Rat Park drug experiment comic by Stuart McMillen. The Hermit lantern – Led Zeppelin cartoon.
Drawing girl party looking at drug pill. Cartoon demon ghost inside drug. Our understanding of addiction...our understanding of drugs is built on many assumptions. One of the biggest assumptions is that drugs are seductively addictive...with drug addiction caused by mere exposure to these bewitching substances.
Cartoon rat surgery. Drawing tube in jugular vein. Rats inside cage rack black and white. In the 1950s and 60s, the scientific 'proof' came from rat experiments. The rats were surgically connected to self-injection apparatus...put into isolated cages...and taught to self-administer drugs by pressing a lever inside the cage.
Cartoon rat inside Skinner Box. Drawing of caged rat pressing lever. The researchers watched as the caged rats self-injected powerful psychoactive drugs. Dominated by their habits, some of the rats would choose drug injections in preference to food and water. Killing themselves through neglect.
Cartoon researchers comparing notes. Worried male scientists with paper. The implications were bleak and worrying. It seemed that drugs were capable of ruinous harm to individuals' self-control...and if drugs were available to people as freely as they were to the lab rats...mass-addiction and social crisis would be the certain result.
Cartoon Professor Bruce Alexander holding rat. Professor Bruce Alexander thought differently. He wondered how much insight into human addiction could be gathered by studying rats. He wondered how much insight could be gathered by studying rats in solitary confinement.
Comic book rats inside cage. Cartoon man inside cell, drug experiment. Descended from wild Norway Rats, albino lab rats remain curious, gregarious social creatures...so the sensory deprivation of the classical drug experiments must have been akin to torture. Alexander wondered if he too would retreat into a drugged haze, if locked in a box and given no other option.
Cartoon scientists in Ghostbusters costumes with lantern drawing. In 1977, Prof. Alexander assembled a team of Simon Fraser University researchers. Bruce Alexander. Barry Beyerstein. Robert Coambs. Patricia Hadaway. The team decided to repeat the classical rat-drug studies...but with some crucial differences.
Low angle cartoon man picking up syringe. Drawing cartoon opening dungeon door. Their experiment would test the power of drug addiction using morphine...a close cousin to the notoriously 'irresistible', 'life-destroying' heroin. The team ventured bravely into the dark domain of drug addiction, wondering what they would find.
Cartoon isometric view laboratory rat cage rack. The researchers took over a large room within the university and began preparing a carefully-controlled experiment. In one part of the room they placed an array of standard wire mesh cages (18 x 25 x 18cm). The metal cage walls would isolate these rats, preventing them from touching or seeing each other.
Cartoon isometric view carpentry workshop. Wooden box drawing. In the other part of the room, the researchers constructed a large plywood enclosure. Measuring 8.8m², the enclosure had over 200x the area of the standard laboratory cages.
High angle drawing rat enclosure. Cartoon rats, cans, running wheels. The researchers painted the walls with scenes of woodlands, and natural environments. They covered the floor with fragrant cedar shavings to nest in...and gave the rats boxes and cans to hide and play in.
Cartoon Rat Park researchers high angle laboratory cages. Importantly: the researchers gave the rats other rats to play, fight, mate, and interact with. Satisfied they had created a rodent paradise...they named the enclosure 'Rat Park'...and began experimenting on the rats.
Female scientist holding lab rat drawing. Cartoon rat inside cage, researcher looking in. 32 rats (16 male / 16 female) were randomly assigned into isolated cages, or colony housing in Rat Park. The researchers gave both groups of rats the choice of two liquids...and measured their intake.
Cartoon cage rats drinking from tubes, black and white drawing. Days 1-5: The team learned that both groups of rats loved sugary fluids (a sucrose syrup)...and hated bitter fluids (a non-drugged quinine solution). Days 4-8: The researchers also tested both groups' taste for the bitter-sweetness of a non-drugged quinine-sucrose solution.
Cartoon Rat Park rats high angle feeding tubes. Now understanding the rats' taste buds, the researchers began trying to seduce the rats into drinking morphine. (Morphine: an opiate drug similar to heroin.) Wondering if the rats would avoid the drug because of its bitter taste, the team 'sweetened the deal'...adding various ratios of sugar to tempt the rats into drinking the morphine.
Low angle cartoon Ghostbusters scientists grabbing jar. Sugar water / morphine. The researchers 'stepped down' the mixtures every 5 days. Gradually transforming the bitter narcotic fluid into a sweeter, but nonetheless drugged brew. Alexander and team keenly observed how much the rats would tolerate this bad taste in order to experience the effects of the morphine drug. Would the two groups of rats consume the drugs at different rates?
Lab rats rack high angle drawing. Cartoon Rat Park rat cages. Days 9-13: At first, all rats avoided the extremely bitter morphine-sugar solutions...but as the researchers lowered the morphine, the rats began to experiment with the sweeter fluids. The isolated cage rats began drinking the morphine (Days 14-18) far earlier than the Rat Park rats...and in much higher volumes: cage consumption was up to 19x higher than Rat Park at certain dosages.
Cartoon high angle view Rat Park rats and cage racks. While the caged rats seemed happy to drift into a drugged haze...the Rat Park rats resisted. The freely-available morphine went largely untouched within Rat Park...with the rats seemingly preferring a social life uninterrupted by the morphine's effects.
Black and white rat close-up drawings. Rat Park running wheel cartoon. The researchers upped the sugar...and the caged rats slipped further into their narcosis. But still the Rat Park rats avoided the freely available morphine. Rat Park's consumption rose, but remained a fraction of their isolated neighbours.
Cartoon Rat Park researchers watching rats high angle drawing. Finally, Alexander's team tipped the sugar/drug ratio to a cocktail that none of the rats could resist. The rats which had avoided the heavily-drugged brews began drinking the sweet syrup with 'light' narcotic content. The researchers were confident the rats had been avoiding the effects of the drugs, not the taste.
Cartoon researcher Robert Coambs holding morphine bottle rat cages drawing. In a side-experiment, the team found that rats' aversion to morphine-sugar water could be reversed by adding Naltrexone to the liquid. The additive worked as an antidote to the morphine: counteracting the effects of the drugs, while sparing the sugary taste. The rats would lap up previously-avoided drug mixes spiked with Naltrexone...learning that drinking would no longer dull their senses.
Another Rat Park experiment tested the 'addictive' nature of opiates from the opposite direction. Rather than trying to tempt the rats into voluntarily beginning morphine habits...the researchers deliberately made junkies out of the rats, and then watched what happened when given choice again.
Rats running in wheels drawing. Cartoon demon ghosts above rats. The researchers were testing the 'withdrawal symptoms' of drug dependence...a notion which suggests that the physiological effect of quitting opiate use is so unbearable that users cannot stop their drug habits.
Cartoon researchers adjusting Rat Park experiment equipment. The researchers took 32 new rats...(10 in isolation, 22 in Rat Park)...and put them on a fluids regime designed to produce physical tolerance and physical dependence in each and every rat.
Low angle cartoon rats inside wire mesh cages. On most days, the rats were given no fluids besides drugged morphine-water. The team punctuated the experiment with nine 'choice days': days where the rats could choose between water, or morphine-water. Would the habituated rats choose the water, or the drugs?
Black and white cartoon rat inside cage, researcher looking in. The results showed clear trends across the 'choice days': The isolated rats continued their morphine stupor and actually increased their intake over the 'choice days'. The story across the room, in Rat Park was different. Though physically dependent on morphine, the Rat Park rats decreased their drug use on ‘choice days’. Withdrawal symptoms were noted in the twitchy rats. Yet still the Rat Park rats avoided the morphine.
Cartoon rat family twitching Rat Park drug experiment. Both groups of rats were physically dependent on the morphine, yet behaved in different ways. To Alexander and team, the Rat Park rats were choosing to endure the morphine withdrawal symptoms...deliberately trying to return to a social life not disrupted by the drugs. A ‘normal’ social life unavailable to the caged rats.
Drawing Ghostbusters scientists holding cartoon lanterns, torches, flashlights. Bruce Alexander and his colleagues ran multiple experiments within Rat Park. Together the team swept their searchbeams across dark corners at the foundations of drug addiction theory...trying to corner and confront the evidence at the heart of the arguments to criminalise drug use.
Cartoon ghosts demons flying away from bright light. Trapped in the scrutinising glare of the researchers’ spotlights...the basic fears behind drug prohibition arguments looked a lot less scary. The Rat Park studies were part of a turning tide of evidence away from boogeyman tales of ‘demonic drugs’...toward a more nuanced understanding of drugs and addiction.
Cartoon Bruce Alexander man sitting in office at writing desk. Prof. Alexander noted three common threads from the Rat Park experiments: I : Despite the addictive 'demon drug' reputation of heroin...the researchers had to strongly coax the rats into taking drugs. Far from it being an irresistible poison...sugar, forced-habituation and isolation were essential to make the rats want to drink the morphine.
Cartoon rats drawing. Led Zeppelin II cover parody. Led Zeppelin III black and white comic art. II : Given the chance to live in a ‘normal’ society with comfortable housing and social contact...the rats living in Rat Park had little appetite for opiate drugs. III : Chemical addiction was not the strongest factor influencing the rats’ habits. Rather than becoming identically spellbound by addiction...the rats’ drug-taking varied with physical, mental and social setting.
Man through door window drawing. Led Zeppelin IV cover art parody. Houses of the Holy black and white cartoon cover. Rat Park room: Decommissioned. The university cancelled the research funding in 1982...the plywood was sawn up into pieces...the rats were taken from their paradise...and the researchers found other projects.
Bruce Alexander walking along street drawing. Cartoon Physical Graffiti parody Led Zeppelin album cover. Bruce Alexander was wary of overgeneralising the findings of Rat Park...and making the same mistakes of the 1960s rat researchers, who applied their self-injection findings to humans.
Man sitting at table high angle drawing. Black and white cartoon parody Led Zeppelin Presence album cover. Yet, he remained haunted by the study's findings. What was it about 'Rat Park', which allowed its residents to avoid addiction, despite drugs being readily available?
Comic art In Through the Out Door cover art parody. Cartoon John Bonham barkeeper black and white drawing. What was it about the cages, which prompted the rats to lose themselves in drug consumption? Would humans need to be locked in a cage to feel the same way? Or are there other types of isolation which might lead to addiction?
Cartoon Vancouver Harbour Centre low angle black and white drawing. Man passing homeless man sitting on street. Bruce Alexander's work moved beyond the world of rats...to the world of people...but was shadowed by a question lingering from the Rat Park experiments:
Cartoon Vancouver skyline long distance panorama. Black and white drawing man crossing road: Bruce Alexander. What if the difference between not being addicted and being addicted...was the difference between seeing the world as your park...
Cartoon homeless man pushing shopping cart black and white drawing. ...and seeing the world as your cage.

Support the artist

More information about the Rat Park drug addiction experiments:
 • The making of Rat Park: extra information about the real-life experiments
 • Globalization of Addiction: the post-Rat Park research of Bruce Alexander
 • My Drug Period: lessons learnt from researching War on Drugs & Rat Park
 • 10,000 / 1,500 / 15: my personal experiences with responsible drug use

  1. George says:

    Coming from a history of addiction myself, I’ve definitely viewed the world as a cage or a prison for most of my life, since long before I took any drugs.

  2. aurore says:

    Awesome!!!!
    best way to present science , ever!!!

  3. caleb says:

    Absolutely beautiful. Great job.

  4. Matthew says:

    Wonderful illustration.

    For those interested in a well-researched paper on the social factors in addiction, see http://www.cfdp.ca/roots.pdf

  5. prometheus says:

    interesting comic, thank you. the problem here is that addiction might not occur when times are good, but if confronted with aversive conditions (e.g. cages), would the rat park rats resort to opiate addiction? i bet they would, and at a faster rate than opiate naive rats. conversely, after being addicted, what pattern of use would be seen in rats who had been in cages and subsequently returned to the rat park? i think they could never return to normal “rat life” and would resort to addiction at even the slightest drug cue or aversive situation. i think addiction is far more subtle and insidious than people think, but once it occurs, your brain, hedonic response to “natural” pleasures and how you deal with negative situations is never the same again.

  6. Nat Turner says:

    Being a past alcoholic I understand it. I was reminded of the distasteful taste of beer before I became a full fledged alcoholic. And the comparison to humans is like looking in a mirror. Shouldn’t this be taught in schools sometime before they are turned loose on the world? How else will the world ever wake up?

  7. gen kan says:

    absolutely amazingly told story

  8. Dr. Richard Wilmot Ph.D. says:

    I use this all the time in my drug classes!

    Viewing intoxication as a biological inevitability gives us a better understanding of how drug use differs from drug abuse. Such use is not necessarily immoral or pathological but natural. Much like sex, drug use for humans is a natural drive. Everyone has a need to alter their consciousness and they will do so even at their own peril… from sky diving to smoking “crack” cocaine. The challenge for society is to address this biologically based need to “alter consciousness” in safe, non-abusive ways that will provide people with the “peak experiences” they universally crave. Furthermore, there is a non-abusive code for “getting high” that can be learned so that people who drink or take other drugs do not end-up embarrassed , sick, dependent or dead.

    Why is intoxication coaching necessary? Getting ‘high’ in our culture has been taboo since puritan pilgrim times and so very rarely is it a topic in polite conversation. It’s not discussed. It’s no wonder people call themselves Addicts as they strive for the high they seldom attain. But it’s not their fault. It’s cultural. They have not been educated in anything else but prohibition and total abstinence.

  9. Lynn says:

    Fantastic experiment. Provides strong evidence that addiction is a biopsychosocial process…

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  11. Federico says:

    Great comic. I feel really sad for the rats, I strongly mean it. Kind of animal lover, do not like to know they suffer in this kind of experiments, specially when they are so nice looked-faces in this comic. Hope time and thinkig can teach that animal experimentation should be finished, not even for the sake of medicine should we torture animals. They feel far more than we imagine, and suffer a lot with human behaviour. Just my point of view.-
    Great comic, Stuart. Again I say I like it, your drawing is awesome.-

  12. Pingback: Rat Park: A Comic About Drug Addiction

  13. kurokikaze says:

    That was something to think about. Thanks :)

    (btw may I suggest turning arrow page navigation off when focus is on the text field? It’s not very comfortable to edit your comment when page scrolls instead of moving the cursor in the field)

  14. I'd like to remain anonymous says:

    I love this comic so much. It completely rendered my thoughts of what addiction was useless, very inquisitive! I wish I wasn’t a minor so i could have an easier time donating to the author! :(

  15. test2 says:

    I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my
    own weblog and was curious what all is required to get setup?
    I’m assuming having a blog like yours would cost a
    pretty penny? I’m not very web savvy so I’m not 100%
    certain. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Many
    thanks

  16. Bertelsen. Ole. says:

    Honour to these scientists!

  17. Pingback: We can’t ignore the social aspects of substance use, addiction and treatment | IRETA Blog

  18. Pierre Clouthier says:

    I wanted to leave $4.00 but couldn’t change the amount.

  19. Jono says:

    Is it true? I hope so, but a shame that little has come of it or that the research is so little known.

    Nicely done.

  20. Kevin Nauss says:

    I think you just changed my life. Thank you.

  21. Pingback: What Is Skepticism For? The Case for Skeptic Activism against The War on Drugs. - Shane's Soapbox

  22. Ernesto says:

    Ah, such a good depiction of such an interesting research!
    Thanks a lot for this!

  23. X says:

    Very informative, and haunting conclusion.

  24. Doris says:

    Thank you for creating this visual!

  25. Rob Parkinson says:

    This is great – informative, so well explained. And great drawing too! This is going to be really useful in my (Human Givens) therapeutic work. Very many thanks.

  26. RosemaryThomson says:

    Wonderful.

  27. Miles says:

    Thanks Stuart for creating this brilliant representation of a really important bit of research. This story is used often to illustrate the human givens hypothesis about addiction, which is that people only become vulnerable to addictions (to substances and activities) when their innate emotional (bio-psycho-social) needs are not met in the course of leading their lives. The human givens organising ideas provide a very powerful & useful way of answering the question posed at the end of this excellent cartoon: http://www.hgi.org.uk/archive/addiction.htm.

  28. Crystal Williams says:

    This was simply amazing.

  29. Atle Beckmann says:

    Great comic, thank you.
    Maybe someone mentioned him allready, but do you know of the work Dr. Gabor Maté has done and is doing? His website is here; http://drgabormate.com

  30. Emmanuel Lugo says:

    Really good. Made me think allot!

  31. EndCiv.com says:

    Every city is a cage.
    Richard Manning on the Psychosis of Civilization
    youtube.com/watch?v=d5iBOXcoP_8

  32. donna says:

    Fabulous!!!! Is this why they shut down all social programs in the 1980s and drop crack in poor neighborhoods? Kind of like what we did to the native Americans before that.

  33. Assa says:

    Sorry, Paypal is a criminal enterprise. Got to support otherways.

  34. Pingback: Rats, Drugs and Free-Range Kids : Free Range Kids

  35. astra jimmy says:

    wow!
    that is so revealing. Nacotics Anonymous is like rat park…lots of socialising, sex and cedar-scented floorboards in church halls.

  36. Laurent says:

    Very very interesting comic but to use it with french student, I need a french version. Does it exist ?

  37. Boy says:

    A great comic, really gives a different and informative light towards drug addiction world.

  38. Rahul says:

    Awesome… extremely good..!!

  39. Sophia says:

    Superb ..and moving, interesting to see that given the chance (when the choice is there) in positive environment, rats and i believe it extends to people, will strive for life. Also we see the vital need of our brains to be stimulated adequately and adequately = living exchange and communication and therefore the need for social exchange and connection to nature (our roots).

  40. Randall says:

    Hi there, just became alert to your blog through Google, and found that it
    is truly informative. I am gonna watch out for brussels.
    I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. Lots of people will be benefited from your writing.

    Cheers!

  41. Pingback: 2014-031 – Rat park :et si les causes profondes de l’addiction étaient volontairement ignorées ? | Un jour Une idée

  42. Jonny says:

    Great comic! Really makes you think how powerful outlook is in living a healthy lifestyle.

  43. Pingback: Altered States and the Brain | Sarah Hillenbrand

  44. Iri says:

    great work. it shows how sequential art can actually be a powerfull medium to tackle communicate important issues.

  45. Cornelius Gouws says:

    Great cartoon. Do you take bitcoin donations?

  46. Barb says:

    is that background Vancouver and are you in Van City or is Van your home ?

  47. Erin Hardy says:

    Great comic! Very interesting…easy to read and understand!! Accessible to everyone

  48. Michael Robinson says:

    Great job! I was unaware of the Rat Park experiment. Unaware of how the poor science of the sixties rat experiments became evidence for prohibition and the ‘war on drugs’. I’d love to see the experiment redone with what we now know about genetics and addiction. Thank you!!!Wow, I had never heard of this experiment, or thought much about how the earlier sixties rat experiments were used as evidence for prohibition and the war on drugs. I’d love to see them done again, but with the added controls of what we now know about genetics and addiction. Thank you!! http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/addiction/genetics/

  49. Cathy Minard says:

    Fascinating experiment. I know many people who put themselves into cages of their own making. I can see how the implications of these tests could change the world’s outlook about addiction however I do believe there is a true predisposition to addiction that runs in many families. Still, this can help many people think differently and, hopefully, will help addicts.

  50. Jo McKillop says:

    Now I’m not a fan of animal experiments. We’ve discussed them heavily in the lab and I always have two questions: 1) is there no other way? and 2) is the answer we hope to find worth the suffering of sentient beings? In other words: is it necessary and justifiable? I don’t care to find out if we can teach a mouse to juggle with little grains of rice by shocking it. That knowledge is pointless, it serves nothing, it gets us nowhere, it helps nobody.

    Rat Park, on the other hand, is a worthwhile experiment for a number of reasons: 1) it helps us to better understand the nature of addiction and devise better methods of treatment. Leaving the speciesism aside, It can salvage far more lives than it marred. 64 lives for a million, two million, ten? 2) it helps undo much of the harm done by prior rat experiments, both to addicts themselves and to our understanding of addiction. The faulty thinking, the false authority that the older rats suffered for was undermined by Rat Park, meaning that some of the vanity was removed from the suffering of those older rats.

    For all that, it doesn’t make it right. Harming, killing, inflicting suffering, none of these things can ever be pushed over the line into being right, but their context can make them – for lack of a better term – less wrong. Forgive me, I haven’t had enough caffeine to get any deeper than this before the Dawn.

  51. Pingback: This could explain why addiction rates in Portugal have decreased. » A Token Conservative

  52. Siby Cherian says:

    Very informative and the message is clear and simple

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  54. Paul says:

    Brilliant summary of an interesting study. Its a disapointment that the funding was cut and they couldnt push further into the mental reasoning behind this. I do however do have some thoughts on this topic. Looking at the situation of dependant users in human society, even though there are welfare groups and people to help them move into ‘a park’ situation where they can kick the habit and ignore the withdraw symptoms, socialise with other peoplem, why do they not stick to it and ultimately return back to that lifestyle? As Stuart McMillen states at the end, is it the ‘difference between seeing the world as your park or the world as your cage’ or do they find that even though they are in this drug induce stupour they gain enough social interaction with other users and dependants that they dont want or need to give up the habit?
    Are the socialisations of humans and rats similar but ultimately different? Do rats place a larger role every one being included and not turning a blind eye on anyone in Rat Park?
    And finally, what would happen if the control group of rats was increased, while 22 rats is a good number to start with when we are trying to relate back to society and cities, we are talking hundred of thousands, if not millions or people. I understand trying to control millions of rats on Morphene isnt a smart idea but what if we used 1000 rats, would the results be the same or would we find out that some rats on the periphy get left out and ultimately become the extremely dependant user, who doesn’t want and rejects help even if it is offered freely?
    My thoughts and comments, sorry if i offend anyone just wanted discussion.

  55. Judith says:

    Why is Alexander not a household name? This should be on every student sociology/psychology/anthropology/medicine/planning/ architecture/ politics/younameit syllabus. Or is it too dangerous for the ‘just say no’ lobby to contemplate? Think of the damage it would do to the gun lobby, the prisons lobby, the lawyers, everyone else with a stake in the status quo.
    So, what did Dr Alexander do next?

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  57. Debi says:

    Loved it, Thank-you.

  58. Jill says:

    Thank you, this is great. That last panel will haunt me.

  59. Lonnie Williams says:

    What happened to dr. Alexander and his crew?

  60. Pingback: Is an impoverished social and physical environment the root cause of addiction? | Exopermaculture

  61. seth says:

    absolutely fantastic!

  62. Seth says:

    This is such an awesome comic! And based on awesome research. I’m a psychology junkie, so I really like this kind of thing. T
    he little details of Vancouver are wonderful; the Rio Theatre and the DOA poster in the background just take it over the edge. Keep up the amazing work Stuart!

  63. Joe Grammer says:

    I agree with Taylor, putting research data into an engaging visual form like this is awesome from a communication standpoint. The results are weird and interesting, and though I read that replications of this had mixed results, it’s cool (and scary) to consider how your environment shapes your behavior. Reminds me of studies that show how a heroin dose given in a familiar environment can affect one less strongly than in a new environment, to the point where someone could OD in one place but not another off the same dosage and strength.

  64. Taylor H. says:

    This is a great graphic. We need more artistic representations of science like this! It is hard communicating science to the general public, and this has taken a paper and put it in a format that anyone would be able to understand. Thank you for doing this! It was very enlightening.

  65. Pingback: Rat Park Cartoon explores a classic experiment into drug addiction science | Demand Quality. Ask for Ing

  66. Raewyn says:

    Love this work and its presentation in graphic form. Agree with Qui who says it should be considered a teaching aid. Beyond that though, it gives us pause to think about the cities, dwellings and environments we construct.

  67. Pingback: Choices, addictions and vulnerability. | Dream Or Dare

  68. Qui says:

    It’s invaluable the work that our fellow human beings dedicate their lives to, especially when it deals with the betterment of their fellow humans. The presentation of this study alone is a breakthrough and should be considered as a teaching aid everywhere.

  69. Anthony says:

    I’m an addictions counsellor/Psychologist and I’ve been blown away by this study I’d never heard of before. It fits so well with my understanding of addiction, and questions so much of the policy and approach to the problem. Thanks for putting it in such an easily digestible form!
    Also, I loved the Led Zep references!

  70. Lee Monaghan says:

    Thanks for your work in making this important research so pleasant to read about and understand. No government will welcome the findings, however… a ‘war against drugs’ is much cheaper, indeed profitable, than a war against poverty, which reduces human life to a ‘cage’ of overcrowding, stress, poor diet/education/heathcare, lack of options.

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  72. Arthur says:

    First of all – nicely done! But what I especially wanted to point out is that I absolutely adore all the Led Zeppelin-referrals!

  73. Hopeless says:

    Thank you so much for making this. I wish I could explain it (in words) to friends as eloquently as you put it with this comic.

  74. Pingback: Rat Park Experiment | abeautifulandcrazymind

  75. Param says:

    Loved it! Fascinating and very useful provocative story, well told. Great use of cartoonery and enjoyed the new-to-me presentation via internet.

  76. BasementBoi says:

    Thanks, this made think about my own situation.

  77. Grant says:

    Thanks for a great read and use of the comic medium. Love real science that illuminates the dark! Love to read comics that are this useful and real. Happy to pay my $2. Looking forward to passing this on to my 33year old daughter who works as an art therapist to get the kids of addicts to not repeat the pattern in their lives.

  78. Loner says:

    I’m a loner and this makes me sad, because it’s true.

  79. Pingback: It’s not the morphine, it’s the size of the cage: Rat Park experiment upturns conventional wisdom about addiction | Big Thoughts- In Few Words

  80. Henk says:

    great story. can we change our society now?

  81. Neil says:

    Really enjoyed that. Thanks!

  82. Iso says:

    Thank you

  83. Frazer Kirkman says:

    thanks for the journey. I wonder if we need to focus on the isolated to help create a mindset of feeling socially included, or if it would be more effective to work on creating a more inclusive society for everyone, a culture where everyone is kinder and more positively playful, and more willing to include people that in the past were marginalised or teased.

  84. Pingback: Prostitution in Norwegen, sexuelle Unterdrückung & Menstruationsgebiete « Reality Rags

  85. wr4ith0 says:

    This is cool, the comic and the formatting both. I’ve seen a bunch of sites that use infinite canvass, but most of them leave the navigation to the reader (which is generally okay for purely vertical strips, but a pain in the tuscus for anything that bulges elsewhere). Are you using html5 for the navigation? Have you ever thought about using vertical movement as well (would it be possible with the current setup?)

    thanks, sorry if i’m bugging you but I find this stuff interesting.

  86. Pingback: Do you live in a cage or a park? | tyblu

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  88. Laurent says:

    Ok for heroin, it’s known to dull your perception and make you feel good, but what about popular social drugs such as cocain how does it work?

  89. bergunty says:

    Great comic! I found this on BBC News; good study; and good drawing too!

  90. Pingback: It’s not the morphine, it’s the size of the cage: Rat Park experiment upturns conventional wisdom about addiction | Health News Site

  91. Pingback: It’s not the morphine, it’s the size of the cage: Rat Park experiment upturns conventional wisdom about addiction

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  93. Nytajha says:

    I love how everything goes into detail and fully explains the differences between people who have a great social life and people who live lonely.

  94. coreybarmer14 says:

    i agree, its like rats were being potrayed as us, the more we surround ourselves with other human beings the better off we are. The “loners” are more addicted because they have nobody to go to.

  95. Shirley Adams says:

    wonderful when research supports intuitive ideas: those without hope overuse drugs. The rest of us use our caffeine, alcohol, marijuana, in moderation as an ancillary pleasure.
    I love how comic frames make a rather dry text intriguing and keeps me hitting > to read to the very last frame.

  96. Rb13 says:

    Same thought, this was a very nice story!

  97. Pingback: Imprisoning Addiction | Unruly Bodies

  98. Mary Shaw says:

    Very nice story. Are there citations supporting the research in any journals? I will happily share this with colleagues working in addiction fields if I am given indication that it is a true story.

    • Rmm says:

      The story was informational I agree even though the last researcher was left puzzled

      • Rb13 says:

        Yes, even though I have no clue why the researcher was puzzled

        • Charlie Farlie says:

          i agree i dont really understand why he was puzzled but i think its because he compares the rats to humans and if humans are in the same situation they become addicted and start using drugs too.

  99. sharno says:

    It was awesome. Artistically and the content are of the best I’ve ever read.
    Thank you

    • Rmm says:

      Drugs are a choice whether your isolated or not …not saying it’s easy but it’s a choice

      • Nytajha says:

        Yes, but some people might feel the need to “try” things, if they have no social life. Because they feel like since they have no life , why not just try something that could get my mind off of that…

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  101. anc3718 says:

    I enjoyed this comic very much. When I first saw it I was thinking: This is going to be very boring. Then I started getting into it. It made perfect sense. The rats that were isolated, chose the drugs. The ones in Rat Park had other rats to socialize with and play with. The ending had an excellent message. Are you going see the world as your park, or your cage?

    • dicksgirl11 says:

      I agree completely. When my professor told us to read this I was hesitant. I didn’t know what to think. I didn’t think it would be interesting at all, but it really surprised me . This comic makes perfect sense :)

    • Tony B says:

      i agree this comic was very intresting it made me wonder how different humans see the world and what may cause them to turn to drugs today…i personally see my world as a park

    • michael b says:

      great post i was the same way! i really in joyed the reading

    • Charlie Farlie says:

      i agree i too thought this story would be boring and pointless but i actually got into it. i love how you made that connection of do u see the world as your park or cage that is so true and thats why the scientist was so shook up cause everyone should see the world as their park.

  102. Pingback: Understanding Addiction: Rat Park | Life in Balance

  103. Rox1SMF says:

    Thank you for illustrating this so beautifully, and helping to educate people about this important work.

    • LADYVARELA says:

      The illustrating was beautiful and brilliant, it gave an insight into addiction and what it can actually do to ppl.

      • Nytajha says:

        I totally agree. It gave me greater knowledge of what to think the problem may be if I were to run into someone who is an addict.

  104. Stevie says:

    Thank you for this. It was beautifully done.

  105. clothing5 says:

    It’s a shame that these experiments were discontinued.

    • LADYVARELA says:

      its actually not a shame, the experiment was an inhuman! the experiment killed 100s of rats. although i don’t like them i wouldn’t wish any living breathing creature death for scientific research.

      • Nytajha says:

        I totally understand where you are coming from but I believe that, that works for when there is a new drug that could be a cure for something and to see if it is safe for humans, they definitely need a test first.

    • RM says:

      I actually agree the exp. should have never been dis. But the actual findings were enough to say that drug addiction is a choice .

  106. Pingback: Is addiction a rational choice? | Recovery Continuum

  107. Jane says:

    liked this much.. as an artist (yeah;did comics back in art school, early ’70’s; the underground sort) and as an addict who is always going to be in recovery. I say this as I know that I cannot ever allow myself to take anything bringing ‘instant gratification.’ I can only ‘take’ drugs prescribed. no; I do not take pain meds.. I’m for one not in that much pain (I can tolerate my level fortunately).two years ago, however,I broke my shoulder in 2 places; I was prescribed that oxy stuff. it was a disgusting feeling although it did help with the pain.. however I did wind up going back to the ER to get a different drug (forgot which) as I could not tolerate how yucky oxy was.. although I’d snorted heroin before, it was not a drug of choice; that would be pot. and as for the rat experiment? yes; there is validity to it, but one thing is missing…
    this would be using rats who have a genetic predisposition to being addicts. my parents were both alcoholics; I also drank a great deal; had to stop that of course as for me it is no different than any drug..
    most all I’ve met within the 12 step community (how I got clean) seem to share that same factor.. although it isn’t everyone.
    I still feel that there is something more to the study. of course social
    and other miseries come into play with addiction!! I see this all the time whereI live; in a ghetto area which happens to be a huge drug area. (I haven’t $$ to move). there’s been a marked rise as well in addicts since the economy has gotten worse; I notice this from how damn many people there are ‘around’ coming to buy here.

  108. M Henri Day says:

    Do you happen to know if the experiments carried out by Professor Alexander and his team have ever been replicated by others ?…

    Henri

  109. Miss Kris says:

    Thank you so much. I actually cried reading this. As someone who has had family and friends affected by addiction it’s refreshing to read something that doesn’t demonize them for being prone to the allure of drugs. It’s so much more than chemical; it’s societal.

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  114. Todd Huffman says:

    Thank you,

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  116. Abhilash jayachadran says:

    This is an excellent way to share the ‘story’ of research and the very important findings of this study. Our policy makers and society as a whole should strive to make the rat park realities transferred to human society to respect everyone’s right to live a happy/peaceful life.

    • anc3718 says:

      I agree with you. This is an excellent way to show people how easily you can become addicted. But if you are isolated alone all the time, then you have more free time to have these drugs. If you socialize with friends and family, then why would you even want to think about doing it? Very well put together

    • michael b says:

      i agree but i dont think drugs will make everyone happy / peace

  117. Samuel Crabtree says:

    It is my personal feelings & experiences that lead me to believe conclusively with Bruce Alexander’s hypothesis & conclusions; the low points of my life always coincided with my use of opiates, alcohol & benzos… times when I was depressed, detached, isolated, angry & lonely were the times I heavily immersed myself in these substances. Conversely, periods when I was socially connected & highly functional in family & society were mostly abstemious. A priori, the Rat Park experiment appears compelling.

    • amira says:

      I think the drugs and addiction it is different in way because this hard to teak out from the addiction and teak long time to be better and not easy
      but alcohol ,lonely and impressed these society problem and not teak long time to be better

  118. Kat says:

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard of Rat Park, and it was a great introduction. Well done, sir.

    • amira says:

      ME to this first time read Rat Park but i like it very much because help all people haw every one protect himself from drug and addiction

    • Tony B says:

      This was my 1st time reading this comic also i really enjoyed it

    • Shanell McKinnon says:

      This is my first time ever hearing of Rat Park as well. And I enjoyed it.

  119. Álvaro says:

    Awesome. Great storytelling, very focused script and fucking right theme. Love it dude.

    • Charlie Farlie says:

      i agree the script was very focused and made its point great its the shit

  120. boonoo says:

    Very good – as a former opiate addict (first illegally then legally) the Rat Park graphics are fabulous. They hit right to the heart of the inadequacy of modern pharmacological science. Pharmaceuticals are, as we all know, a very, very big lucrative business – get the masses addicted. For any opiate addicts reading this, get a grip. No one dies from opiate withdrawal by itself! Alcohol withdrawal, absolutely! So you have a few very uncomfortable days…you are not ‘sick’ you are getting well and it’s just so much better on this side of that dark wall.

  121. Lin Myers says:

    Fabulous! As a scientist and a clinician, I really appreciate the clear way you outlined what they did and the questions they were asking (and the careful way they did not jump to conclusions). The politics of research are clearly on display here to. Thanks!!

  122. Ashbet says:

    Excellent comic!!

    (As a person who takes as-needed morphine for an extremely painful degenerative lifelong condition, I can testify that having pain relief available does not, in fact, result in addiction and destructive behavior — it’s actually the opposite. Having pain relief means that I can *live* my life, fully participate as a member of my family and my friends group, and while my physical abilities are going to continue to gradually decline, I am mentally fully present and I’m doing everything possible to keep my life from getting any smaller in scope.)

    Give people something to live for, and they won’t try to escape into drug-induced oblivion.

    But, in addition to that — our Prohibition mindset about pain medication causes real and serious harm to genuine pain patients, who are faced with Puritan attitudes that basically can be summed up as a fear that we might enjoy the medication that we need to control our pain.

    I don’t get “high” — I just am able to re-focus and allow *me* to dominate, rather than my pain. And I’m very grateful to have pain relief, after five years of increasing disability without it.

    I am fearful of the changes to state law and the FDA that have been/are being made, however, because the differentiation of “chronic non-cancer pain” from “cancer pain,” as if non-cancer pain was somehow less severe or disabling, is troubling.

    I couldn’t bear the thought of a future which held nothing but increasing pain — that was my cage. Morphine, oddly enough, is what opened the door and allowed me back into my own Life Park.

  123. Davey says:

    It seems that nearly everyone is addicted to something or another these days, at least in the US. I see this as a symptom of the creeping cultural malaise of the present era. Many people are finding it increasingly difficult to connect with each other in deep, lasting, meaningful, and rewarding ways. This growing disconnection would appear to be fueled in part by the various technologies we increasingly depend upon, from constant mainstream media feeds, to facebook and twitter, to the the steel cages within which we drive to and fro each day. We are conditioned to fear and hate one another by a media that focuses overwhelmingly on the negaitive. We no longer teach our children the practical and interpersonal skills that have allowed many cultures throughout history to thrive in relative harmony with the earth and with each other. We increasingly see the world through the bars of these self imposed prison cells, insulating ourselves from a world we believe to be cold, harsh, and dangerous. Rather than stepping out of the cell to explore on our own, we sit alone and wonder at the emptiness we feel, indulging uncontrollably in whatever we can find that will fill the void for just a few fleeting moments.
    I assume that the problems stem not from the technologies themselves, but from the ways in which they are largely being used- to control, manipulate, isolate, and indoctrinate.
    But don’t worry- there are no conspiracies. Ever. Now get back in that steel plastic, and aluminum cage and go get yourself some more ice-cream. I promise you’ll be feeling much better soon.

  124. Edward Murphy says:

    Reversing the situation, move the social rats to the cages and vice-versa after a period. Then lets begin creating a People Park utopia for the miserable addicted persons near-destroyed by the People Cage.

    • Tony B says:

      I do agree the experiment couldve been drawn out a little more before it was discontinue to see if the how the park rats handle being isolated from others

    • Charlie Farlie says:

      I think it would be pointless because if you take the rat park rats and put them in cages then the results will be the same they then would turn to the morphine because they have nothing to do and they once had friends and a place to play around now their in cages alone so it would be worse

      • dolly says:

        you totally right charlie Farlie,it would be pointless,but if they take the cage’s rats and put them together with the rats in the plywood..which of the rats group will affect the other?

  125. Edward Murphy says:

    Rats are not people, people are not rats (usually). The world is neither park nor cage, but feeling makes it so. The world is not so intelligently designed, and nether are its inhabitants. Nevertheless, the chief drive to drug use is loneliness and emotional pain, this in an overpopulated world. There is some madness at work when so many feel alone and cannot feel the simple creature comfort of company among so many modern humans. A clue might be intimated in the resort to animal companions where humans cannot do. But madness is inevitably complex and not resolvable by simple means. Else the “cat-ladies” and animal hoarders would be awash in ecstasy instead of still deeper in anguished isolation.
    Good comic. Good ideas, unfinished. Keep thinking, there’s more.

  126. Mike says:

    I really enjoyed your comic!

    Addiction can be a perception of personal limitation.

    The world is your sea. Limitless.

  127. Brenda says:

    as an addict this speaks true to my experiences.
    early in life it was fun.
    then it wasn’t
    a great deal of the ’cause’ is societal. the need of recovery comes to each user when it does.
    Recovery is not easy, but it can be done, with help from one’s community.
    Serious pain, and control of same with a variety of methods, including pharmaceuticals, when stressed, i turn to aroma therapy, visualization, and progressive stretching exercises.
    With great thanks to WCB and the Vancouver Pain Clinic.

    ]

  128. Brenda says:

    Oh WELL DONE. Such a scientific study that included an alternative, how much it showed me of my own circumstances,the influence from unknown emotional time bombs. Heart breaking that this information was not available as soon as it was discovered. Perhaps there would have been a rational,reasoned,and realistic approach to ‘detox and recovery’.

  129. Lia Craven says:

    A creative way to present a scientific study–so many more of these are needed!

  130. Mik Legrady says:

    The future comes out of thinking like this.
    A creative breakthrough in addiction research.

    • amira 1 says:

      I agree every day have new technology and give more deatiles information and new result more researches .

  131. Ian says:

    Loved the depiction of Barry Beyerstein! (I’d recognize the mustache anywhere.)

  132. Michael Gilbert says:

    Informative—-and very interesting. It seems to suggest that the Catholic (and others) teaching that we are made for relationship is true.

  133. Rebecca says:

    This is lovely. Thank you.

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  135. Matthew Marucci says:

    Very useful, very interesting, very informative. Thank you.
    ‘If you can’t explain it simply, you do not understand it well enough.’ – AE

    • amira says:

      I agree with you this story very useful and very interesting and explain it simply and give enough information

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  137. Ezequiel says:

    Incredible, thank you very much.

  138. Tim Brown (@keyofnight) says:

    …awesome.

  139. Kyle says:

    Very unique and informative story. I am glad that someone has made this information available.

  140. Pingback: La globalización de la adicción y el experimento del Parque de las Ratas | Observatorio Cannábico

  141. Bjørn Eriksen says:

    Amazing retelling of the event, very informativ:)
    There are more experiments that is left told, hope that you’ll keep up the good work!

  142. jonmb says:

    speaking as a heroin addict-
    very insightful and inspiring.

  143. Frederick Harrison says:

    Lots of overt/subtle Led Zeppelin inspired/borrowed images in this – liked the not-so-obvious reference to the Physical Graffiti cover in the one panel. The study certainly helps to explain addiction in celebrities who have money, mansions, and media attention, yet still “self medicate”, in contradiction to what one would expect once stress over money, shelter, food, clothing, etc. had been eliminated. So is it really a matter a whether one perceives themselves as being caged or relatively free that makes the difference? Which makes me wonder about the implications for the current model of prisons and incarceration – do they exacerbate the problem or contain it?

  144. Jesse says:

    Great presentation of the nuanced way the studies were done. After reading the BBC coverage, I was still wondering what the experiments REALLY showed. Now I get it. Great work!

    • dicksgirl11 says:

      I totally agree. This was a very great presentation, and very simple, but super informative :)

      • dolly says:

        yup.. actually it is amazing..and its told us how is Brule Alexander care because he repeat the classical rat drugs when he felt they the researchers did do it in the right way..

  145. Karen says:

    this was great! insightful!

  146. Laura says:

    Excellent! Thanks

  147. Simon says:

    Awesome comic taking a complex subject matter and making it easy to digest. Nice work :)

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  149. Oliver says:

    I got addicted to weed, at the time I didn’t have any friends and was extremely shy. Then I stopped when things got better, then a few years later life was hard, I felt isolated from friends/family and got addicted to MDMA & Speed. Each time when I came out of those depressing phases, I was able to stop. And my diairy entries from those times specifically mentioned feeling cage/trapped etc.

    • Viv says:

      Your story is very similar to a friend of mine’s. Through lots of intervention and care, we were able to help him come out of his shell and show him that he had people who cared for him. I’m glad this comic exists to help show that addiction is not a sign of weakness, but a culmination of very nuanced factors that include socialization and isolation. Then, maybe, the general public would get rid of the dismissive stereotype that people like Golflin Gortenats hold onto, further stigmatizing your experience.

  150. Some Bloke says:

    Brilliantly drawn, important information.
    The experiment should be done with humans, though – Rats are intelligent, social creatures who don’t deserve to suffer for our experiments.

    • Viv says:

      I understand where you are coming from–I hate seeing animals suffer for tests. But saying that we should do that to humans instead is the same kind of deal. Furthermore, conducting experiments on humans would result in a less controlled environment which can skew results. At least what we can do is to minimize animal suffering and follow a strict code of ethics.

    • anc3718 says:

      I agree with you. The people out walking the streets are looking for drugs, so why not test on them? They are probably already messed up.This is such a sad thing, but it is true

  151. Irene says:

    yeah at long last we are getting AWAY from the disease/medical model of addiction

    • amira says:

      the outer give a lot information about addiction because help all people keep their heath away from addiction

  152. max says:

    beautifully told thank you

  153. Ed says:

    As a guy who’s used..I can say for a fact that the effect of drugs is amplified (positively & negatively) by the users personal and social environment.

    • LADYVARELA says:

      yes i agree, Ive never done heavy drugs. but i have family who has and i definitely noticed that the more we supported my mom staying away from drugs the less she wanted it.

  154. Cynthia says:

    Funny, the only thing the Park Rats got addicted to was sugar.

  155. Ove Frederiksen says:

    Fantastic experiment, i will share The Rat Park story with all my friends. Thank you.

  156. Matias says:

    Great work, as a scientist who works with genetic mouse models of disease, I completely agree how an enriched environment results in dramatic changes at the epigenetic and behavioral levels…in fact, I have recently discovered how voluntary running can rescue the ataxia-like symptoms in one of my mouse models…clearly, addiction is directly related to the social environment and we should be very careful in how we interpret our animal studies and extrapolate them to humans…I really enjoyed your art work, hope to see more!!

  157. Helen Wilson says:

    Thank you for this enjoyable and information story of Rat Park. I had only a basic understanding of it before, from talking with Bruce and reading some of his work, and your comic presents the story in a clear sequence. I will share it with others.

  158. Marie says:

    Very interesting drug experiment. Society needs to decriminalize all illegal drugs. All drugs, legal and illegal need to be put under the control of local doctors, health clinic and dispensaries, and dispensed as needed. If people want to use drugs, they should be able too without fear of becoming a criminal and if they do not want to use drugs fine. Accordingly, education. counseling, and drug rehabilitation should also be available to everyone. Needless experiments on innocent animals is cruel and morally wrong.

  159. Fiona says:

    Knowing we humans think it’s O.K to experiment on living animals (that are destroyed after we they are no longer of any use to us) to try and understand ourselves; makes me want to use drugs. Shame on us.

  160. Mike says:

    I was really captivated by this comic. I’ll keep the link somewhere safe for when I’m not broke anymore. I’d be glad to support your art.

  161. Tracy says:

    wonder if we couldn’t have figured this out by studying real humans with drug problems and those without. Then we would get the subtle contextual information they were looking for. I wonder if the “rat paradise” really was a rats’ paradise, or simply better than the conditions faced by the isolated rats? How many other variables may have affected their drug addiction (or lack thereof) but were not considered given the researchers’ ignorance of rats and their differences from us. I feel very sad for the rats who were forced to live in isolation.How many rats were used in these experiments?

  162. Tim Wilson says:

    I knew those rats personally.

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  165. judith says:

    Thank you for laying this all out in pictures. I had read and heard about the experiments before but this is makes the important nuances clearer.

  166. Suzanne says:

    Do you have all these addiction comics in book form? Or downloadable as a group? These would be awesome for my University level drug class – students sometimes need visuals to really comprehend a message.

  167. Flo - Fraser Ross says:

    Who says comics are addictive:)? These comics should be mandatory reading at all levels of education, especially kindergarten.

  168. Elizabeth Walsh says:

    What a beautiful, inspiring story. I didn’t know Bruce did such brilliant work!

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  171. Cora says:

    Well done!

  172. Mattie says:

    20: “the researchers were confident the rats had been avoiding the effects of the drug, not the taste”. I’d change that if I were you. Making an assumption like that completely nullifies the whole project (scientifically speaking).

    • stuart says:

      Hi Mattie. That statement is not something I pulled out of thin air. The following page of the comic explains how Robert Coambs did a side-experiment with Naltrexone which tested whether the rats were avoiding the taste or the effects of the drug solution.

  173. Bruce Sewick says:

    I use this in my class on psychedelics all the time!
    Bruce

  174. Sarah says:

    Interesting, but I do wonder if part of the problem is insight? The Rats, I guess made a decision to chose the environment over addiction. Perhaps humans aren’t so intelligent, or their preference is to ‘avoid’ other life experiences/interactions. I sometimes wonder if a part of the drug use, is to ‘make a statement’ to people they either don’t like, or wish to be like, but haven’t achieved! Always a difficult question. It is absolutely shameful that the Government doesn’t acknowledge and offer treatment to ths ongoing dilemma of substance use, addiction and treatment.

  175. Devon Bray says:

    I have known about these experiments for a while. Just yesterday , I was taking an online continuing education class regarding this very topic. OF COURSE the rat park experiments where not brought up. The classic rat experiments scream confounding variables.

  176. L0gicRat says:

    I really enjoyed reading your comic. It intuitively makes perfect sense, and as a now sober outlier, to me still appears completely rational and reasonable. I wonder what the incidence of use would be in a “rat factory” or some other super sized analog. Your comic is shear brilliance, and I wish I could have the entire thing, spiraling around a t-shirt.

    • Charlie Farlie says:

      your right this does make perfect sense but i think your taking it to far with the t-shirt maybe a blanket thoe lmao

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  179. Yurek says:

    This is an excellent way to introduce underrepresented psych theory to the general public. Reminds me of a quote from street people brought to the intentional community of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon in the 80s. They said “they had a purpose, and felt needed there”. In many ways what people need more than food and necessities of life, is a constantly evolving sense of comprehensive social meaning. In short they need the mental stimulation of interaction, gossip, and intrigue that results from social interaction. This is like a drug to humans which is why we’re so intelligent and successful as a species.

  180. Eduardo says:

    Marvelous!!

  181. Nicole Gertenaar says:

    This is SO GOOD!!! This is what it is all about!! I can relate so much to the “Rat Park” experiment and I am not a rat!!! (well physically anyway!!) This is what addiction is all about – HOW YOU SEE YOURSELF IN THIS WORLD! SO IMPORTANT !! This is great! People react to the availability of morphine (heroin on the street most of the time) and the way they withdraw ALL DIFFERENTLY ACCORDING TO THEIR ENVIROMENTS (THE WORLD THEY SEE). Finally the truth is coming out there!

  182. ragir says:

    hmmm. So head for Shangri la? This pessimist sees us going the opposite way- fast.

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  186. Marcelo says:

    Hels to open the mind’s about the subject.

  187. Lindy says:

    Very insightful and easy to understand, and also thought provoking. Hope it becomes widely read.

  188. Ploum says:

    Very informative and very nice ending. I would like to be able to support you on Flattr.

  189. Joshua says:

    Thanks! That was really well done and thought provoking.

  190. George Costanza says:

    Very interesting comic delving into pretty unique themes. At least for comics.

    What’s with all the Led Zeppelin references though?

  191. michael parkinson says:

    Very well done- and important for sharing the world of research in ways more people can comprehend and appreciate. We all benefit from getting research out of the lab and into the World’s classrooms.
    michael
    http://www.preventingcrime.ca/Rx

  192. Neil Frazer says:

    Very interesting and accessible. It would be a worthwhile piece of research to study the correlation between Towns/communities that measure low on the availability of meaningful social and cultural activities and related capital, and the prevalence of drug and alcohol problems.
    Regards
    Neil

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  194. Neil Phillips says:

    This is a terrific piece of work. I’m speaking both as a psychiatrist and as a cartoonist and drawer of comics. (I know how much hard work it is). Are you involved in the Comics in Medicine group? If not, the best way to make contact is via Ian Williams’ site at
    http://www.graphicmedicine.org/

    I’ll send Ian your link.

    Cheers,

    Neil

  195. Michael Michalchik says:

    I moderate Occupy Economics on facebook and one of teh topics we have been looking at is the nature of poverty and why inequality is harmful. I wrote an essay in which I postulatd thatthere were 3 basic forms of poverty.

    One form/effect of povert it posit is exerpted below. I think it directly dovetails with this research.

    Social poverty:

    Humans are obligate social creatures. Though there are a few exceptions, most humans adapt very poorly to isolation and exclusion. Further we very much depend on our inclusion in our culture to receive benefits available to all citizens generally. Poverty is ugly and poverty stinks, literally. Poverty lives on the margins of society and poverty shuts you out of access to the media and culture you need to be versed in to be part of society. The amount of material goods you have access to directly affects your ability to relate to other people. For kids, not having the same toys, comparable clothes, comparable exposure to music and entertainment labels you as an outsider and shuts down your social relations. If you look like a destitute person you have little chance of getting a job, no matter your ability. You have trouble living in areas that give you access to things like groceries and banking and are instead trapped with more expensive check cashing and convenience store fare. Clubs, churches and various social events exclude you. This has vicious effects on a persons ability to function or be happy.

    There are many communities and people from around the world that are quite poor by western standards, but have a culture in which inequality is minimal and people are not ostracized from their community and commerce by their poverty. On the other hand societies with extreme wealth inequality develope a host of pathologies; I think that are a direct result of the isolation of the poor and classism. There are many studies on this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ7LzE3u7Bw

  196. Craig says:

    Great comic, good info told in a captivating way. I love the Zep IV imagery, too!

  197. badweather says:

    I like it but I think that in the end, whether you see it that way or not is only half the truth, how it actually is.

    For instance, the economic conditions that exist for someone aren’t just making them see the world as their prison, it is their prison because they’re poor. It’s going to take more than seeing it differently
    to stop being poor and experiencing the cage of marginalization.

    Otherwise I think this is really great, I admit my point it perhaps seemingly minor but some people might not realize that just changing the way someone sees things isn’t going to always be that magical panacea and allow them to enjoy poverty and see how wonderfully free they are.

    If your intent is to show that poverty is the root of depression, drug addiction, etc., I’d agree with you.

  198. Jennifer says:

    Thank you for sharing this, you break it down in a way that people can understand. I spent 6 days in jail this last year and met some women that have drug problems and I totally felt that putting these women in jail was doing nothing except to damage them even further, so pointless.

  199. Mercedes Clemens says:

    Stuart, I just loved this! It’s brilliant, thank you!

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  201. Dwayne says:

    If Barry was alive, this would be posted on his door. What a wonderful comic. Thanks for this.
    As an aside, my office was we’re the rat park was when I was at SFU…!

  202. Luvarian says:

    @Patrick Librarian

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Amazing piece of work.

  203. Lev Lafayette says:

    A thousand times yes. This really has depicted the experiment and the consequences with accuracy and feeling.

    I presume you’re familiar with the Portuguese experience with decriminalisation?

  204. Pingback: Is your life a park or is it a cage? | The Community of Dallas Bay

  205. AnonIL says:

    The last panel made me cry

  206. Jon Taylor says:

    Fantastic depiction of Alexander’s “rat park” research. I will be assigning this to my University students for courses I teach on illegal drugs. Thanks so much for creating this.

  207. Pingback: Is your life a park or is it a cage? » Larry's Log

  208. Patrick R., Librarian says:

    A tremendous piece of art that makes the scientific process simple and thrilling -while answering a philosophical question with political and intellectual context. All without with the commonplace low attempts at humor, irony, or heavy-handedness that cloud drug use and drug abuse debates.

  209. JC Winter says:

    Very nice description of some fascinating experiments. Goes along with Sigmund Freud’s comment that we all need Lieben und Arbeiten, Love and Work, or, to put in Skinnerian terms, there would be less addiction to drugs if we all had alternative reinforcers.

  210. Pingback: What Causes Addiction? | The Penn Ave Post

  211. Pingback: Conspiracy Theories! | Rat Park – Drug WarRant

  212. Andy says:

    Loved this and War on Drugs a lot. Bought multiple copies so you could have $10 (and repeated this comment in both places to let people know how good your other work is too!).

  213. Tom says:

    I’m starting a clinical psych PhD in the fall….this is really wonderful.

  214. Nick Barter says:

    Good one…..Our environment impacts our humanity.

  215. Samantha says:

    Great comic – makes me want to go and read the original research!

  216. James says:

    Great comic and interesting information. I studied to be an addiction counselor in college and never heard about this. Most everything I was taught was geared toward the 12-step, Alcoholics Anonymous, disease model of addiction which claims that people are either born with genetic predisposition, or their brain chemistry is altered so that they cannot avoid their drug taking behaviors. I think the information presented in this comic raises important questions about the role our policy plays in perpetuating addiction. We stigmatize and alienate individuals for using substances, individuals who probably turned to drugs because of alienation in the first place, and we wonder why we continue to see a rise in drug use despite 40 years and over a trillion dollars spent on prohibition. Great stuff!

  217. Pingback: A 1970s Canadian science experiment made drugs freely… | Crazy Facts

  218. Daniel says:

    This was just, amazing I’m already trying to find more of this ‘Rat Park’ I never knew this kind of research had ever been done. Moreover the art and dipiction of the whole story was incredible, thank you.

  219. Lyssa says:

    This was fantastic. Really enjoyed it :) Am going to show my teenage son – maybe his drawings will one day expand others knowledge as yours have done for me today.

    • amira says:

      I agree it is have good information for teenager specially because this age love try every thing this story too simple and easy they are know every thing about drugs

  220. DLirios says:

    Me likey. Great insight. And I do agree. I feel the system we’re putting up for ourselves nowadays is becoming more of a prison; more of a reason to want to escape. Keep spreading the good word buddy

    • Cedes12 says:

      yes i would agree as well, nowadays people think being caged away would help solve problems when it is the other way around.

  221. Karen Foster says:

    Very disappointed that this is the first I have heard of the Rat Park experiments and I am a 3rd year psychology student.

  222. Some guy says:

    Very nice and informative; shows the utter failure of mainstream media and the “education” system that this is not better known.

    • dicksgirl11 says:

      Educators could never teach this, this illustration was beautiful, and great for teens like meee.

  223. theo says:

    beutifull

  224. Trayia says:

    This needs to be more viral for the common public.

  225. Bar_Barian says:

    That last panel hit me right in the feels…

  226. Leo says:

    Some great insights, a very well done comic. Kudos to the author!

  227. Mr Alebrije says:

    Booo,
    seeng the world as your cage? that was so anticlimatic. Clearly was a poor interpretation of the data and the problematic of drug addiction. Even worst, now this misconception has been transmitted in a very didactic way.
    way to go.
    Joseph Alebrije

  228. Hegel says:

    A false conclusion. Alexander presupposes the control of the individual over the environment in which he is born, the gender which he possesses, and the family and upbringing to which he is subjected. While the individual may have some control over his life, he does not have TOTAL control, since there are factors that one cannot control. For example, the system of economic exchange is a given that cannot be altered by any individual unless a crisis warrants the alteration of the economic system. Hence, perception in itself is not the main indicator of drug addiction. What is the key to understanding addiction is perception of something. The rats living in rat park could perceive their social life have this perception imprinted as a memory. Those that did not, those who did not have a perception of rat park, only of isolation (the absence of a social where others exist) did not have this memory, yet they sought it. That is, there exists no equality of opportunity. The drug addiction problem is a political problem, yet the war on drugs only goes after the epiphenomena of addiction qua addiction. It does not address the underlying social factors that induce drug addiction. Moreover, it has nothing to do with wealth (rich people do drugs as well) and more to do with recognition from others. They want acceptance.

    Mammals are not solitary beings, they are social; human beings are no exception. But the conditions of society for humans requires more than the mere presence of others, but a certain type of interaction that can only be fulfilled in a certain type of social system (which is hierarchical, as politically incorrect as it may sound). The truth is conditioned by what we deem as “acceptable” to us, and which does not hurt our feelings. This is absolutely absurd.

    • Stuart McMillen. says:

      I’m not exactly sure what you’re arguing here…

      What you are saying seems to line up with the essence of Bruce Alexander’s book The Globalization of Addiction.

      To me it seems that you, I and Bruce Alexander are all on the same page.

      • Michael says:

        I had a completely different response to the comic. I didn’t see the last panel as drawing a conclusion as to the total cause of addiction, but rather more literally as it was written, “What if…”
        I certainly agree with you that addiction is multi-factorial and cannot be explained simply by perception. One certainly is not in control of the environment they are born into, much like the rats in the experiment. The idea that perception alone dictates addiction vs non-addiction is a bit simplistic but changing perception is a major part of recovering from addiction. As a recovering addict and alcoholic and avid member of AA and NA what I drew from it was the importance of becoming a part of a community and changing my attitude. Less self-pity, more gratitude and outreach. Granted, I say this now after having been through a ridiculously expensive rehab and having a family and social structure that actively support my recovery. There are far too many who do not have the advantages that I do and don’t manage to sustain recovery.
        Getting off soapbox, I really enjoyed the comic and will be sharing the positive message in the rooms.

  229. Megan Adam says:

    Thanks for this great comic. I have sent it along to Bruce – still living in East Van and periodically doing talks on capitalism and addiction. So great to see his work developed graphically. Thanks for introducing a new wave of people to this very important work.

  230. Fish says:

    Hmm, interesting. The last panel especially. People who are happy with their life, wouldnt dare ruin it with drugs (Rat park). People who are depressed dont care to ruin their lives, they believe it cant get better anyway. (Caged rats)

    • dicksgirl11 says:

      I agree that people with a good life wouldnt usually ruin it with drugs, and lonely people dont care. :)

    • Charlie Farlie says:

      i have to disagree with you on that note..just because a person is happy with their life doesnt exactly mean they wouldnt do drugs cause drugs will consume anybody rather your happy or not..true more people who are depressed does seem to do it more but just because a person is happy with their life doesnt mean that they wont try it either and become addicted..because they are happy that alone will make them try it because they have it all so why not..so i feel what your saying is wrong just my opinion

  231. Jeff says:

    So good. loved the comic. it was very insightful.

    • amira 1 says:

      Me too this comic it is nice , clear and explain the story clearly without need reading the story

  232. SJPJ says:

    Good Read, makes you think of all other other scientific experiments that people take as fact and use it to corrupt the truth.

    • ameira says:

      this is very nice to know fact experiment and fact information and fact professional and how can work professional and how can try many times to get fact information

  233. Linda Weinberg says:

    As someone who has known all of these researchers, I think that this is a creative and interesting description of the work of Rat Park. Too bad that the Canadian government isn’t interested in this research.

  234. Swag says:

    It was a cool comic, but I felt that the actual story could have been told with just a paragraph of text. Is it worth the time to make such an extensive comic, when in the end all it does is extend a point aimlessly?

    • art appreciator says:

      Umm, do you even… art? Your comment was cool and all, but was it worth the time to write two whole sentences, when in the end all you did was say nothing?

      • Simon says:

        How come you can say that the author said nothing in the end ? For me it was very deep and profound, yet I can understand why some people may find the comic not fulfilling enough. I did find it fulfilling, maybe because I have similar opinions regarding this issue, stemming from experience… Anyway, the last panel was really a bomb. Keep up the good job !

  235. A Reader says:

    This comic is a great explanation of drug use and how users get into drugs. Thank you to the author! I will share this with many people.

  236. Lesley Mitchell says:

    This was amazing. Really informative and provided in an interesting way.

  237. Jaime I says:

    I stands up from chair at work, begins slow clap. Amazing. Donates $5

  238. Claire says:

    Great work.

  239. Ard Timmerman says:

    This was great :) Thankyou!

    • Charlie Farlie says:

      This was and interesting read i totally agree with you.

  240. Alyssa Blais says:

    That was amazing! Wow. Impressive.

  241. Tim Wheaton says:

    Another series of well-produced, profound illustrations. The ending was similar to, but not the exact one, I had assumed. Amazing work.

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