Study from SFU looks at Drug Addiction and Social Isolation

The current prevailing idea of addiction largely comes from 70's lab experiments that supported the notion that drugs are scary and powerful and that any one of us could become addicted through mere exposure. 

But scientists and psychologists now consider this notion to be too simplistic and research from SFU supports theories of the complexity of addiction.

Psychologist Bruce Alexander at SFU suspected that previous experiments involving rats and drug use, which found that given the choice rats would chose drugs to food and water even at the cost of dying, did not take into account the social isolation the rats experienced during the experiment.

To test the effects of social isolation on drug use among rats, Alexander built an enriched social environment where rats could socialize and play and compared the rats intake of morphine from intake of rats kept in isolation. Not surprisingly they found that rats in the social environment avoided the use of drugs and preferred socializing with other rats and that those in isolation used more morphine presumably due to the stress of isolation.

Stuart McMillen's RAT DRUG PARK COMIC beautifully illustrates the studies and their implications.