Pubdate: Sat, 25 Feb 2017
Source: Victoria Times-Colonist (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Times Colonist
Author: Cindy Andrew
Page: A13


Re: "Even the courageous can be caught by drugs," column, Feb. 21. As 
Geoff Johnson shared, addiction is a complex issue. His observations of 
his own experience with opioids are a testament to the fact that many 
times drugs can be helpful in our lives. And as we're reminded almost 
daily, drug use can also be incredibly harmful.

Most of us use drugs (a morning cup of coffee, a beer after work) and
do so without harm to ourselves or others. But that's not always the

Perhaps it's time to rethink our approach to addiction? "Rat Park"
refers to a scientific experiment in the late 1970s that called into
question the common understanding of addictive drugs.

Prof. Bruce Alexander and his students at Simon Fraser University
showed that living conditions, not drugs, were the issue. Our
environment greatly influences whether or not we use drugs, how much
we use, how often and where.

Maybe we should spend more time focused on fostering healthy and
supportive environments for each other - and less time on demonizing
drugs or rushing to make moral judgments of those who use.

The Centre for Addictions Research of B.C. uses "Rat Park" in some
school-based learning activities focused on helping students take
action to create environments where young people (and all) are happy,
healthy and connected.

See for more, including a short video on "Rat
Park," if curious. Contrary to popular belief, curiosity doesn't kill
the cat - but it can lead to happier, healthier rats (and people).

Cindy Andrew Victoria
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