This is the first of a three part series exploring the debate around legalization of marijuana and decriminalization of all drugs.
“Everything you think you know about addiction is wrong” is a TED talk by Johann Hari. It has become pretty popular, it’s been viewed over 2.9 million times since it’s filming in June of this year. Hari is a journalist who set out to understand addiction, he spent 3 years and shares many of his findings in this video.
Mr. Hari argues that drug addiction is caused by a lack of connection. He explains that there is a general understanding that if you try heroine, or some other drug, you will become an addict and use until you die. He explains that this idea comes from a study done with rats, a rat was isolated in a cage with two options for water, normal and heroine laced. The rat would drink the heroine water until it died, and rather quickly too.
Johann Hari explores another study that has been done since then. Rats were put in “rat heaven” with all the friends, toys, and food they could want. Hardly any of the rats drank the heroine water, and if they did it was sparingly. Johann Hari has decided that people are open to addiction only when they do not have a full life of positive pursuits and supportive people. He surmises that it’s a lack of connection that fuels addiction. People need connections, and if we don’t have positive healthy ones we turn to unhealthy ones, like drugs or smartphone overuse.
I agree with a lot of what he says, it makes sense. It also changes the way I view addicts. It gives me compassion for those that have turned to drugs to feel connected in our world. It also brings up some warnings for the society that we are immersed in, one of little real physical connection but loads of pseudo-connection through electronics.
Johann Hart’s calls for a new approach to drugs. His plan is to legalize all drugs by creating different policies in the US, like were done in Portugal. He outlines Portugal’s actions of legalizing all drugs and then taking the money that the government used to use on prosecuting addicts and use it to rehabilitate addicts, find them work and houses and reasons to get up in the morning.
This is one side of the drug debate, in the second post in this series I’ll share an opposing view.
You can watch his TED talk on Youtube or at the TED website here: (https://www.ted.com/talks/johann_hari_everything_you_think_you_know_about_addiction_is_wrong?language=en).