#7 Social Support and Addiction

The studies Dr. D’Haeseleer mentioned in class are the Rat Park studies, which suggest that drug addiction might be the result of social isolation instead of the cause of it. Endorphins act as the neurotransmitters that cause the feelings of well-being and reduce pain. They are naturally released when people are under stress, pain or intense exercise and some drugs interfere with this process. When people are deprived of social support or isolated by society, the level of the chemicals that are naturally released decreases. Therefore, some people choose to use drugs to feel better. However, the mental stigmas of drug addictions make it more difficult for many people who are addicted to drugs to form healthy relationships, creating more barriers for them to stop using drugs.

Andrew also brought up the social isolation in his presentation as a factor that contributed to women’s addiction to opium. Some men encouraged their concubines to smoke opium in order to gain further control over them, and some women themselves, due to the traditional female virtues, were isolated from society and used opiums as a way out, which is consistent with the results of the Rat Park studies. Thus contributing to the prevalence of opium use among women at that time.

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