To fully understand the problem posed by the legalization of cannabis, one has to understand the underlying issue: addiction.
When a person is addicted, he or she is completely subjugated by their addiction and experiences a total loss of control and freedom. Addicted individuals cannot stop themselves from consciously perpetuating unwanted behavior that adversely affects them and the people around them.
Through the experiences and life stories recounted in our blog, we will try to understand addiction.
The Two Faces of Drug Addiction
Without my consent, I was personally and quickly propelled into the world of drug addiction. For over 15 years, I had been suffering from a panic disorder that splattered my days with anxiety attacks, making my life hellish. Nausea, vertigo, heart palpitations, abdominal pain, the feeling of dying… The symptoms resembled those of a heart attack, and I was forced to avoid any situation that could bring them on.
I took the first pills because I wanted to live, be happy and flee from my mental pain. It’s only once I was addicted that I understood that while this pill allowed me to find relief and feel better, it was destroying my life. But it was too late: the drug had become the centre of my life, and the only solution to get out of my pain.
The Rat Park Study: Gaining a Better Understanding of Addiction
Bruce K. Alexander, a Canadian psychologist, led the Rat Park Study in 1978, thereby revolutionizing how addiction was understood. Just like us, rats are a social species, and they crave being in contact and communicating with their peers. And just like rats would, people isolated in a narrow, confined space would show little hesitation in using a narcotic substance freely supplied to them to counter boredom, loneliness, or more broadly, living conditions that are contrary to their well-being.
Alexander and his team built a park big enough to house 16 to 20 male and female rats. It was set up like a play park, a mini rat paradise complete with play wheels and balls, food, and space for mating. Several theories based on the hypothesis that the environment plays a key role in addiction were tested using four groups of rats.
Are We All Equal in the Face of Addiction?
Making the bad decision to do drugs does not necessarily lead to addiction, but addiction definitely leads to making all the bad decisions.
I always thought becoming a drug addict could only happen to others. I became one myself fairly late, at about 35 year-old, having never taken any drugs or alcohol in my life. In fact, I was terrified of all drugs, of their ability to rob people of their self-control. I was a very anxious person to begin with, so taking drugs and running the risk of becoming an addict was outright unthinkable. I genuinely thought I’d be forever safe.
Recent questions about caring for young adults battling drug and alcohol addiction are changing mindsets about where these young people belong in social and health services. Portage considered this matter and has now extended its adolescent program in Eastern Quebec to cater to young adults aged 18 to 21 as of March 2021. The New… Read more »
There is a strong connection between addiction and mental health disorders and the two are often mutually sustaining. People with this dual diagnosis often have to contend with a lack of available resources, a slow-moving system, and isolation. An Overstretched System On March 3, 2020, the Ontario Health Minister announced an unprecedented 25-million-dollar investment to… Read more »
Stories like Caroline’s are at the core of what we do at Portage. We are proud to share her story and to encourage other residents to share theirs. *Names are fictional for privacy. What lead you to start taking drugs and drinking, and why? I started drugs by wanting to escape my emotions from being… Read more »