Rat Park: A New Way To Look At Addiction


Do you feel like a rat trapped in a cage?  Are you living in Tennessee or a nearby state?  Have you considered escaping your cage to the comfort of a Tennessee rehab?  If you go to a good Tennessee rehab it will mean that you are able to get treatment for your addiction.  Tennessee rehab centers are located across all of Tennessee. 

What was Rat Park?

Rat park was a series of experiments conducted in that late 1970s.  The experiments were designed to look at the nature of addiction.

The experiments came about as Bruce K. Alexander, one of the scientists who conducted the experiments, was thinking about the nature of tests which scientists regularly ran on the self-administration of morphine.  In the tests, rats were kept in small cages, and were by themselves.

Alexander believed that these conditions were causing the rats to either self-administer the morphine when they would not otherwise, or cause them to give themselves more than they usually would have.

To test his idea, Alexander and the rest of the scientists who were conducting the experiment built something which they dubbed "rat park".  This park was a colony that was 200 times the area that rats would normally have in self-administration experiments.

What were the conditions?

Within the colony the rats had access to abundant food and toys to play with.  There were also rats of both genders so that the rats could mate.

In the experiments it was found that the environment which the rats were in played a crucial part in whether or not they became addicted.  Interestingly, it was found that when rats that had become addicted to the morphine through self-administration when they were in normal cages then became "de-addicted" when transferred to rat park.

Why is this important? While rats are obviously very different to humans, rats are often used in laboratory experiments where humans may not be used.  From the data collected in the "Rat Park" experiment we can hypothesize that it is possible that humans might also respond in the same way, becoming addicted when they are living in an unpleasant environment and becoming unaddicted when they are living in a more pleasant environment.

So, what did we learn?

This idea has many real-world applications.  Think about the town planner who is attempting to lower rates of crime.  He may already know that crowded and stressful environments can increase rates of crime, but armed with the information that these environments can also increase the rates of addiction just by people being in these stressful environments, he may factor in more weight to designing more pleasant environments when he is at the planning stage.

This might, too, be a factor in the decision-making a recovering addict who is deciding whether to stay in the area where he or she was using so that they can save money, or move to a nicer area.  It is not just that the less pleasant environment that they had been living in contains within it some of the triggers that might keep them addicted, it is also the stressful nature of the environment that could cause relapse.

It is worth noting that environment is not the only cause of addiction, and there are many other factors that should be taken into account when thinking about addiction.

Other factors which play a part in addiction

Parenting styles can play a big part in addiction.  Whether a parent or pair of parents was able to parent effectively has a massive impact on the chances of a child growing up to be a drug addict.  It is important than when children are growing up that they are in a supportive and loving environment, and that there is a consistency in this.  An environment where love is shown and then withdrawn can be even more damaging that an environment where love is not shown atall.

The way that your society is designed plays a role in addiction too.  If you are in a society that is uncaring and is dominated by the pursuit of material goods, this can have the effect of making the people within that society feel empty, which can use them to drink or take drugs to mask these feelings of emptiness.

Genetics: Do we stand a chance?

Genetics can also play a part in susceptibility of addiction.  Those who have family members who have alcohol or drugs problems would do well to be careful when they are drinking or taking drugs, as have family members who have these problems increases the risk of becoming addicted.


Trauma plays a big part in addiction, and is often the catalyst to drug addiction.  This could be childhood trauma, but it might also be trauma experienced as an adult.  Many soldiers develop PTSD when they are in a warzone, and becoming addicted as a result of the trauma that they experienced while they were fighting.

Are you thinking of rehab?  Nashville is a decent choice.  If you go to rehab, Nashville has an abundance of rehab centers where you can consider yourself out of the “war on drugs”.  Of course while there are other cities in Tennessee where you can go to rehab, Nashville is one that you should consider.