Rats with an intense social life do not become drug addicts.

Between 1950 and 1975 many studies had shown that rats that have had morphine previously administrated become addicted to the drug, since later on they choose to drink a morphine solution when water is also available.

Bruce Alexander had a problem with those studies as those rats had been kept in “small, solitary metal cages” which, he thought, could influence the results. He therefore designed a Rat Park: an open-topped cage with sawdust on the floor and multiple toys (including a climbing pole) and friends to play with (see image).

He performed experiments to test morphine addiction in rats that had been either isolated or living in Rat Park and saw that social rats did not become addicted to morphine. He concluded that it was the “spatial confinement, social isolation, and stimulus deprivation” what made them drug addicts rather than the drug itself.

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