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.
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?
Yes yes i know, drugs, and yes yes, double-crossed for making a point by citing a behaviourist, BUT, its such a short and well constructed argument as to how drugs in themselves are not the devil's seed, but rather the fertile soil which is alienation is what can make addiction flourish instead of it merely being a recreational activity.
I could possibly make it an interesting sob story as to why it caught my eye but i bore myself... some solid points as to why criminalization is a doomed and ignorant approach and that it serves nefarious purposes rather than "the children", etc.