Image by Genesis EcoFund: Addiction Free in a Space of Love
It’s not you. It’s your cage.“Addiction is an adaptation. It's not you. It's your cage.”~ Bruce Alexander, Professor of Psychology
You can imagine our response to reading these words in The Huffington Post’s Blog Entry “The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think,” by Johan Hari, author of Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs…
We could have told you that.
For years Genesis has advocated for reintroducing a healthy space of love into peoples’ lives by means of the incorporation of high-order rainforest ecosystems. The clinical name we gave this is Advanced Human Habitat, and after today perhaps psychologists and addiction specialists may finally take note and hear us out.
But let’s backtrack a bit.
As part of his three and a half year, 30,000 mile journey around the world in search of the real drivers of the war on drugs, Johann Hari stumbled across the likes of psychologist Bruce Alexander and physician Gabor Mate—both Canadian specialists in the field of addiction and mental health.
It was Dr. Mate who, according to Hari, first explained that despite having used the same drug for the same length of time which turns street-users into addicts, those who use elicit drugs for medical purposes simply stop once treatment is no longer required.
Hmmm…so what’s all this about the “opiate effect on the brain” and all the other stuff we’ve heard over the years about the nature of addictive substances? Surely if it’s a neurochemical phenomenon, then ANYONE exposed to “addictive substances” should get addicted. It turns out this is just not the case.
Bruce Alexander’s work suggests why. His experiments with rats showed that when kept in isolation and given a choice between drug-laced water and regular water, rats invariably become “addicted.”
However, when Professor Alexander created a “rat park” which consisted of “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,”* rats given the choice of drug-laced water and regular water simply shunned the drugs. They remained sober.
Next, after letting his test rats in the isolation cage use for 50 days (become seriously addicted), he transferred them to Rat Park and—remarkably—apart from a few withdrawal symptoms, they stopped their heavy usage and went back to living normal lives.
Although Hari seemed surprised by these results, we at Genesis are not. In his defense, Hari does make the admission and startlingly profound statement which we all need to take to heart:
“So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”*
Now, we are not ones to rat out the esteemed author and blogger whose work inspired today’s article and which we are so generously quoting from, but it’s not necessarily human connection which is lacking. Reconnecting with manic individuals and a toxic lifestyle won’t necessarily help prevent/alleviate addiction. We must understand the difference between Professor Alexander’s rat park and the rate race.
There are many people who feel isolated though they are surrounded by others. Many people are shy, or have all-out social anxiety disorder. They may feel more comfortable and at home with a good book, a pet, gardening, in nature, etc.
As a matter of fact, many individuals (ascetics, for instance) who thrive in isolation do so precisely because they “go back to nature.” Be it the lone hunter, trapper, woodsman, explorer, adventurer, castaway, etc., we are all familiar with the reality that nature provides more than enough “meaningful connection.”
Isolation is not absence of people. Isolation is an absence of love.
What human beings need is a space of love.
If we achieve that space of love through loved ones, family, friends, other positive relationships, good. But what happens when nobody’s around? Do we start having “separation anxiety?” Or, what if we don’t have the luxury or good fortune of a loving family, many friends, and positive relationships? What if our human support network is not all it’s cracked up to be? What then?
Advanced Human Habitat, with high-order ecosystems generating fields of collective harmony and symbiosis—spaces of love—can be for us what “Rat Park” was for Professor Alexander’s rats.
Advanced Human Habitat is humanity’s “nicer cage.”
A video can’t do it justice. But use your imagination.
Video: PeapodLife Living Wall EcoSystem Fitch Street – Advanced Human Habitat creates a Space of Love to help fight Addiction
Can’t you see this as a BIG STEP in the right direction toward preventing and alleviating addictions and many of the other “coping mechanism” we have for our inherently “isolated” lives?
* All Quotes in today’s blog sourced from Huffington Post “The Blog”: The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think by Johann Hari, Posted: 01/20/2015 3:20 pm EST