A researcher in the late 1970’s performed a study he called “Rat Park”, where:
- Rats were put in painful living conditions: isolated into cages
- Caged rats were given the choice of opioid-laced water and plain water
- 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:
- 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.
- Rats in Rat Park were offered the same choice between opioid-laced water and plain water
- The rats chose plain water, even when experiencing withdrawal symptoms
- 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
- 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!