A researcher in the late 1970’s performed a study he called “Rat Park”, where:

  1. Rats were put in painful living conditions: isolated into cages 
  2. Caged rats were given the choice of opioid-laced water and plain water 
  3. Caged rats chose the opioid water at very high doses – foregoing food & water – sometimes to the point of death

This fits with our mindset: if life is difficult and painful, we might choose to not be present. 

There is a second part to this study:

  1. Opioid-addicted rats were then placed into “Rat Park”, a paradise for rats: spacious, comfortable, natural setting, with many rats of both sexes living together, nesting, and reproducing.
  2. Rats in Rat Park were offered the same choice between opioid-laced water and plain water
  3. The rats chose plain water, even when experiencing withdrawal symptoms
  4. The researchers sweetened the opioid-laced water to appeal further to the rats, but it did not attract their attention

The Rat Park Experiment has been reproduced in multiple studies. The results are clear: environmental enrichments protect against relapse in rats. 

If someone seeks to be in recovery from addiction, are they offered a version of “Rat Park” for themselves? Does a “Human Park” exist?

It doesn’t seem that way. Even if you find a good treatment provider, society does not make it easy to get help with:

  • Creating a new social life
  • Pursuing new interests or activities
  • Employment
  • Housing
  • Finances
  • Legal issues
  • Mental health & prior trauma

If returning to sobriety means a return to the struggles in life, then it is hardly the end of recovery. It is the beginning.

That’s our focus with Kemet: to new beginnings!