A Different Story About Addiction

30000-mile-journeyFrom the first shots fired in the conflict on drugs in the early 20th Century, to the declaration of “war on drugs” by President Nixon in 1971, to the prescription drug epidemic crippling America today – a picture of addiction has been created in the minds of American’s that may require a jackhammer to reshape. While views about addiction vary on a broad spectrum, many people will agree that the war on drugs has not only been a failure, it has served to exacerbate the problem exponentially – cutting off millions of people from their peers.

A controversial new book, Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days of the War on Drugs, details one man’s journey to understand what causes addiction and what can be done about it. The author, Johann Hari, set out on a 30,000 mile journey to uncover the driving force of the war on drugs. What Hari uncovered, was both astonishing and may hold some of the answers to effectively treating addiction.

Over the course of his travels, Hari met with scientists, doctors, and addicts from all walks of life. Hari combed through research papers, spoke with psychiatrists and psychologists who had conducted groundbreaking experiments regarding the nature of addiction; such as, a professor of Psychology, Bruce Alexander’s, “Rat Park” experiment. What he found flew in the face of what most of us have been taught about addiction, and Hari says, “There is a very different story waiting for us, if only we are ready to hear it.”

At the end of his journey, Hari found that much of addiction plaguing people around the world stems from our connection, or rather lack of connection to other humans. He found that the insidious rise in addiction is a result of how we live – a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live. We are concerned more with material possessions than the humans right in front of us. “The writer George Monbiot has called this “the age of loneliness,” Hari writes in The Huffington Post.

“We have created human societies where it is easier for people to become cut off from all human connections than ever before. Bruce Alexander — the creator of Rat Park — told me that for too long, we have talked exclusively about individual recovery from addiction. We need now to talk about social recovery — how we all recover, together, from the sickness of isolation that is sinking on us like a thick fog.”

“So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.”

Have you read Chasing the Scream? Please share your thoughts?