out of the mental health arena entirely. Addiction is a complex neurobiological response/disorder that still warrants a lot more study (i.e. money) to understand the relationship between the biology and the emotional response that is elicited. That is where an ultimate “cure” is going to lie.

      • C Jackson

        I’m doing my master’s in Psychology and I don’t see how you can separate mental health from neurobiology when it comes to addiction. I don’t seem to understand what you mean by that as they are intertwined when it comes to treatment. I hear what you are trying to say in regards to your other point. Though what seems to be misunderstood is that the environment and neurological mechanisms have a dynamic relationship where each affect the other. Your environment/experiences constantly change your brain chemistry and not much is actually “fixed” when it comes to the brain. A poor diet can cause a deficiency in a certain neurotransmitter for example. Though most people seem to think that when they have a chemical imbalance, that they were just born with it or that it’s just the way they are. This false understanding is dangerous as it leads to individuals thinking that they can’t do much about it and end up taking medication which simply makes the problem worse in the long run. It is important to remember that changing your behavior can change your brain. Also, the problem with your suggestion of further studying this is that most of the money in psychological research is coming from pharmaceutical companies who are only interested in developing drugs or expensive and continuous treatments for disorders so I don’t see a “cure” coming anytime soon as the amount of money needed for this would be hard to come by. In regards to this ultimate cure you speak of… What type of cure are you referring to? I don’t understand what you mean.

    • star22

      The reason it didn’t work in your experience is that you are just one person the answer is in numbers. Until human reconnection you can’t leave them alone with their thoughts of the drug the bad connection. They need to feel as if they are part of a community that cares about them. And I bet you tried to be a drill sargent with them. You know, ” do it now, stop that!) all it did was strengthen the outcast feeling with in them.

  • Craig Clements

    A great article I thought. I am a psychotherapist and a recovering drug addict and have to agree that addiction is a multi-faceted and complex phenomena. There is of course the biological and psychological addiction but behind most addiction is a combination of mental health problems, social disconnect, early childhood traumas and existential crisis. The war on drugs is a total failure and a waste of resources. It only criminalises millions of users and clearly doesn’t prevent illegal drugs being available. We need to completely rethink our approach to preventing drug use and recovering from drug addiction. De-criminalisation is the only way forward but there is still too little political will and too much public ignorance fed by misinformation from governments and media.

    • Loren Franks

      Drugs are a venue to expand the experience of the human condition on many different levels. Just like an athlete gets pumped on adrenalin. Caffein,nicotine and alcohol are the drug of choice for billions. Hormones are drugs both male and female. We are a walking drug store. Problem is when the drug starts running things. Thats when the human gets lost. I used to step over crack addicts on Stevenson St. between 6th and 7th street in San Francisco in order to access my back door to my job. Problem was that there is a federal courthouse there too with cameras on the alley. I saw with my own eyes a federal black shiny new van with government plates selling and dispensing crack to these poor devils. Remember Oliver north and the Iran Contra scandel?

      • David in MA

        I have witnessed drug sales at a methadone clinic.
        They would get their “cookie” and then come out, light a smoke and gather around to make a buy…

      • greenearthman

        I remember the quaalude epidemic of the 70s. A lot of us thought the gov was trying to control political unrest by keeping people stoned. Montreal seems to come up in a lot of conversations re those drugs, as well as stuff like identity sales and other “black ops” kinds of things. I know for a fact that ludes were coming into Buffalo and Cleveland. They were dirt cheap there!

    • handytrim

      NO! It’s the drugs! Drugs are bad, m’kay! Don’t do drugs! – Our backwards and most evidently corrupt government’s version of the truth. When it come to mental health our government’s continually shy away and even try and dismiss such things as non-illnesses. Such as here in the UK where our disgusting government refuse to accept mental illness as a reason as to why many people find it difficult to function in an everyday social and business environment, forcing them to become reclusive and potentially turn to drug use and abuse. Those people who they then chose to take away state benefits and forcibly make them adhere to society’s falsified norms. Meaning several hundred vulnerable people taking their own lives in a national scandal that is now being investigated by the UN. It is a much harder thing to look at the real issues that lead to addiction, criminal activity and even murderous gun sprees that we sadly see all to often in the US. We tend to blame everything from gun control, drugs, videogames, music, etc. as for the reasons behind these things rather than looking harder at the individuals and the circumstances that led them to these dark places. The reality is that the world for many people is a grim, harsh, unfair and horrible place that continually robs them of any power over their lives and makes them feel worthless whilst also filling them with fear over the future. Is it any wonder why even people who supposedly have it together turn to substances for a little escapism? The difference between the two is usually the person with a job and a family and also a habit will have a drug problem, whilst a jobless person, suffering mental illness will be labeled an addict.

  • When our physical body is controlled by a habit and emotion we become
    slaves to internal chemicals. This makes detachment from addictions difficult for most people. The addiction has forced our cells to morph and become dependent on a particular peptide for sustenance. In other words, our cells demand that chemical fix!

  • Cornelius B. Omoniyi

    This is the most beautiful article i have ever read in my life. Makes me wonder who the writer is on the inside, such a loving and wonderful creature. God made you perfect dear, keep doing your thing, we won’t stop sharing love to everyone and everybody we come across, enemies, addicts, lovers, name it. Thank you for this great insight.

  • John Harris

    bio social pscho. Every person is a mosaic.

  • Swa Sri

    Excellent argument. Agree with you. One of the first steps in de-addiction is about substituting habitual activities with other new ones- often involving a social circle and responsibilities that require accountability- giving people a sense of purpose and meaning. Keeping a diary to record emotions, not suppressing them. So it does yes, come down to acceptance, being realistic and believing in something better.

  • I call BS on the whole concept of this article. How many rich and famous people so we see who die from drug overdoses. If it is simply how nice your “cage” is then these people should never even use drugs in the first place.

    • Russell Lister

      You’re being too literal. The cage isn’t a physical place. It’s a representation of isolation used with the rats in his study. It’s a stretch to believe that only people in physical cages have a higher tendency to be addicted to a substance or behavior. Just because you have wealth, power and fame does not mean you’re happy, and does not mean you feel loved. Everyone wants to feel loved and included, and when you do it fills a huge void. This article isn’t negating current knowledge, it’s simply stating there’s a lot to add to it.

    • Shereen MJ

      They still may have had a torturous “cage” growing up. Just because later they moved to an externally pleasing environment, the one in their dreams and minds might be of severe childhood abuse.

      I’m not claiming to agree with the concepts in the article, just pointing out why a rich and famous adult may still internally live in an isolated cage of trauma.

  • Kazina

    Poisoning and malnourishment. guarantee it 100%

  • raysgirl

    Down the road, I believe, it will be proven just the opposite, that addicts have some different neurobiological response. I think this article may be the tip of something, that this “disconnection” is something biological that causes the addict to be unable to be part of any loving community, be it family or society at large. Addiction has been described by other authors as a “switch” that gets turned on and cannot be turned off. That, too, can be explained by neurobiology. I am hopeful that studies like fPET will unravel the complex neurobiologic issues that comprise addiction.

    • Adam R. Wright

      What the hell kind of comment is that… “..addicts have some different neurobiological response” I don’t even believe that YOU believe that. You are just posting stuff to get a rise out of people, either being paid to do so or just by some sick fetish.

    • Gershom Schleider

      You are getting a lot of shit for a good argument. I agree with you to an extent. Yes its a diconecct from people that may cause addiction, but why do some people feel this lonieness while others do not? You bring a valid point, two people from similar situations can turn out so diffrent , one a drug addict while another a perfectly functional member of society. Why is one an addict and the other not? However, nurture still plays a huge role, statiscs show people from poorer homes or broken homes have much higher chances of addiction. It seems to me that it takes two things to cause addiction: a) ones chemical makeup b) ones environment. Classic nature vs. nurture.

      • raysgirl

        I think it will prove out that nurture has less than we think and genetics will play a more significant role. Many members of a family do not develop other know genetic conditions, so addiction should be no different. I do think family/home environment might play a role in ongoing development but I don’t think that will be the most significant role in that disease development.

        • Aifyflower

          Many factors play into the experience of individual siblings raised in seemingly identical environments. Sometimes one sibling is emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, and the other(s) isn’t/aren’t. Sometimes one sibling clashes with one or both parents. Sometimes one or both parents don’t like one of their children. Sometimes one is bullied more at school, or sexually assaulted, but doesn’t feel that their parent(s) believed them, or supported them, or met their individual emotional needs. Even birth order can strongly affect a person’s experience growing up, and middle child syndrome is very real.
          I’m not saying that nature doesn’t factor in when we examine addicts, as many people on this earth have absolutely been put through the ringer, but don’t develop addiction issues. But nurture, I think, is always a factor alongside nature. I don’t see how any scientist could think otherwise.

        • enviorment shapes genetics to a large extent,20% is genes and 80% is upto you

        • EmmettGrogan

          As a therapist in alcohol/drug rehab for 16 yrs, I disagree with you. Yes there is a substantial genetic component; but just because both your parents were alcoholics doesn’t mean you don’t have a choice. It has been shown thru MRI research that kids abused or neglected in childhood are far more prone to addiction – they don’t get to learn how to love and be love and get attachment disorder. Attachment disorder is at the heart of addiction and I’ve seen this in every addict I’ve ever worked with or known and that’s alot of people.

    • EmmettGrogan

      Already been done – they did MRI research on a number of addicts and non-addicts and found that people abused or neglected as kids, had brains that developed differently an were more prone by far to addictions, ADD and other things.
      So, yes, you are correct!

  • Arctic Wolf

    Hi one question. Why aren’t the dates adding on?

    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

    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.

  • VchatnotSpat

    The author of this article begins sentences with, But. Also, he or she writes incomplete sentences such as, “That’s not nothing”.

    The content and validity of the content was greatly overshadowed by these illiterate grammatical blunders.

    Also, I would add some advice for the “writer”, that is: you take too long to illustrate a point that the illustrations fog the content.

    • Shereen MJ

      True, I always think professional writers should hire an editor. Even if they are proficient enough to be someone else’s editor… it’s too easy to miss your own typos, etc.

      That said, never dismiss content because of typos or even grammar, or you’ll miss valuable information and insight.

      Many brilliant people on earth are not born into English speaking families. English is an excruciatingly difficult language to master. There’s still valuable information being presented by ESL people worldwide.

      However, they’re all capable of getting a quick read over by an editor if they’re publishing at a professional level.

  • Carl Textor

    This article is EXCELLENT. I’ve been saying the same thing (Or similar) for QUITE a while now. I have my California medical cannabis card and my parents seem to think I’m at risk for becoming addicted to it because my grandfather on my dad’s side was an alcoholic and apparently “addiction is passed down though the male side of the family” or whatever. While it’s not my place to question or fight my parents on that, I do agree more with this article that addiction is NOT caused by the chemical, but the person. an addict would be addicted to something, anything, whether that drug, illicit or not, even sex or gambling, which are almost worse since the chemicals that cause those feelings are created inside the body and readily accessible.

  • TM McKeny

    Sounds like she has her own addiction to addicts. “The addicts in my life…” That’s addicts, plural. Most people probably don’t associate with any addicts or maybe know of one.

    • Shereen MJ

      Most people associate with many addicts, but just don’t realize.

      It either, takes one to know one, OR it takes a trained eye to spot one.

      The more we become educated as a society and hopefully move in the direction of effectively treating addicts, vs punitively incarcerating them… You’ll find out there are more drug addicts around you than you could’ve ever imagined.

  • Jim Cressy

    Been addicted to coke speed heroin at different times in my life. Clean for 15 years. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do feel the war on drugs is a money grab for the cops, lawyers, counselors, courts etc. Take all that money and use it for treatment, may be a better way. I dont think it would hurt to try something new. We keep putting people in jail for drugs, then they cant get jobs and they go back to their old ways. Drug crimes should be completely separate from violent crimes. If You put people in mandatory detox instead of stiff sentences and felonies, might make a difference. I think its time to try something new. I’m not sure it will work, but the current method is not working and the private prisons are making quite a lot of money off of addicts as well as recreational users. Adults should be able to do what they want as far as what they choose to put in their body. I dont advocate drug abuse, but theres so much real crime going on, seems like a waist of money and time, this War on Drugs.

    • DaveSNaples

      Google: ‘Portugal Drug Policy’. Decriminalization does work compared to War On Drugs.

  • Jason Dzierzak

    This article at its conclusion couldn’t of hit the nail more squarely on its head. I myself am an addict and know first hand that being shunned by society and those closest to me never invoked a feeling of wanting to change. Having said that enabling never has either. There is a chasm of a difference between enabling and being there for someone letting them know they are loved or cared for and worth going thru whatever is necessary to pick themselves up and give life another shot. Though I do wish my mind was as simple as that of mouse. To change the cage of a mouse is far different than that of a person. Mice and animals in general navigate life on a pre-programmed set of rules otherwise known as instinct. They will always choose the safest most favorable set of conditions available to them. Humans on the other hand aren’t so predictable and fall prey to behaviors animals dont comprehend or even know of such as instant gradification, or greed, selfishness, a feeling of no self worth. I know thru first hand experience that changing the “cage” while benificial isn’t the sole answer to the problem. To be honest I don’t have an

  • Jason Dzierzak

    Sorry continuation
    I don’t have a definite answer to the problem but I do know that turning ones back isn’t the answer either. And love and or friendship, well it’s a good place to start.

  • Michael Noel Erickson

    We live in a world that creates a LOT of pain, so it’s little wonder (to me) that there are a great many people who self medicate simply to cope. While some apply certain legal “medications” (such as excessive food, hard partying and even alcohol), the physical outcomes are not terribly different from those resulting from the illegal kind. People dig a hole for themselves.

    Helping them find a way out of the hurt, and get past the post trauma symptoms that come from war, rape, bullying, overt and covert violence of all kinds would seem to be the most logical effort to expend. Punishing people who’ve generally already been punished by something frightening and overwhelming (enough so the seek to shut it off with what-ever they can lay hands on) only makes the problem worse, and is not very merciful. Especially since it could have been any one of us (and in many cases, has been some of us, so you know I speak the truth).

    While the “medicine of love” may not be the single all encompasing cure, it beats everything I’ve seen applied up to this point.

  • Marishka Noyb

    Thrill seeking behavoir and OCD do not mix

  • Loren Franks

    There is always profit in war. I got shook up yesterday when I saw senator John Mc Cain saying how he wants to arm all of Asia to stand up to China. He wants to arm and beef up Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia,Philipines and Indonesia. Vietnam is already communist. India is already nuclear. There is only one sane way to have a peaceful Earth. Take all the weapons of the world and turn them into plows. But to many people want control and wealth. To many will trade weapons and human life for money. Only by putting a moratorium on making weapons. Only by putting a moratorium on making war of any kind. As citizens demand that your government stop the war machine. Write your senators and congressmen and tell them to stop. Hopeless right? Fine then! Pay your taxes and support the war effort. Pay your taxes and support the war effort so we can have more honored disabled veterans on food stamps. Are you invested in the war macine? If you pay your taxes you are. What new fucking bozo president is going to come along and start a new war. So in retrospect was Sadam Hussein worse than Isis because if you think the war in Iraq was justified and a good war just realize that it destroyed the balance of power in Iraq and basically created a vacume of power and Isis stepped up tp bat. Do you like them? For every action there is a reaction. Law of physics. Pay your taxes and be proud you are a murderer.

  • Eve Apocalyptic

    I would just like to extended my deepest sorrow that the author of this article had to endure finding someone who had over dosed and passed, and so young. I am so sorry. I love this article.. as a recovering addict… I can tell you.. whats missing is love and connection. To self and other. Peace to you my friend xx

    • Kozou

      Good sir/ma’m, once again you’re showing the “actual” nature of addicted people: peaceful and loving people. I believe we as recovering or non-recovering drug addicts, are in all cases not loved/connected with enough. Addiction is just one of the metal “diseases” caused by our collective way of living. I feel like an extra terrestrial human, because it is simply not understood.
      Good luck and much love and kindness on your road to recovery Eve!

  • thelifeofbrian

    Addiction is a physical illness, not “emotional or moral voids”. Study the science before you express ignorant comments.

    • Wei Zhao

      Why would you even bother to comment if you don’t have something to say besides No, you’re wrong?

  • Shereen MJ

    Well it works on long term heroin addiction…so of course is illegal in the US.

  • Shereen MJ

    It depends on the personality type and the drug. Hitting rock bottom can work on many alcoholics, but not all.

    Whereas rock bottom looks very different for a meth addict… There is no rock bottom, it’s death. So if everyone in a meet addict’s life cuts ties with them and waits for their rock bottom, they’re waiting for a funeral announcement.

    That said, there’s no amount of “love” that’s going to save a meth addict either. So I agree that there’s holes in that theory. I think the author is simplifying a complicated concept. What I do agree with is moving away from a punitive model for treating addiction. If society sees addicts as mostly survivors of childhood abuse and adult PTSD, we’re more likely to find effective treatments.

    So, I think the author might be trying to suggest the loving attitude from society as a whole. I am concerned that this could be confused for individuals being emotional punching bags for addicts in their lives.

    It’s a delicate balance to navigate between keeping emotional openness to still loving an addict, but keeping behavioral boundaries to not allowing any abuse from an addict.

    Too often the complete cut off method fails, yet the stay connected model creates abuse of the loved ones. So there has to be another model of how to love an addict and be available to them, but from afar, or at least in a way that doesn’t allow abuse.

  • Shereen MJ

    Hmmm, programs in socialist countries that actually work!?!

    What a concept!
    Unfortunately the American government isn’t interested in programs nor methods that would actually work… that would slow down the corporate elite’s complete take over and rule of the peasants.

  • Shereen MJ

    There are many communities full of play and bonding available to American adults. It’s hidden and not obvious though. They’re in artists’ activities, dance, drama, music, visual arts, etc. and sports communities. Most of these activities attract open, creative types, and form huge and active social circle. However, they’re full of addicts though!!!
    So this should be studied as well. Even in dance and sports communities, you’ll find a majority who eat health food, embrace mental health, and self improvement, yet even those communities are not free of the addiction epidemic.

    So I don’t know of entirely sober playful environments unfortunately. They may not exist. Plenty of sober people do play hard in artists and athlete environments though.

  • Seb LN

    Try some Vipassana meditation retreat and you might get some answers and an experiential solution 😉

  • Steven Greene

    the best known cure for addiction, Iboagine

    • Shereen MJ

      I’ve read amazing statistics for heroin addiction and alcoholism…
      What about Meth? Do you know how meth addicts respond to iboga treatments?

  • Remko Zuidema

    Happy to be living in a country and city where addiction (of any kind) is for many decades considered a metal health problem asking for human attention. Treatment always in a social sound environment as much as possible with the goal of reentering society soon. Only discussions are on how to respond to an actual refusal to accept help (should it be voluntary or forced) and how to respond to foreigners that come for the intake only (stop or not obstruct). It will be of no surprise having the lowest number of addicts. But not having any is only possible when all have a warm and healthy upbringing. Use of personal development programs might help those involved. But still a long way to go.

  • libmotown

    Man, I love how sweet and loving the sentiments are in this article. I just wonder if the author has ever lived with an addict who will NOT stop stealing and lying and manipulating to support his/her habit. It’s hell. Pure hell.

    Also, I know a lot of addicts who began with medical treatment. I guess I wish the solution to addiction was singing them love songs and bonding with them. It’s just that at some point, everyone else’s lives matter too.

  • Anahita Aurora

    Excellent article. Thank you for sharing your personal story as well as your research. Our culture is set up to divide and conquer individuals and families on so many levels from so many directions. If we look at indigenous cultures, they are rooted in connection and community. Their lives are simpler. In the Iroquois tradition the Chief was always the “poorest” from the perspective of traditional western values, because they constantly gave to their people. But from their tradition that is a good Chief or leader; someone who puts the needs of the people first, no selfish individual concerns as this government perpetuates with its Wall Street corporatocracy. The Ketchwa in South America who train westerners in shamanic traditions make them sit in a hut for about a month to detox from our culture. It takes that long to decompress from stressors, media, delusional roles, stigmas and expectations placed upon us. Another words yes it is our culture and it is intentional to control us for the greed of the 1% and we must wake up and say no to it. We took our children out of school because they are forced into conformity and they have autism so they are naturally different and are scapegoated for their disabilities; processing delays, physical challenges etc. Now they are in a safe and loving environment 24/7 and they are healing from anxiety and panic attacks. If we help them now they won’t be turning to meds as adult to self medicate from the pain the culture has caused them. Parents need to be proactive in seeing how the culture perpetuates the denigration of our children’s self-esteem. What breaks my heart is all the kids out there who need their parents so much more than 60 hour work weeks allow. It is shameful what this government perpetrates. I almost died a few years back from terminal cancer. My husband began to self medicate and had a nervous break down. We ended up divorcing due to misunderstandings. Once I talked to him I better understood what it was like for him to witness the horror of my health crisis. We have been reconciling ever since. I have lost a few friends along the way because of my decision. But we can’t “throw” people away, as much as the culture encourages in a disposable culture! That is not the point of these challenges but to learn and grow even in crisis – or these challenges would not be given to us in the first place. We have subsequently uncovered that my husband most likely has been living undiagnosed with adhd, has debilitating food sensitivies, ptsd from my illness, a traumatic and abusive childhood, is now on STD and it is also apparent he can’t return to his job due to the unhealthy, emotionally abusive and toxic work environment he endured so many years to support his family. He can’t go back to that place and I fully support him. How many men and women are forced to endure similar situations in our culture? This is heartbreaking stuff and it doesn’t surprise me one of the top illnesses for men in this country is heart disease and for women breast cancer. This country runs on the ridiculous notion that we are automatons and we can keep putting up and shutting up, something we are indoctrinated with since childhood and reinforced in school systems. But we are divine humans and of course we will get sick from living like this. It is inhuman, to be treated like rats in sterile cages that translate to work space cubicles. We must reconnect with our sacred selves and this beautiful planet, with life in its most pure and organic state and we will recover ourselves and connection to all life. We have so much to learn from the indigenous peoples and it is why the super powers continue their assault on them.

  • David in MA

    addicts do not get “sober” alcoholics get sober, addicts get clean. Stop mixing this up as it is a way for addicts to rationalize their continuing use of drugs.

  • Carl Easley

    What works for one may not work for another.

  • ciercee

    Human beings are not rats. Human response versus rat response is not always the same. Human beings have similar physiologies but no two are exactly alike. Every person has a unique set of genes and chemical balance. I grew up in the drug culture. Drugs are often a social phenomena much like drinking alcohol or smoking cigarettes. The same chemical imbalance in the human body that can cause an addiction also causes mental illness. My personal addictions or pleasures are coffee, tea, and marijuana. Why anyone would care what my personal pleasures are is beyond me as long as I am not hurting others and I can define the line between pleasure and obsession. After 4 decades of observing human alcoholics and drug addicts my observations lead me to believe that depression and other forms of mental illness is what leads to addiction of any of life’s pleasures.

  • mind blowing article, i hardly read full articles, but i read this full

    real reason for addiction is if they have nothing to do, no purpose in life, even alchol can be deadly in such cases

  • Dawn

    I agree with this for one reason. I used to use but only when things were going horribly wrong. When things were going good I didn’t even want them. I never attended some 12 step program and did not go into rehab. I just walked away.

  • Stephanie Meyer

    This hit me so hard. Yes. Its True! I believe! The cause of addiction is disconnection! I know this to be true as I get high after feeling unaccepted by family members who push me away.

  • Eevie

    Well of course drug addiction is caused by an unhappy and unfulfilled life. We self medicate when life becomes impossible….especially the sensitive, empathic people.

  • sarah

    Congratulations on your 25 years of being clean Linda!

    I once knew an alcoholic who had been sober for 20 years and a leader in his local AA community.

    He told me once:

    “All alcoholics drink for the same reason.

    To kill the pain.”

    He told me that back in the 1980’s. After thinking of what he said and interaction with my fair share of drug addicts and alcoholics over the last 30+ years I have come to the conclusion he was correct in his assessment of alcoholics.

    Alcohol is one of the most powerful drugs of all. Every alcoholic or drug addict I have ever been close to over those 30+ years say the same thing.

    They are trying to kill either the mental, emotional, or physical pain they suffer.

    You called your pain “hart pain”.

    I truly believe the only way a person can ever say clean or sober for a possible lifetime is when the individual deals successfully with overcoming whatever is causing the pain in their lives.

  • EmmettGrogan

    Congratulations on 25 yrs! That is rare and really great that you’ve worked so hard. You’re an inspiration!

  • EmmettGrogan

    I was a drug/alcohol rehab who worked with dual diagnosis for 16 yrs. Addiction is NOT due to a “moral void”. It comes from pain, usually emotional and attachment disorder (bonding went awry during childhood). If you’re in enough emotional or physical pain, you will most likely turn to something outside yourself, usually alcohol/drugs, to kill the pain. It doesn’t work though. Addiction could happen to you yourself, given enough painful circumstances.

    • DaveSNaples

      I agree. Were you able to discover the patient’s triggers/events from their childhood that were responsible for the emotional pains that resulted in the attachment disorder. I believe these events can be imprinted starting as a newborn or even in the womb resulting in the start of the ‘attachment disorder’.

  • Joseph William

    Regarding the topic of addiction, rather it be substance or behavioral, there are almost an infinite amount of aspects that can attribute to it, and as scientists for centuries have been adamantly trying to understanding it further, the overall root and origin of such a pressing condition on humanity has been seemingly impossible to locate. As every human individual’s conscious and worldview has been accumulated differently throughout their own respective life experiences, the overall question of how and what can lead one to go down this road of dependency is so variable that the answer may just never be found.

    In Johann Hari’s essay on the subject, he brings a very provoking hypothesis to the discussion, providing a passionately written, in-depth analysis in which he concludes that his findings are the most probable answer to it all. However, as he calls for a societal changing of mind on the topic, he never touches on the free will possessed by addicts themselves. The solutions he poses are specifically directed at those who deal with drug addicts, advising that to help one through such a battle is to surround them with endless encouragement, understanding and love; condemning and shaming such a thing will only worsen their ability to overcome it. As those dealing with their own addictions would greatly benefit from the notions he poses in his article, I believe Hari could have gone even further in pointing out to addicts themselves the prominent fact that the end to one’s drug addiction will ultimately have to come from and be decided by the user themselves, not just leave it up to those around them.

    To place his professed newfound theory of addiction’s truest origin, Hari first lays out the beliefs coming from both ends of the professional spectrum. The conservative view, that addiction is a true moral failure and lack of responsibility for one’s self, greatly opposes the concepts from the liberal end, that addiction is, not only a crippling (and perhaps genetic) disease of the mind, but also a trap that only certain individuals are susceptible to, leaving them in a lifetime uphill battle. Hari explains his own conceptualization lands somewhere along the middle, suggesting the root causes are, indeed, a mixture of both. That being said, he sees that humans are responsible for their choosing of drugs and susceptibility of becoming addicted, but also that it is in no way a hopeless pit one can’t help themselves out of. Thus, Hari poses the thought that the surrounding environment humans find themselves in is one of the biggest contributing factors to their behavior and how they conceptualize their own issues.

    Through Hair’s comparisons between his findings in Rat Park and the “Rat Parks” humans finds themselves in, he lays out the concept of one’s surrounding environment—in his words: “cage”—whether it be healthy or unhealthy, and how this can heavily influence and attribute to one’s decisions. He urges those that deal with drug addicts in their own lives to support them unconditionally, surround them with love, and whether they’re able to achieve overcoming their dependences or not, never fall back on giving up and condemning for their destructive decisions.

    As Hari does give great insight for a new societal impression on drug abuse, I believe he misses out on the opportunity to personally address drug addicts themselves. Sure, the figures surrounding one’s life can help deliver that love and encouragement, but the fact remains that, in the end, the ultimate decision is up to the individual themselves. As this is not to say that a human is fully responsible for such self-destructive habits, or that others don’t have a prominent role in assisting one in quitting, but that the user must make the final move on their own; if they really have that desire to quit, they will have to eventually develop that understanding of and self-discipline over their own compulsions and behavior. To choose to abstain from the drug, to vow to discontinue such habits, to find the means and ways one’s own self can abstain—this is when it comes down specifically to the user and no one else.

    In his essay, Johann Hari really does present such a unique and original way of looking at the subject of addiction and his supposed possibilities for its truest causes; however, I believe he addressed specifically to the group of people that condemn drug addicts. As its apparent he doesn’t shame these people himself, it almost seems as if he coddles them too much, under the impression that they can’t help themselves at all. As one’s surrounding “cage” undeniably affects their behavior, as well as the fact that love and understanding pose great help to an individual, it’s indisputable that the last step to recovery must be the decision coming directly from the individual themselves. In the end, it’s their lifestyle, their understanding of their own behavior, and most importantly, the responsibility they take upon themselves to help overcome that battle.

  • greenearthman

    I’m close to 70, and take a LOT of oxycodone-the most recent demon of the drug war. Yeah, there is a slight physical addiction, but it’s not really bad. The only bad effect of running out is not being able to self-medicate for my back pain. This particular drug, in combination with a muscle relaxant, is one of the great blessings of my life. I get more and more vocal as I get older, about the need to legalize it all.(But then, I am a cranky old guy, and more vocal about a lot of things.)