[ExI] Are hard drugs not really addictive after all?

BillK pharos at gmail.com
Sun Jun 7 19:17:07 UTC 2009

The predominant model of drug addiction views it as a disease: humans
and animals will use heroin or cocaine for as long as they are
available. When the drugs run out, they will seek a fresh supply; the
drugs, not the users, are in control.

These conclusions, repeated frequently by politicians and the media,
are based on experiments carried out almost exclusively on animals,
usually rats and monkeys, housed in metal cages and experiencing a
particularly poor quality of life. What would happen, wondered
psychologist Dr Bruce Alexander, then of British Columbia's Simon
Fraser University, if these animals were instead provided with a
comfortable, stimulating environment?

Alexander found that the rats stopped drinking the morphine immediately.
He has written a book about drug addiction.

He told the Canadian Senate in 2001 that prior experiments in which
laboratory rats were kept isolated in cramped metal cages, tethered to
a self-injection apparatus, show only that "severely distressed
animals, like severely distressed people, will relieve their distress
pharmacologically if they can."


Even Oprah is getting in on this.
they spend many hours playing roles that don't match their innate
personalities and preferences, dulling the pain with mood-altering
substances. Miserable with their jobs, relationships, or daily
routines, they gulp down a fifth of Scotch, buy 46 commemorative Elvis
plates on QVC, superglue phony smiles to their faces, and head on out
to whatever rat race is gradually destroying them.

So, is drug taking just a coping mechanism for people with really
desperate life circumstances?

The monkeys in cages killing themselves with drugs has led futurists
to speculate that transhumans will wirehead themselves into oblivion
because they will be unable to resist the overwhelming pleasure. This
is proposed as one explanation for the Fermi problem. But if this
research is correct, then that won't happen. If our future lives are
pleasant and fulfilling, then wireheading will just be an occasional
pleasure and not a life-threatening addiction.


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