The True Cause of Drug Addiction

Prof. Arnold Guloy, also an alumnus of Manila Science High School, brought to my attention with his Facebook post an article posted last year on the Huffington Post. The article, "The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think", talks mainly of the work by Prof. Bruce Alexander on rats. In "The effect of housing and gender on preference for morphine-sucrose solutions in rats", published in 1978 in the journal Psychopharmacology, Alexander and coworkers found that "isolated rats drank significantly more of the opiate solution, and females drank significantly more than males." More than thirty years later, researchers in Israel, arrived at a similar conclusion. In "Social isolation increases morphine intake: behavioral and psychopharmacological aspects", Raz and Berger found that "rats housed in short-term isolation (21 days) consumed significantly more morphine solution (0.5 mg/ml) than rats living in pairs, both in one-bottle and in two-bottle tests." These studies support the "Dissociation Theory of Addiction", which Alexander describes with the following elements:
  • People can be addicted to innumerable habits and pursuits. Addiction has no special connection with drugs and alcohol.
  • People who are living as addicts are exercising as much willpower as anybody else.
  • Various genes have measurable effects on the likelihood of addiction in various situations. None of the known genetic effects comprise a predisposition to addiction
  • Rather than a disease or a moral failing, addiction is a way that some people adapt to severe dislocation. People often change their ways of adapting during their lifetimes.
  • Most addicted people get over their addictions on their own. Professional treatment and self-help groups are only marginally effective in helping those that do not.
  • In modern times, most addiction arises because of the dislocation caused by fragmented societies. In fragmented societies, addiction leaves few people untouched.
  • Science is only one of the ways of investigating addiction. History, philosophy, economics, and social science are equally important. Advocates of the Official View have used the prestige of science to create an illusion of correctness and certainty.
  • Medical treatment cannot substantially reduce addiction, because addiction is best understood as a form of adaptation, rather than a disease. Subduing the current flood of addiction will require social change.
Another article, a recent one, on Huffington Post calls on newly elected Philippines president Duterte to stop the drug war. Anthony Papa writes:
The methods used by President Duterte in fighting crime and curbing problems associated with the drug war in the Philippines are totally insane. To take human lives in the name of justice is despicable. It is hoped that they do not catch on and spread to other countries and Duterte comes to his senses before more tragedy occurs. It’s one thing to be smart on crime, but another, to be totally ignorant about it.
Sadly, Duterte simply doubles down on his approach:

Above copied from The Huffington Post

Focusing merely on the supply side to solve the drug addiction problem totally disregards the "Dissociation Theory of Addiction". "Addiction is a way that some people adapt to severe dislocation". People need to belong. This is the demand side of the drug addiction problem. It seems that the Philippines is also tackling a problem without understanding it first. This is no different when the country chose to revise its basic education curriculum to address the ills of its schools. When schools are failing, the curriculum is the least likely cause. 

When drug abuse is becoming rampant, the drug pusher is merely answering to the demand. The problems of drug addiction and basic education are rooted more deeply in society.