Rats living in comfortable enviroments avoid morphine solution

By Desertfox · Aug 10, 2009 · ·
  1. Desertfox
    [h1]Lab habits[/h1]
    Do depressed lab rats dictate international drug policy?

    Thursday 2 June 2005 00.07 BST

    Mark Pilkington

    Original article from The Gaurdian

    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?
    In 1981, Alexander built a 200sq ft home for lab rats. Rat Park, as it became known, was kept clean and temperate, while the rats were supplied with plenty of food and toys, along with places to dig, rest and mate. Alexander even painted the walls with a soothing natural backdrop of lakes and trees. He then installed two drips, one containing a morphine solution, the other plain water. This was rat heaven: but would happy rats develop morphine habits?
    Try as he might, Alexander could not make junkies out of his rats. Even after being force-fed morphine for two months, when given the option, they chose plain water, despite experiencing mild withdrawal symptoms. He laced the morphine with sugar, but still they ignored it. Only when he added Naloxone, an opiate inhibitor, to the sugared morphine water, did they drink it.

    Alexander simultaneously monitored rats kept in "normal" lab conditions: they consistently chose the morphine drip over plain water, sometimes consuming 16-20 times more than the Rat Parkers.

    Alexander's findings - that deprived rats seek solace in opiates, while contented rats avoid them - dramatically contradict our currently held beliefs about addiction. So, how might society benefit if his results were applied to human addicts? Nobody seemed to care.
    Rejected by Science and Nature, Alexander's paper was published in the obscure Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior, where it was summarily ignored.

    Two decades later, Rat Park sits empty; addiction remains a disease and the war on drugs continues.


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  1. OtherIsomer
    Very interesting.
  2. Motorhead
    Rats are very cool pets. I got a couple several months ago and have found that they are not deserving of their dirty rodent stereotype at all. They are very clean, intelligent, social, and playful animals.

    Anywho, this definately is a very interesting piece. However, I don't think that comparing any animals drug habits to human drug habits can have any diffinative conclusions in regards to the human species desire to alter its consciousness, or specific answers to the nature of addiction. I mean, despite the fact we are talking about two different species, the variables are just off the wall.

    This doesn't change the fact that policy makers will use, or suppress, any scientific evidence at their disposal to vilify drug use.
  3. coelho
    Well... even if swim is not a rat (he is more like a bunny rabbit), he can relate to this... he has a very enjoyable life (fortunately) and so has absolutely no wish to try stronger "drugs" which make one feels good (opiates, uppers, downers, etc)... for swim one hit of weed before his meditation practice is enough.

    Sometimes swim thinks about trying psychedelics (LSD, mescaline, etc), but as a tool for getting new insights about the "other worlds" (other levels of reality besides the one we usually live in), and not for pleasure or for just having fun.

    Swim thinks its worth some thinking the fact that such interesting article was rejected by respected publications... would they be more interested in keeping the "status quo" than in making science? New discoveries, even when are opposite to the usual views, must be published, reviewed by other researchers, and then accepted (or rejected if it were proven untrue). But just rejecting it seems a very biased and political/ideological attitude, and clearly a non-scientific one. What a shame...
  4. Paracelsus
    This is really old and has been covered before. UTFSE next time, especially when considering posting news.
  5. g666d
    ok, i've done three searches and not found yet... searched "pilkington" "lab rats morphine" and "rat park", probably my search skills not up to scratch... could you, pls, link?
  6. Paracelsus
  7. Space Numpty
    Very interesting article

    SWIM has kept rats for years. Most of them seemed to have the sole purpose in life of nicking SWIM's weed. SWIM's last rat used to hide under the duvet untill SWIM had put his 3-skin papers together so he could roll a J, then she would charge out, grab SWIM's papers and rip them to shreds. SWIM thinks she worked for the DEA in a former life :laugh:

    May be a slight diversion from this posts theme but SWIM recommends rats as some of the funniest pets with huge character and intelligence. Just keep them away from your stash! Oh and be prepared for them to drop dead one day. Rats are not the healthiest of creatures... highly prone to cancer and fatal lung/chest problems.
  8. g666d
    lol, one of those links is just the article, and other is thread with 3 posts and then you saying "this has been discussed before"
    what discussion?
    swim would be interested in this, if it can be found. But would have thought it would have come up in one of his searches...
  9. Paracelsus
    I noticed that as well. Faulty memory then & now.
  10. Grimfaith
    You know I find this to be very true even in humans, if you have plenty of things to do and experience with a happy environment you are less likely to make an addiction with drugs. I find it kinda dumb that the government ignores this, but maybe they dont care about the people but the money?
  11. coelho
    ^^^^ Swim thinks the government knows it is true but doesnt want we know they know it is true, because, after all, government (or more exactly, the system) is one of the greatest responsibles for people living unfulfiling and miserable lifes, which makes them crave for drugs or anything else that release them for their suffering... so we could blame the system for so many people using drugs... which is a thing they definitively does NOT want, and probably thats why they apparently dismiss such studies.
  12. Motorhead
    Human's take drugs for a myriad of reasons other than to escape from squalor or meaningless lives. What I mean is that even if someone could wave a magic wand and eliminate, or at least greatly reduce poverty and unemployment, drug use would probably remain the same. I believe altering the consciousness is an inherent human desire regardless of social status or environment.

    Would it help with addiction? Probably. But there are lots of people who are well to do who claim a vice. The human psyche is to complicated to be explained fully by the habits of rodents. I mean there are lots of rich people who have a comfortable home, lots to eat, lots of stuff and sex and find life boring and meaningless.
  13. kailey_elise
    I think it was discussed very early in this forum's existence, and perhaps the original thread was lost in the many changes & software upgrades?


  14. Canmedaa
    Someone call PETA.

    This makes sense though. If you feel a need to escape, you will. If you feel no need, why bother?

    Perhaps changes in behavior, particularly the cessation of behavior, are borne of necessity. Perhaps this works both ways.

    Very good find I think.
  15. Canmedaa
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