Rat Park

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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 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 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.
Cartoon homeless man pushing shopping cart black and white drawing. ...and seeing the world as your cage.Cartoon homeless man pushing shopping cart black and white drawing. ...and seeing the world as your cage.Cartoon homeless man pushing shopping cart black and white drawing. ...and seeing the world as your cage.Cartoon homeless man pushing shopping cart black and white drawing. ...and seeing the world as your cage.

Support my idiosyncratic comics! Become a regular financial patron via my Patreon campaign! Support my comics on a monthly basis. Want more info? Watch my 3-minute video!
Comic about a classic experiment into drug addiction science: Rat Park. Would rats choose to take drugs if given a stimulating environment and company? More information:
The making of Rat Park: extra information about the real-life experiments. Includes my reference list.
• Information about Bruce Alexander’s post-Rat Park research
My Drug Period: my lessons learnt from War on Drugs & Rat Park.
10,000 / 1,500 / 15: Breaking the Silence on Responsible Drug Use: my personal experiences with responsible drug use.

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16 May 2024

Well done, as a researcher I appreciate your thoroughness, citing the control experiments but also all the people involved instead one main author. I also love all “spot the Led Zeppelin” references (at first i thought it was just me! The Easter Island “obelisk” is my fave). Oh and the period and location accuracy of the No Means No and DOA flyers!

Sharon Welbourne

6 April 2024

I have been hoping that Rat Park would have been published by now with one of Canada’s big name houses. It’s such an excellent illustrative essay of the ground breaking experiment in substance addiction. Keep up with what you’re doing!


23 December 2023

You are awesome. Please keep doing what you're doing.


7 December 2023

the studies are portrayed in such a witty manner and the book looks wonderful, kudos!


19 June 2022

Patricia Hadaway was my mum. And in fact my first job as a teenager was working in rat Park.


2 September 2021

Hi there First well done! Terrific. Detailed and thoughtful. I am also impressed with your including some funky Vancouver landmarks and such that are not only accurate but consistent with the vernacular of the subject matter. The Rio theater, the DOA poster ( a well know Vancouver punk band), the Gastown lights. There is probably more I haven't yet noticed. This all from a talented artist from Australia!

Henry McMillan

30 August 2021

Love the cartoons.


19 February 2021

Thank you for your wonderful cartoons


11 July 2019

Hey there! I love your Rat Park comic! I currently work at a mens sober living facility in Vermont and would love to print it out of the guys to have. I think it could be motivational. Is there a way I can print it out or purchase it?


19 June 2019

Writing a dissertation on the War on Drugs right now and stumbled on Alexander's Dislocation theory and got hooked! Great comic and love the Led Zeppelin Easter eggs! Keep up the good work, you've clearly got a talent for it


9 February 2019

Great work! You need to get these ideas out there to the public. \ Paul

Char Slezak

23 November 2018

is it possible to get print copies of your comics? I am a therapist who works with children and adolescents and some of them love comics. The Rat Park video could be very helpful to have in my office. Thank you. char Slezak


5 June 2018

You have solved a huge problem. In this time of "too long, didnt read" , how do you get complex ideas, with source attribution, int the hands and minds of people to distracted to learn, or too emotionally charged to consider alternative ideas? you have made it very easy to read. no long complex language. you personify many of your academic sources, making people out of faceless experts, thus making them more "us" than "they" your drawings are pleasant, even when depicting needful images of suffering. You often use familiar things, to draw attention to unfamiliar Ides.. the very epitome of short and sweet. "the school of life " and CPG Grey, On YouTube, have also succeeded in this. (recommended) folwwing your lead, tho i cannot draw, I am taking my own complex ideas, and turning them into short clear entertaining Presentations IF/when I make it your land, I want to buy you dinner, and know your thoughts. thanks for your revolutionary approach to education. Lou ALvis


9 April 2018

Oh man, this final! <3

Carol Conzelman

7 February 2018

Best books on this topic are by Johann Hari and Gabor Maté: -- Hari, Johann. 2018. Lost Connections: Uncovering the Real Causes of Depression – and the Unexpected Solutions. Bloomsbury. -- Hari, Johann. 2015. Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs. New York: Bloomsbury. -- Mate, Gabor. 2011. “Addictions Originate in Unhappiness—and Compassion Could Be the Cure.” YES! Magazine; see: -- Gabor Maté, M.D. & Peter A. Levine, Ph.D. 2010. In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction. North Atlantic Books.

Mike Campbell

3 June 2017

I'm looking for some articles that argue that drugs are the cause of addiction. I want to give them to my students and see if they can pic them apart before I present Rat Park. Most things are behind paywalls and are probably too complex for high school students. I was hopping you have come across maybe a news article that describe the pre-rat park conception of chemical dependency. I would be grateful for any way you can help.

Akshay Sharma

27 May 2017

Fantastic! It clearly explains why young guys are addicted to 'ecstasy' stuff( and porn too) and a clear need to socialize more and better. Nice work. Would expect more of such stuff


2 May 2017

Hey, I really enjoyed your comic. Would it be possible to supply a list of references or sources where you got your information. Thank you!

wm soeldner

21 April 2017


Brian Bristol

7 April 2017

More fun than reading about this line by line. Nice job. I am particularly interested in the study as it applies to many of the cubicle works in corporate America. There needs to be a rat park for the rat race :)

Evidence Indicates That Universal Basic Income Improves Human Health | Evacuate Earth

30 March 2017

[…] Meanwhile, in what has become a far too little known variation of this study, but I consider to be one of the most important ever devised, a new kind of experiment was run in an entirely different environment called ?Rat Park.? […]

Evidence Indicates That Universal Basic Income Improves Human Health

30 March 2017

[…] Meanwhile, in what has become a far too little known variation of this study, but I consider to be one of the most important ever devised, a new kind of experiment was run in an entirely different environment called ?Rat Park.? […]

Charlie Brown

29 March 2017

it was a good story but it gave me a headaches and also made me sleep a little bit

Jim Wilson

29 March 2017

Twas a spicy enough meme for me. wouild reccomend if youre addicted to heroin


24 March 2017

Hope I cannot be thought a year or so or more down the street that Now i still will have gotten into Bitcoins now man, aim I made bought several hundred in addition few plethora dollars a worth of bitcoins as some year just before. seems too late but. Although, had I no more with Mt. Gox I could have been recently screwed coming from my earnings. Maybe just as competently..


19 February 2017

That was a wonderful comic. I love you for making it.

My Sad and Frightening Evening with Dr. Diane MacIntosh - Black Sheep Gallery

18 February 2017

[…] you heard of a research referred to as ?Rat Park? from 1981 from Simon Frazier University?? I […]

Jacqueline Malkinson

16 February 2017

Food for thought - for sure!


13 February 2017

Very interested


5 February 2017

vietman war prooved his theory being right

Addiction & Social Behavior - A View From The Rat Park

30 January 2017

[…] Or this comic by Stuart McMillan. […]

30 Interesting Facts About Rats | Tru Lists

14 January 2017

[…] 17. A 1970s Canadian science experiment made drugs freely available to both caged rats and colony rats. The rats in cages developed drug habits. The rats in normal ?society? refused them. ? Source […]

Gregory Flick

14 January 2017

Yes i loved it...very informative!

Comics Journalism Index Free journalistic online comics. Listed by Author. | zihnimin çöp tenekesi

10 January 2017

[…] McMillen, Stuart: Rat Park […]


26 December 2016

Profound ideas, especially about how we seem to live free but are caged and restricted in many ways we don't even recognize.


20 December 2016

Wow, this is interesting information, thank you!


20 December 2016

quite wonderful- thank you!


8 November 2016

A new perspective, I love it.

Peter M. Simonson

5 November 2016

Great stuff from someone with 30 odd years of drug dependency

Steven N. Thomas Jr.

13 October 2016

Truly inspiring and well said. Thank you for all that you do. Keep up the great work.

April Dimond

11 October 2016

I can't believe I found this! Patricia Hadaway was an incredible woman who I had the privilege to learn from. She taught me several psych courses at Malaspina College in 89/90. Now I am embarking on my third career focusing on mental health and Addictions. I wish she was still with us so I could learn more from that most amazing woman. Thank you for your work in presenting her study is this unique comic style.


20 September 2016

Just wanted to say what a food for thought. Never though of looking at the world as a park and not a cage until now. what a wonderful effort to opening peoples eyes to the world of addiction. Love the art work and lay out of the project. And the fact that our lives should be lived as a community not to be isolated is a major factor I feel in peoples choices. LoveMyDog


16 September 2016

Lovely and eye opening. Thank you.


15 August 2016

Excellent. This has given me a totally new perspective on my own life and challenges as well. Thank you.

Dieter Ranfft

23 July 2016

finally some hope..well done and thank you.

Peter Metcalf

22 July 2016

Rockin' rats!

Bill Li

20 July 2016

10/10 Comic. Very accurate, well depicted and astounding final message.


20 July 2016

Just wanted to drop a line of encouragement for you in your efforts. Great looking artwork and the topic is stellar. Dr. Alexander's work was presented at our church in Palm Coast, FL US in support of our firm belief that life is meant to be lived in community with God and others. God has offered a way out of pain, temptation and addiction but often, the way out comes in the form of community and committed believers willing to support, encourage, and challenge one another to see the world as a park - not a cage. Well done - and thank you for making this available.

Michael Maya

25 June 2016

I found the observation interesting and would like to know more I am currently an active Heroin User.


20 June 2016

Hi. I am a mental health and addictions counselor. Is a hard copy of this comic available. I see the option for a PDF but would like a hard copy.

Are we wrong about addiction? | mind-psyience

27 May 2016

[…] you want to read a bit more about the rat park situation click here. There is also this cute comic strip about […]

Jill Lesh

22 May 2016

I am really impressed with the thought and creativity that has been put into this idea of using a cartoon to express a really important idea that impacts people all over the world. This cartoon was very well done. The artwork and the dialogue did an excellent job communicating a new way of looking at drug addiction. Thank you for this effort.

Mel Lauria

14 May 2016

Awesome implications, require more revelation and study. I like where this is going.

Kitty Antonik

10 May 2016

I've thought for yrs that those who become addicted - lose their control over drug usage - have empty lives & are seeking a substitute. I remember the self-addicted rats experiment & the hoopla it was given. Didn't recall ever hearing before reading this of Bruce Alexander's Rat Park experiment. Who/what gained by promoting the self-addicted rat image for humans while disappearing the Rat Park experiments? I suspect it was part(s) of federal government; same that initiated & has continued WarOnDrugs. Just think about it.I'm off to read more:

Nick Hall

29 April 2016

nicely done. Id just left a lengthy comment on fb about this, only to later see someone else had put a link up for this comic which describes the experiment so much better than i could.


27 April 2016



13 April 2016

Enjoyed the comic.. it calmed me down.. And reminded me of our deep social needs.. to be liked and loved and valued.


10 April 2016

Great information!! This needs to be front page stories!


3 April 2016

Great comic - breaking research down into a format that is easily understood by everyone. This is important work you're doing! Keep it up :)


1 April 2016

Great! Good job! It's easy to follow, clear and well thought.

Rat Killers |

1 April 2016

[…] Rat Park drug experiment cartoon ? ? ? Comic about a classic experiment into drug addiction science: Rat Park. Would rats choose to take drugs if given a stimulating environment and company? […]

Are you concerned about homelessness in Greensboro? | Greensboro 101

1 April 2016

[…] […]

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1 April 2016

[…] […]

Anne brackett

24 March 2016

Thank you!


17 March 2016

That was really interesting...


15 March 2016

Brilliant ..

Jacob P

3 March 2016

Loved this. Well put. Especially the words on the last cell which was very poetic.


25 February 2016

Absolutely brilliant.


22 February 2016

This was awesome.

M Gibson

20 February 2016

Well done.


19 February 2016

I think this experiment is amazing, everyone has to know it. I always was thinking people are stronger than a chemical product and they can fight again addiction. But if all society tell you, that is impossible to go out from it, instead incourage you it's giving you no exit. Really beautiful experiment!

Addiction in Relationships, Part II | Thoughts from a Counsellor

18 February 2016

[…] He decided to perform the same experiment, except with a significant change. The rat would not be alone and it would be put in an enclosure with other rats and in an environment that rats would enjoy living in. The result? The rats rarely chose the narcotic-laced water and never died from an overdose. The rats consistently chose the plain water and enjoyed the good life with their fellow rats in what came to be known as “Rat Park“. […]

Kenneth Wilson

17 February 2016

The reason is that the prevailing paradigm in most minds at that time was that addiction was a biological disease and Scientific Journals like Science and Nature would not publish his work. The peer reviewers believed that it was a disease and his findings must be a fluke. The addiction schema was developed by proponents of the AA model in 1935 when very little was understood about neurobiology, pharmacology, psychology and only now is that proposition being challenged.


17 February 2016

[…] Stuart McMillen’s comic strip break down of Rat Park. […]

Abra Vigna

10 February 2016

I've seen this before, but the last 2 times I've visited I can only see the top 2/3 of the screen. Nothing I do can make the bottom 1/3 visible. I've sent many others to look with the same problem. Is there something going on on your end?


6 February 2016

I am stunned by the result, but the over emphasis on the social factor on this research really bothered me. Yes, rats can do a cost-benefit analysis on the choices between drugs among other things, just like NORMAL humans. But I am not convinced to say this socioeconomical factor is the predominant factor that caused the addiction. Still, nice work! Eureka!

Ronald Ridley

5 February 2016

Gee, I wonder why they lost funding for the experiments. Could it be that results that might indicate a need for a more engaging society were not wanted? Could it be that only results supporting the "War on Drugs" would continue to receive funding?

Gary Michael

8 December 2015

Thank you for sharing. I was once lost in "the hopeless stigma" of addiction and homelessness. My addiction lasted 38 years and I was chronically homeless. As a recovered heroin addict I have found that a supportive community (local recovery community) benefits from others seeking the same, "a normalcy of life". I also now live in a pre-planned neighborhood built by Mobile Loaves & Fishes in Austin TX, built to benefit homeless individuals with housing and a supportive, sustainable environment. We are helping to lift over 200 chronically homeless, disabled, and some addicted individuals off of the streets in order to change their environment, so they can make a choice of their preferences - "A sense of belonging to something greater, an opportunity to help others like them .... or continue living a solitary hopeless life."

Dr pawan adatia

8 December 2015

Wonderful presentation of difficult concept


30 November 2015

This is brilliant and very well done!

Bill Scott

5 November 2015

Thanks so much for your time to break this brilliant and important work down and making it so accessible. As an addiction researcher, this really helped me bring a few big gaps in my understanding of addiction together. I'ts unfortunate that Alexander's team lost their funding. I would love to have seen a study of Wexler rats (genetically addicted ) or rats with attachment disorders would have fared in rat park? These two populations of rats would likely closely resemble what Ken Blum refers to as the reward deficiency syndrome in human genetic experiments. It has been identified that humans with addictions have under activated Default Mode Networks which significantly reduces their ability to connect with others because of excessive self-referential thoughts and negative projections of reality on to the external world. I would guess this type of addict would feel as isolated in rat park as they would in a cage and turn to dope for some relief. The Scott / Kaiser Modification of the Peniston protocol had 2x more addicts in an experimental group engaging in 12-step work (Rat Park) 1-1.5 years post treatment compared to a treatment as usually control group. We used an EEG biofeedback protocol to activate the default mode network. About 50% of addicts are born with without the ability to even feel average without substances. About another 50% (of those who chronically end up addicted) will permanently lose the ability to feel average after using for months or years. I want to be clear that I I'm not at all saying that 50% percent of people abusing drugs end up chronically addicted. The Viet Nam observations entirely match mine. These populations of addicts (about 1% of the US population) comprise the lions share of social problems and are extremely different from grandma who gets strung out on morphine from a hip replacement or from people who become addicted from excessive recreational use. These non addict addicts just need to detoxify and they'll feel at one again with those in Rat Park. Those with the Reward Deficiency syndrome appear to need some type of ongoing involvement in other oriented service in faith-based or 12-step recovery groups to keep their Default Mode Networks activated or they seem to regress back into states of disconnection. Here's a list of references to work that accomplishes that:

Rethinking Addiction

23 October 2015

[…] in the late 70’s. (For a beautifully illustrated and engaging explanation of this experiment, see this link.) In short, the research of Rat Park showed that rats in an “enriched cage” (which […]

Sufi S.

14 October 2015

It's amazing, since those who drink everyday but still go to work and have a social life and are generally positive people ain't counted as addicts. They can pay for their fix. Or as you mentioned the other addictions like the cellphone/internet addictions or so, when do we call it an addiction? Lovely work Bruce, can't wait to hear more from you and your research! I also realized when working in Afghanistan that for the first time ever you can see heroin addicts there like never before. Even if the warlords produced the stuff since years one would never seen Afghans use it themselves.. it was nothing for them and it was evil BUT somehow it has been changing since the presence of our Army and the war on drugs! I wonder what's happening to them. Also since we invested money in war on drugs the poppy growth went 600% higher than before just during my time there. I don't even dare to check it out now!Cheers!

The Failure of the Drug War and Why Drugs Should be Legal | The Bridge Between Dreams

20 September 2015

[…] experiences, perhaps I can convince you otherwise- or maybe someone else can. I invite you to read this comic about a compelling rat study regarding drug use and addiction.  I invite you, also to read this […]


13 September 2015

This study was incredible. Cages can be in institutions: home for the elderly, orphanages, displaced people.

Natalie Raiche

10 September 2015

I agree with Tiyene..... I suspect the metaphore of a sort of mental cage could be an apt way to descibe the feelings promoting addictions to more than a few...

Tiyena Krause

10 September 2015

Interesting read, loved the last bit where they related it to humans and their own cages or parks.


10 September 2015

Interesting how the comic strip points out the dangers in overgeneralization, and then proceeds to imply that the results could be overgeneralized to humans :PNevertheless it was a rather interesting comic and the experiment is worth looking further into, but it is risky make grandiose public claims without being more confident. People are much more complex than rats

Marie Hickingbotham

6 September 2015

This makes absolute sense to me

ESCAPE THE ORDINARY THOUGHTS: The Drug War Part I – Powders and Plants are scarier than Terrorists and Government Terrorists |

1 September 2015

[…] Rat Park Experiment, Stuart McMillan has created a comic easily explaining it all here – – I thoroughly recommend reading it all the way through, but here I will quote it and spoil […]


28 August 2015

Thank you for this. It was really easy to understand the research study with rats and drugs. I found it interesting! Visual learner I am!


25 August 2015

Thanks for this. I'm not good at understanding research, but this format was so clear to me and hopefully others where I live!

Duc Le Minh

17 August 2015

This is great!

Thomas Plachira

17 August 2015

Awesome!! Please keep more coming!


11 August 2015

The one thing that stands out most about Rat Park experiment is how humans and rats are so very different psychologically (however, that is to be expected when comparing animals to humans, it was not an apples-for-apples experiment). The rats basic animal instinct in packs is preservation of the species. In cages the link is broke. The experiment with drugs known to produce physical and psycoative dependencies in humans is a moot point and may as well have used canaries. Rats are good for testing toxicity and potential carcinogenic effects of foods and drugs - but the rest is irrelevant. Rats probably think like rats and are oblivious to how humans think or don't care. Second, the experiment neglects the global fact of wars in paradises over the past 10 -15,000 or more years regardless of whether or not drugs were/are, or addicts involved - a war has never ceased on behalf of both parties recognizing the beauty of their surroundings...

Depressing Quotes On Rain In Comic Strips | Depression Blog

10 August 2015

[…] Rat Park drug experiment cartoon ? ? ? Comic about a classic experiment into drug addiction science: Rat Park. Would rats choose to take drugs if given a stimulating environment and company? […]

Het effect van drugs wordt grotendeels bepaald door wat je ervan verwacht |

10 August 2015

[…] verslavingsgevoeligheid wordt sterk beïnvloed door je omgeving. Dit was al duidelijk uit een serie experimenten uit de jaren zeventig, waarin één groep ratten samenleefde in een stimulerende omgeving met […]

The Intoxication Cure: Sickness, Sadness, and the Self-Medication Hypothesis | Points: The Blog of the Alcohol & Drugs History Society

6 August 2015

[…] for the rest of this amazing comic, go here: […]

Ryker Bowlby

23 July 2015

Poses some very deep questions and made me view my drug addiction from a new perspective. Was definitely a inspiration/contributing factor to kicking my drug addiction

Drug Addict Comics - Drug Rehabilitation Care

21 July 2015

[…] Rat Park drug experiment cartoon ? Stuart McMillen comics ? Comic about a classic experiment into drug addiction science: Rat Park. Would rats choose to take drugs if given a stimulating environment and company? […]

‘The opposite of addiction is connection’ | Phil Ebersole's Blog

21 July 2015

[…] in 1977, he created a “rat park”?a kind of paradise for rats?in which there was plenty of cheese, and brightly-colored objects, […]

Christina Carlowe

5 July 2015

Brilliant, comic! Brilliant experiment! Now to get it to a much larger audience... $2 what a bargain! SOLD :-)

Samantha Burns

2 July 2015

love this.i am currently overcoming an ICE addiction myself, and rehabilitating myself at my parents place rather than going to rehab, as i think that going to a place full of other recovering addicts has always tempted me more into drug use than anything.i have now been 2 months clean and nothing has ever made more sense to me than this comic.good work! keep it going!

Darmeshia Roberson

1 July 2015

I believe if a person has a strong support system and great resourses with will and determentation thay can over come addiction. For a person to be trapped in a cage is simply falung for every liquor store on each corner, guns/drugs, fast food resturants.


22 June 2015

Its the same thing as putting people in projects and other blighted areas surrounding them with liquor stores, unhealthy food,guns and drugs.


19 June 2015

very nice work, love all of it!Nice Physical Graffiti & LZ4 cameos. Also is that John Bonham as the bartender =)

Marcos Fernandes: Haddad acerta no problema do crack | CEPESP

10 June 2015

[…] enviesado e achismo etílico de boteco, valeria a pena ver um experimento ? explicado em cartoon para os mais preguiçosos ? de Hart e outros pesquisadores […]


10 June 2015

I know Bruce Alexander's experiment can also apply to humans. I once lived in a self imposed cage of self isolation because I knew no better. That was then, now I'm seeking freedom and trying to help others find it as well.


7 June 2015

Hi,Well done! I'm a psychologist who started work at a prison (many moons ago) - so many offenders landed up there due to their drug addiction. Many died from OD's not long after their release. Sad stories that I still haven't quite been able to explain.

My Drug Period - Stuart McMillen blog

29 May 2015

[…] period’, I refer to the 12 months I spent researching, writing and drawing War on Drugs and Rat Park. Prior to those comics, I had written comics mostly about ecology and the natural […]

The making of Peak Oil comic #3: snags and delays

29 May 2015

[…] Oil was released in May 2015, nearly two years after my previous major comic Rat Park (May 2013). Why such a long time between […]


14 May 2015

I'm so excited about this webcomic! I'm a nursing student preparing a psych presentation, and was looking for a graphic related to Prof. Alexander's work. I am SO glad to have found your wondrous depictions! Thank you, thank you, thank you! I will be supporting your work, and sharing it on all my social media. <3


13 May 2015

Hello:The investigation seems to me to be very interesting, would they have the comic in Spanish?.Thank you very much.From Chile

Randall Mendez

12 May 2015

excellent way to enlighten a friend struggling with addiction, that it's not all the person's fault

Eric D Fortune

12 May 2015

Loved this. Thank you. and sharing

Cynthia Erickson

11 May 2015

Great story. Well done

Bruno Longo

9 May 2015

Awesome work!

kudzai mungani

7 May 2015

lovely work,mers,erising artwork,educational theme and a classic ending.u hv it all man!!!!


6 May 2015

This should be taught in all high schools exactly in this method. I am 65 and have gained new understanding about others because of this information.

Evidence that Cannabis does not inherently harm young people | Vancouver Dispensary Coalition

27 April 2015

[…] […]

Evidence that Cannabis does not inherently harm young people | VAMCD

26 April 2015

[…] […]


19 April 2015

I really love this. From the beginning I suspected something similar would happen. I also love the Led Zeppelin symbols at the end. I wish this won't be unseen. Big up!

Clark Kent

18 April 2015

Great comic, and great way to present complicated research! Please put a question mark at the very end! It's a question, and we should be encouraged to think about it!

Suhas Mohan

17 April 2015

I love dank maymays!!! Heroin is the dankest maymay of them all!!!!!!


17 April 2015

This is fantastic! Thank you for making this.

theresia mallee

11 April 2015

fantastic! translate in other languages and we could use it here in france against the stupidity in its education about drugs. here they still perscripe subitex against 'canabis addiction' and make junkies out of smokers.

Dr. Ken Wilson

6 April 2015

My innocence was shattered in grad school, where I discovered that the search for truth was really about getting grants. I've been in the addiction treatment field for 35 yrs. How many lives were lost because this information did not make it into the U.S. info mainstream? I have come to similar conclusions but from a different perspective. Glad someone turned me onto this data.

dee-dee stout

1 April 2015

Sure wish I had been taught the 'rest of the story' of the rat experiments (ie, Dr. Alexander's part) back during my AOD studies classes. And isn't it interesting that I/we were not??

jude doyle

30 March 2015

this was very freaky and interesting. I'm glad I read this.

1p ? Rat Park ? the fundamental flaw in the way we think about addiction – Exploding Ads

29 March 2015

[…] […]

Steven Werfel

28 March 2015

great job explain this!

Rehab a New Way: How to Rebuild Your Life | Supine Musings…NEW and IMPROVED Tales from OFF the Couch!

23 March 2015

[…] my thoughts, beliefs and ideas and are doing work that changes the world. I found other books, research and websites and devised a simple mission statement: to save the world through nature and art. […]

Rat Park: Why the causes of addiction might just be influenced by the quality of our cages. | Ask the Navigator

23 March 2015

[…] Also, An online comic that explains the history of “Rat Park” and what its creators learned ab…. […]

Bill Israel

16 March 2015

Fascinating research. I want to follow this where ever it goes.

Bill Israel

16 March 2015

Stunning information from this work - though it is plain to see when one looks

different worlds

14 March 2015

Except we live in different worlds. Some of us have enough money and good health to get out of our cages and do things with others in the play park. For others who have bad health, lack of transport or mental health problems, that is just too difficult. Excellent cartoon, though.

know truth

14 March 2015

This is great thank you could you do one on project paper clip and mkultra

Kar Ericson

13 March 2015

I've been hearing about "rat park" listening to Johan Hari lately and was so pleased to find this comic interpretation! I've shared it with my social groups online and hope that they continue to spread it far and wide. This story needs to understood broadly and this medium takes it far in that direction. Thank you!

Paul Harkin

12 March 2015

This is an amazing, powerful and faithful breakdown of Rat Park that is easy for folks to understand. Fantastic work Stuart. I hope it is distributed widely - it can really help blow up the myths and misunderstandings that are part of the dominant social understanding of drug addiction. It is a great companion piece to Dr Carl Hart's book "High Times". Thank you so much for your work on this.


11 March 2015

This comic beautifully explains the issue. I'll be linking it in an article discussing drug decriminalisation if that's all right. Thank you!

Dislocation Theory of Addiction | The Stranded

10 March 2015

[…] than not, as a blunt instrument in the hands of ignorant politicians. The comic above is taken from The “Rat Park” experiment which turns the traditional arguments about addiction in rodent populations on their head – […]

Michelle Carras

9 March 2015

I study video game addiction, and this comic is just fantastic for bringing into better light the importance of social isolation and other aspects of setting. OK to use clips with citation in my presentations?

John Valentine

7 March 2015

well done

Chris Garvey

28 February 2015

Great work, despite my tech quibbles.

Chris Garvey

28 February 2015

Hard to read in Firefox. Top & bottom Banners take 1/3 vertical screen. Can't see complete vertical frame. Ctrl - makes it too small to read. Ctrl + makes it even smaller. Post Comment button is off screen.Google Chrome is better.


27 February 2015

love it. This is the real deal.

Hpung Awng

24 February 2015

From my experiences, i had seen many addiction people and within my relatives. Some are heroin addicted, some are alcholic, and drugs. Any kind of addiction dangerous for our society. It's kill our generation and our dignity. Don't try it.

MMJ 101: Are You Worried About Becoming Addicted? | Alex and Ania Splain You a Thing

23 February 2015

[…] The study failed to take into account that rats are social creatures. Applying it to humans, it was the equivalent of giving drugs to inmates in solitary confinement. The psychological impact of this was not taken into account. A second series of studies compared results with rats that were kept in a more pleasing community environment. Although the study was shut down before enough data could be collected, the gathered results show evidence that in a positive psychological environment simple availability is not enough to foster or maintain addiction. This comic does a great job of explaining the experiment and the results. […]


17 February 2015

Oh, the last panel! It made me question myself as well as the drug policies we seem to have in place in different nations.Thank you for such a brilliant comic on the rat park experiments. Well done.

Rat Park | Education by Credo

13 February 2015

[…] teacher Scott Miller recently sent me this link to a graphic novel about a psychology experiment. A graphic novel! I didn’t know anything […]


12 February 2015

Excellent, my son !

Steven Rendina

8 February 2015

Great insight! I want to use this information in my Drugs and Behavior classes.

Gregor Kitzis

7 February 2015

I finally see myself. Truly eye opening...

Rottepark eksprimentet | Ruskulturhistorie

7 February 2015

[…] bare det å bli eksponert for rusmidler kan føre til tap av kontroll. På slutten av 70-tallet ble eksprimentene gjentatt, men med en avgjørende forskjell som endret […]

La causa más probable de la adicción ha sido descubierto, y no es lo que usted piensa | sal de la droga

7 February 2015

[…] He aquí un cómic ilustrado interesante sobre el parque de la rata “the rat park”: […]

Rikke Kiil

4 February 2015

Great I love it and do you have more about the adiction question?

Madeline O'Connor

2 February 2015

Love the cartoon! As a family doctor treating addiction, I hear sad stories all the time ... Rarely do people get involved with substance abuse when they are happy and well adjusted. A similar "experiment" was conducted on US servicemen who went to Vietnam in the 60's, where heroin was used freely by many GIs. Upon their return, only a small percent remained addicted. Note to S - naltrexone is the oral version of Nalonone. If the rats were consuming a mixture orally, it would be naltrexone, not Naloxone in the mix.

Julian Buchanan

2 February 2015

It?s a brilliant cartoon comic strip - well done.I?ve donated and I?ll use the pdf in teaching -thank you.However, I was disappointed with the final two slides, they misleadingly suggest the way we ?see? the world is what makes the difference. When it?s much more to do with the depravity, alienation and isolation of the world people actually ?experience?, and not simply the way they perceive world. So important point - I would suggest you change ?seeing? to ?experiencing?.

Online Comics - Rat Park - Just A Platform

1 February 2015

[…] Read the rest of the Rat Park comic by Stuart McMillen. […]


1 February 2015

It would be fascinating to see this effect also holds for other addictive drugs like amphetamines that cause energetic euphoria. Morphine may deter play among socializing rats, but presumably an amphetamine could boost their enjoyment and have the opposite effect.

End of January 2015 | Fiona's School Blog

30 January 2015

[…] topics that have come up in the past couple of weeks … the Underground Railroad, Bruce Alexander’s “Rat Park” experiments concerning addiction and social deprivation, various conversations about social […]

Guiomar Enriquez

29 January 2015

Being a psychology student I've found your comic (and the investigation depicted in it) very interesting and well explained.Thank you very much, anyways, I think it would be even greater if you linked the investigation article to the comic.

Rat Park drug experiment cartoon ? Stuart McMillen comics |

29 January 2015

[…] […]

Nick Pope

26 January 2015

Having mostly felt to be an "outsider" from a very early age (Primary School) where most of the kids came from the opposite end of the village & my being excluded from their games. Late teenage years became those of a heroin addict living in squats and definitely part of the "underclass." I wanted nothing to do with the trappings of success and had the viewpoint of a cynic. 30 years later I am now free of heroin addiction whilst enjoying very much the effects of the opiate rich pain killers I try not to get physically addicted to them & if I do have to endure a small withdrawal try to find something enjoyable to do for the process like a camping weekend on my motorcycle. I am now married, own my own home & have a fantastic motorcycle! Heroin does still attract me when I feel I need somewhere warm and cosy to curl up & forget my troubles. But it simultaneously appears as a dark forbidding cave that there may be no escape from.

Bruce Sewick

26 January 2015 Rat Park


25 January 2015

People with a strong support system (park) will always fare quite well regardless of traumas they might encounter. They feel supported. People without it, will not, will be depressed or resort to other evasive methods; they are more prone to other not so healthy methods and will fare far worse than their counterparts. I see it daily.


23 January 2015

X/ref from Wikipedia.Impressed by your work.

Rat Park Study | Vancouver Mental Health

22 January 2015

[…] To read a more in-depth explanation of Professor Alexander?s ?Rat Park? experiment, check out this Stuart McMillen comic. […]

What can a park for rats teach us? | Creative Solutions Counselling

22 January 2015

[…] If you would like to know more, I highly recommend this article. And, you can also read this comic book version of Rat Park. […]


21 January 2015

Very well done sir, well done indeed.

Finding Rat Park - Mad In America

20 January 2015

[…] (For an excellent portrayal of Bruce Alexander?s ?Rat Park? study on addiction, click here.) […]


15 January 2015

I love this so much thank you for creating this! Just one caveat, I think you might mean Naloxone instead of Naltrexone. Super easy to confuse. Amazing work!


15 January 2015

I loved it, but alas, i dont have the money to donate. Keep it up!

Comics Journalism Index | Lukas Plank

11 January 2015

[…] McMillen, Stuart: Rat Park […]


8 January 2015

I wan't to thank you for this fantastic cartoon. It made me realise lots about my life in an truly easy way. I can share this with friends and family and I think they also will have an easier time understanding how my life have been and how it is now. THANKS!Here's a shortshortshort (but still a bit long) history of my life.I'm a boy that just turned 19. I wouldn't say I've been an heavy addict but I have smoked weed for a year now. My life have been truly terrible and most of my life I seriously wanted to eighter die or leave this planet. From i was 4 I lived on a smal island called Herøy. I can remember being shut out of the social groups pretty early and after reading this comic I can say that the island was like an cage for me. We moved from a little city called Vinstra and all the years I lived on Herøy I thought back on my friends and the happy life I had back there. When my life was truly terrible I just wanted to end my life, for some reason I got in contact with an old friend from Vinstra. We talked and played games online with eachother. I and my parents arranged a tripp for me so I could travel down and meet him. He had talked positivly about me and the kids there received me like a hero. I remember being truly addicted to the thought of moving from the island to the city. Unfortunately everyone, the grownups, the political system and so on stood in my way, forcing me to stay on the island and in the social groups over there. Being all alone had an horrible effect on me and when I finally was able to move away from the island I had no idea of how to be a social person. I started smoking weed and I became addicted. Not by the buzz but by the plants ability to make me sleep and not having to think about my life. But I didnt only smoke weed to sleep, I also smoked weed because I liked the buzz and it made me less socially awkward, which led to people wanting to comunicate with me. This became my new addiction. I thought I had to smoke weed to actually become socially accepted. I didnt care if most of society looked at me as a criminal. The few friends I was able to get and keep made me happy.Nowadays I easily avoid weed because it made me relax and it gave me the opportunity to become an social accepted person. I now have normal friends, I'm confident and the earth smiles to me every day.I just had to write my story because it's scary to see how familiar it is to this cartoon.

My kid will be voting soon… | NZ Fiendishly Fiends Fabricated Withdrawal Fables

7 January 2015

[…] even paid for the PDF download. You should too. Print it and leave it around the […]


7 January 2015

Once again, thanks. Have been bashing my head into brick walls for years to get this out there. Globalization of Addiction: the post-Rat Park research of Bruce Alexander. Even paid for PDF download! Do it people. Support this guy.


5 January 2015

So interesting! Will chew on this for some time...

Gavin Lindsay

4 January 2015

This is a very informative story. Well done for making it so accessible. If only it would influence the general public and then we might change the status quo of criminalising drug usage.


4 January 2015

As a fan both of science, and opiate drugs, this is a very interesting, could-be world-changing experiment. I've often said that drug addiction is an intrinsic part of being a mammal. We're genetically programmed to chase our endorphins (from "endogenous morphine"), since that's how our eating and mating behaviour is encouraged, which from a genetic point of view is a strong motivation. Then again, so is socialisation. Perhaps that's part of the answer. People with enough "genetic rewards", people who eat well and are loved and socialise and have satisfactory lives, don't need to artificially increase their endorphin / morphine levels. For a substance that's so "seductive", ask most people if they'd like being an addict. It's only a special few who do.And I've often observed, I never met a junkie who didn't have problems before the drugs. Thanks Prof Alexander, and thanks Stuart for putting important science into such an easily understood format. These are the imporant parts of science, the hypothesis, the experiment, and the conclusion (or possible conclusion). Brilliant comic!

Chris Petts

4 January 2015

Brilliantly explained and illustrated, and great layout too. How did you come up with/ produce the web layout?Great stuff.


4 January 2015

Fantastic stuff! Thanks so much.


4 January 2015

Fantastic stuff! Thanks so much


28 December 2014


A dependência química e sua implicação moral | Libertando Ideias

23 December 2014

[…] sobre a pesquisa, há uma HQ em inglês bem didática que resume tais experiências, basta clicar aqui). “Os ratos que continuam a pressionar a alavanca para obter cocaína são os únicos que […]

Mike McGrath

16 December 2014

Great review lending perspective to complexity of addiction. Issue of the possibly uniquely human inherited/early experience brain vulnerability complicates our limited understanding of addiction. I believe addiction in a brain illness. The brain being the organ which creates and sustains or interaction with self, others and the environment.

Michael Garfield

12 December 2014



9 December 2014

Fantastic portrayal of an enlightening study. I loved your ending.


9 December 2014

As someone with friends and family members who are and have struggled with opiate addiction, this sheds new light on what might be going on in their lives.


6 December 2014

lovely comic, makes one think!


1 December 2014

I loved this . very persuasive and beautifully drawn. thx.

Letter to Health and Disability Commission | NZ Fiendishly Fiends Fabricated Withdrawal Fables

27 November 2014

[…] ONE CORS. You can thank me for reading all the works of Bruce K Alexander (RAT PARK et al) later. Saves you the bother. Copies now available at Wellington public library. Bruce has […]

Susan Mackey

6 November 2014

I think the concept of human contentedness and feeling a genuine connection to family and friends is absolutely tantamount to a successful human being and a pointer as to why so many adolescents fall into addictions; they are so vulnerable to isolation, not fitting in etc.

Beverley Karagianis

5 November 2014

Very good analogy. It gave me a broader perspective on drug addiction.


29 October 2014

This is awesome, and it raises a lot of questions for me being a drug addiction researcher. Great job!


27 October 2014

Really insightful comic. I'm loving the Led Zeppelin references!


21 October 2014

Very interesting comic!!!!! fun to read too. It is a great insight to the world of drug addiction.


20 October 2014

Great Comic! I truly believe that your surroundings effect drug addiction! Real.

Rufus Thomas Freeman

16 October 2014

The research was cruel. The research was approached with good intentions. The results conclude that being isolated in the midst of drugs can be deadly. Humans are as vulnerable to drug addiction as rats, because, they both have a sense of belonging somewhere, and when that is taken away each of them can become a victim of drug usage. The experiment shows that humans and rats can both be destroyed from being isolated in a drug infested society.

Rufus Freeman

16 October 2014

I thought the research approach in "Rat Park" seemed a bit cruel, but was approached with decent intentions.The conclusions that can be drawn from the results of the experiment are that when an animal is cut off from it's natural habitat, the animal becomes lost and vulnerable. Also the access to a source of drugs to numb the feeling of depression and sadness is more likely to attract the victim of isolation from their normal social atmosphere to indulge in hope of finding peace . I do believe that the results of "Rat Park" can be generalized to humans as well as rats, because regardless if it is a rat or a human, being caged and separated from one's familiar surrounding can bring on some challenging events. I think that even in today's society, it is as the experiment showed, that those who are fortunate enough to be part of a good and sound society has a much better chance for survival than those who do not.


7 October 2014

I thought the message was going to be political: Arguing the case to legalise drug use. I was therefore pleasantly surprised by the ending. My experience with drugs bears out this idea that the attraction of drugs drops away with that change of consciousness: Victim to one who loves the adventure of life. A change of physical and social environment results but isn't the cause!


6 October 2014

Definitely using this a teaching tool in psychology classes. Thank you!


4 October 2014

This comic was awesome! Surprisingly enough, my Bio professor had us read this for a quiz. Great choice, Professor Bull.

Benjamin Dolby

3 October 2014

really good comic

Devone swain

23 September 2014

It was a good comic

Kanisha Mojica

23 September 2014

Comming from someone who experimented on rats and to see what they do is alot of work to do, I really liked the story, I love comics its easier for me to read, if there was more even for homework or class assignments i would do it.

Thomas Therrien

22 September 2014

Thats life!!!


20 September 2014

this comic was bad idunt liekd it


6 September 2014

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.


28 August 2014

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


12 August 2014

Absolutely beautiful. Great job.


31 July 2014

Wonderful illustration.For those interested in a well-researched paper on the social factors in addiction, see


25 July 2014

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.

Nat Turner

24 July 2014

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?

gen kan

11 July 2014

absolutely amazingly told story

Dr. Richard Wilmot Ph.D.

10 July 2014

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.


4 July 2014

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

If I were in charge… - Shane's Soapbox

3 July 2014

[…] doesn’t come from drug addiction nearly so much as it comes from feeling trapped and useless (see the rat park research). One half of that equation is being unable to fend for oneself – unemployable, […]


17 June 2014

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.-

Rat Park: A Comic About Drug Addiction

16 June 2014

[…] minimal contact with that sort of world myself, I was wondering what other people thought about it. Rat Park drug experiment cartoon: A comic by Stuart McMillen Reply With […]


10 June 2014

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)

I'd like to remain anonymous

10 June 2014

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! :(


10 June 2014

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

Bertelsen. Ole.

19 May 2014

Honour to these scientists!

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

16 May 2014

[…] comic is called, like Alexander?s experiments, Rat Park.  It begins by recounting the laboratory research performed on caged rats in the 1950s and 60s […]

Pierre Clouthier

14 May 2014

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


14 May 2014

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.

Kevin Nauss

1 May 2014

I think you just changed my life. Thank you.

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

23 April 2014

[…] the Taboo too. Understand the manipulations present in past drug research – for example, read this comic to see how research has been used to produce desired conclusions and then the correcting studies […]


21 April 2014

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


7 April 2014

Very informative, and haunting conclusion.


6 April 2014

Thank you for creating this visual!

Rob Parkinson

30 March 2014

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.


30 March 2014



28 March 2014

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:

Crystal Williams

28 March 2014

This was simply amazing.

Atle Beckmann

17 March 2014

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;

Emmanuel Lugo

16 March 2014

Really good. Made me think allot!

16 March 2014

Every city is a cage.Richard Manning on the Psychosis of


12 March 2014

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.


6 March 2014

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

Rats, Drugs and Free-Range Kids : Free Range Kids

26 February 2014

[…] — I was looking up “rat experiments” (don’t ask!) and came upon this incredible comic by Stuart McMillen, tracing the lure of drugs on two sets of rats: One group held in isolated […]

astra jimmy

18 February 2014

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


18 February 2014

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


13 February 2014

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


11 February 2014

Awesome... extremely good..!!


2 February 2014

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).


2 February 2014

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!

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

31 January 2014

[…] résultat est présenté dans une bande-dessinée (en anglais, […]


30 January 2014

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

Altered States and the Brain | Sarah Hillenbrand

22 January 2014

[…] about whether recreational drug use is for kids without better options, as the much-ballyhooded rat park studies suggest, or whether it’s for kids who can afford it (or have the time, or feel […]


21 January 2014

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

Cornelius Gouws

17 January 2014

Great cartoon. Do you take bitcoin donations?


16 January 2014

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

Erin Hardy

15 January 2014

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

Michael Robinson

2 January 2014

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!!

Cathy Minard

30 December 2013

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.

Jo McKillop

22 December 2013

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.

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

13 December 2013

[…] can read more about Rat Park in the original scientific report. A good summary is in this comic by Stuart […]

Siby Cherian

12 December 2013

Very informative and the message is clear and simple


9 December 2013

To know more about what Prof Bruce Alexander did next, read this blog post: The Post-Rat Park research of Bruce Alexander. I highly recommend reading his book The Globalization of Addiction. One of the best things I've read in recent years.

Addiction | Caustic Soda

9 December 2013

[…] Rat Park (comic) […]


9 December 2013

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.


8 December 2013

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?

Weekend Reading 12/6/13 | Sightline Daily

6 December 2013

[…] In the late 1970s, researchers at Simon Fraser University in British Columbia did some fascinating research on drug addiction. The researchers looked at how rats in cages responded to morphine, compared with rats housed in a specially constructed ?rat park? ? a veritable rodent playground, with aromatic wood shavings, toys, and plenty of space to socialize and raise young. And they found that, unlike their counterparts in sterile cages, rats living in the ?rat park? weren?t particularly susceptible to drug addiction. This, of course, raises the possibility that drug addiction in humans is as much a response to stress and isolation as to the drugs themselves. I?ve seen a couple of recent articles on the topic, but none as effective as this cartoon narrative of the Rat Park experiments. […]


6 December 2013

Loved it, Thank-you.


6 December 2013

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

Lonnie Williams

4 December 2013

What happened to dr. Alexander and his crew?

Is an impoverished social and physical environment the root cause of addiction? | Exopermaculture

3 December 2013

[…] can read more about Rat Park in the original scientific report. A good summary is in this comic by Stuart […]


3 December 2013

absolutely fantastic!


3 December 2013

This is such an awesome comic! And based on awesome research. I'm a psychology junkie, so I really like this kind of thing. The 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!

Joe Grammer

2 December 2013

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.

Taylor H.

2 December 2013

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.

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

30 November 2013

[…] A really interesting read by Stuart McMillen […]


29 November 2013

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.

Choices, addictions and vulnerability. | Dream Or Dare

29 November 2013

[…] […]


28 November 2013

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.


27 November 2013

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!

Lee Monaghan

27 November 2013

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.

薬物中毒の原因を生活環境にあると考えた「ラットパーク」実験とは? | 合法パウダー専門店「ゼウスジャパン」

26 November 2013

[…] Rat Park drug experiment cartoon ? Stuart McMillen comics […]


25 November 2013

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


23 November 2013

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.

Rat Park Experiment | abeautifulandcrazymind

20 November 2013

[…] Rat Park Experiment […]


17 November 2013

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


16 November 2013

Thanks, this made think about my own situation.


11 November 2013

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.


7 November 2013

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

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

6 November 2013

[…] can read more about Rat Park in the original scientific report. A good summary is in this comic by Stuart […]


6 November 2013

great story. can we change our society now?


1 November 2013

Really enjoyed that. Thanks!


22 October 2013

Thank you

Frazer Kirkman

17 October 2013

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.

Prostitution in Norwegen, sexuelle Unterdrückung & Menstruationsgebiete « Reality Rags

15 October 2013

[…] Comic über das Rat Park […]


13 October 2013

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.

Do you live in a cage or a park? | tyblu

9 October 2013

[…] Rat Park drug experiment cartoon, by Stuart McMillen […]

Kampen mot missbruk | Här står jag.

8 October 2013

[…] kan läsa mer om Rat Park-experimentet i den vetenskapliga rapporten, eller i serieformat av Stuart […]


7 October 2013

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?


6 October 2013

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

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

2 October 2013

[…] original scientific report. A good summary is in this comic by Stuart […]

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

1 October 2013

[…] can read more about Rat Park in the original scientific report. A good summary is in this comic by Stuart […]

Challenging ideas? Try communicating visually. | Fourfoldway

1 October 2013

[…]   […]


1 October 2013

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


1 October 2013

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...


1 October 2013

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.


1 October 2013

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.


1 October 2013

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.


1 October 2013

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..


1 October 2013

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?

Shanell McKinnon

1 October 2013

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


1 October 2013

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.

Shirley Adams

30 September 2013

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.


30 September 2013

I Agree with with Tony B.

Charlie Farlie

30 September 2013

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

Charlie Farlie

30 September 2013

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

Charlie Farlie

30 September 2013

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 i feel what your saying is wrong just my opinion

Charlie Farlie

30 September 2013

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

Charlie Farlie

30 September 2013

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.

Charlie Farlie

30 September 2013

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.


30 September 2013

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


30 September 2013

Same thought, this was a very nice story!


30 September 2013

Drugs are a choice whether your isolated or not ...not saying it's easy but it's a choice


30 September 2013

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


30 September 2013

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

Imprisoning Addiction | Unruly Bodies

30 September 2013

[…] recently ran across an article, and a comic describing an experiment that redefines how we think about addiction. The basic gist is that it […]

michael b

30 September 2013

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

michael b

30 September 2013

i think that would be great to see what happens to!

michael b

30 September 2013

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

Tony B

29 September 2013

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

Tony B

29 September 2013

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

Tony B

29 September 2013

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

Mary Shaw

29 September 2013

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.


29 September 2013

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


28 September 2013

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


28 September 2013

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


28 September 2013

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


28 September 2013

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 :)


28 September 2013

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

Addiction Rehab Centers Blog » Blog Archive » The Causes of Drug Addiction are Complex

28 September 2013

[…] Comic panels, by Stuart McMillen, of the rat park drug addiction experiment, see the full comic. […]


27 September 2013

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


27 September 2013

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?


27 September 2013

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

Charlie Farlie

27 September 2013

This was and interesting read i totally agree with you.


27 September 2013

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.


27 September 2013

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.


27 September 2013

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

Understanding Addiction: Rat Park | Life in Balance

27 September 2013

[…] Here is an interesting illustrated comic about the rat park: […]


27 September 2013

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


27 September 2013

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

amira 1

27 September 2013

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

amira 1

27 September 2013

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


27 September 2013

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


26 September 2013

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


26 September 2013

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


26 September 2013

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


26 September 2013

Thank you for this. It was beautifully done.


26 September 2013

It's a shame that these experiments were discontinued.

Is addiction a rational choice? | Recovery Continuum

26 September 2013

[…] is referring to the delightful 1970?s Rat Park experiments of Bruce Alexander ? who after a long hiatus has recently returned to the addictions field with his book the […]


25 September 2013

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 socialand 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.

M Henri Day

25 September 2013

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

Miss Kris

22 September 2013

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.

Bait and switch. | Memo Of The Air

22 September 2013

[…] Rat Park addiction study in comic form. (Note translucent arrow buttons at top left and top right, to page forward or backward.) […]

What We’re Up Against Dept.: Let The Real Education Begin | SUPERVERSITY

21 September 2013

[…] the systems in place to enable that authority’s existence and how to override them? With this comic by Stuart McMillen you can see how close we are to being powerless rats and how we can at last attain the power that […]

webcomic interesante, para pensar | Alfil Negro

21 September 2013

[…] […]

Links 7 ? 21/9/13 | Alastair's Adversaria

21 September 2013

[…] Alexander?s Rat Park: a ratty paradise that challenges our assumptions about addiction (and a 40-page comic about the […]

Todd Huffman

20 September 2013

Thank you,

Denying Global Warming: The Definition Of Evil | Ferrett Steinmetz

20 September 2013

[…] Here.  Have a really great link that describes the experiment in comic-style. […]

Abhilash jayachadran

19 September 2013

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.

Samuel Crabtree

19 September 2013

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.


19 September 2013

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


19 September 2013

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


19 September 2013

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 are not 'sick' you are getting well and it's just so much better on this side of that dark wall.

Lin Myers

19 September 2013

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!!


18 September 2013

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.


18 September 2013

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.

Edward Murphy

18 September 2013

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.

Edward Murphy

18 September 2013

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.


18 September 2013

I really enjoyed your comic! Addiction can be a perception of personal limitation.The world is your sea. Limitless.


18 September 2013

as an addict this speaks true to my experiences.early in life it was fun. then it wasn'ta 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.]


18 September 2013

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'.

Lia Craven

18 September 2013

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

Mik Legrady

17 September 2013

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


17 September 2013

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

Michael Gilbert

17 September 2013

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


17 September 2013

This is lovely. Thank you.

Nature of Addiction | KIA Illuminated Adepts

17 September 2013

[…] reading very interesting comic strip on morphine addiction in rats  I began researching subject of addiction  a little further by following links at the bottom of the […]

Matthew Marucci

17 September 2013

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

It’s not the addiction, it’s the size of the cage | slothed

17 September 2013

[…] can read more about Rat Park in the original scientific report. A good summary is in this comic by Stuart […]


16 September 2013

Incredible, thank you very much.

Tim Brown (@keyofnight)

16 September 2013



16 September 2013

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

La globalización de la adicción y el experimento del Parque de las Ratas | Observatorio Cannábico

16 September 2013

[…] Globalization of Addiction. Puede entenderse excelentemente y de modo resumido a través de Rat Park, el cómic elaborado por Stuart McMillen. Le da publicidad […]

Bjørn Eriksen

16 September 2013

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


16 September 2013

speaking as a heroin addict- very insightful and inspiring.

Frederick Harrison

15 September 2013

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?


14 September 2013

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.


14 September 2013

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.


14 September 2013

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!


14 September 2013

this was great! insightful!


13 September 2013

Excellent! Thanks


13 September 2013

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

Drug addiction: The complex truth « Mind Hacks

13 September 2013

[…] can read more about Rat Park in the original scientific report. A good summary is in this comic by Stuart McMillen. The results aren’t widely cited in the scientific literature, and the […]


13 September 2013

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.

Some Bloke

12 September 2013

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.


12 September 2013

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


11 September 2013

beautifully told thank you


11 September 2013

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.


11 September 2013

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

Ove Frederiksen

10 September 2013

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


10 September 2013

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 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!!

Helen Wilson

10 September 2013

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.


10 September 2013

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.


10 September 2013

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.


3 September 2013

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.


26 August 2013

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?

Tim Wilson

24 August 2013

I knew those rats personally.

Rat Park: Addiction Research You May Not Know | Recovery in Oklahoma

17 August 2013

[...] As expected, the rats in the cages enjoyed and consumed large amounts of the liquid morphine, supporting the belief about the inherent additive nature of the substance. But the rats in park didn’t support that belief. They were resistant to self-administration of morphine. The researchers even forced some rats to become addicted by administering morphine for 57 consecutive days. When those dependent rats were placed in the rat park, many still resisted self-administration of the drug. There’s a great comic rendition of the research at Stuart McMillen’s blog. [...]

Rat Park and the More Beautiful World | Connection Action Project

13 August 2013

[...] is it a healthy person?s reaction to a dysfunction at the societal level? The findings of the ?Rat Park? experiments indicate that addiction comes in response to the unhealthy context in which we live. These [...]


13 August 2013

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.


24 July 2013

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.

Flo - Fraser Ross

5 July 2013

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

Elizabeth Walsh

5 July 2013

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

Povinná popularizace v?dy formou komiksu? - BROZKEFF

26 June 2013

[...] jsou velmi zajímavé a doporu?uji pro?íst si cel_ komiks, kter_ je populárn? nau?nou formou p?ibli?uje jakémukoli laikovi, by? neurazí ani v?dce. Dobré „p?írodní“ a sociální prost?edí má [...]

[INTP] Best comic ever.

23 June 2013

[...] a couple good ones out there. Rat Park by Stuart McMillan Heroes and Villains from the Common Grounds comic book series Zenpencils turns quotes into [...]


20 June 2013

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.


17 June 2013

Well done!


14 June 2013

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).

Bruce Sewick

12 June 2013

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


11 June 2013

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.

Devon Bray

11 June 2013

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.


11 June 2013

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.

Tikkunista: Week Ending June 7th « Tikkunista!

7 June 2013

[...] science, just science without consideration of its philosophical assumptions.?) A tremendous piece of art looks at the scientific process of exploring drug addiction, making it both simple and thrilling. [...]

Webcomic alert: Rat Park

7 June 2013

[...] the answer, go read this thoughtful webcomic by Australian cartoonist Stuart McMillen: Rat Park, which dramatizes the experiments. This is everything an informational comic should be: clear, well [...]


6 June 2013

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.


6 June 2013


Nicole Gertenaar

6 June 2013

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!


6 June 2013

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

Reviews June 2013 week one « Escape Pod Comics Escape Pod Comics

5 June 2013

[...] Fascinating comic on drug addiction research by Stuart McMillen sent to me by my old mate Nigel Brunsden (@Mannaz) whom I worked with at Fantastic Store [...]

Reviews June 2013 week one – Page 45 | Comics & Graphic Novels | Independent Bookshop | Nottingham Page 45 | Comics & Graphic Novels | Independent Bookshop | Nottingham

5 June 2013

[...] Fascinating comic on drug addiction research by Stuart McMillen sent to me by my old mate Nigel Brunsden (@Mannaz) whom I worked with at Fantastic Store [...]

Kreisverband Neu-Ulm

5 June 2013

[...] Abschließend noch ein englischsprachiger Comic für Menschen, denen unser Drogenprogramm zu textlastig ist: KLICK [...]


4 June 2013

Hels to open the mind's about the subject.


4 June 2013

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


4 June 2013

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


4 June 2013

Thanks! That was really well done and thought provoking.

George Costanza

3 June 2013

Very interesting comic delving into pretty unique themes. At least for comics.What's with all the Led Zeppelin references though?

michael parkinson

3 June 2013

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

Neil Frazer

3 June 2013

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.RegardsNeil

Lessons Learned, Reviewing the 22nd Week of 2013 | Cyper

3 June 2013

[...] It was annoying, depressing and making the place look more like a prison than a park. [...]

Neil Phillips

1 June 2013

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'll send Ian your link. Cheers, Neil

Michael Michalchik

1 June 2013

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:


1 June 2013

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


1 June 2013

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.


1 June 2013

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.

Mercedes Clemens

1 June 2013

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

Rats Choose Social Life over Drugs | Mad In America

1 June 2013

[...] Rat Park Comic ? [...]


1 June 2013

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...!


1 June 2013

@Patrick LibrarianI couldn't have said it better myself. Amazing piece of work.

Lev Lafayette

1 June 2013

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?

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

31 May 2013

[...] Dan pointed me to this comic that I think raises some important questions about addiction. Rat Park drug experiment cartoon ? Stuart McMillen comics. [...]


31 May 2013

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.


31 May 2013

The last panel made me cry

Jon Taylor

31 May 2013

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.

Is your life a park or is it a cage? » Larry's Log

31 May 2013

[...] Dan pointed me to this comic that I think raises some important questions about addiction. Rat Park drug experiment cartoon ? Stuart McMillen comics. [...]

Patrick R., Librarian

31 May 2013

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.

JC Winter

31 May 2013

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.

What Causes Addiction? | The Penn Ave Post

31 May 2013

[...] at 9:16 on May 31, 2013 by Andrew Sullivan Stuart McMillen has a fascinating new comic on the question. He focuses on the Rat Park research of Bruce Alexander, who compared the drug [...]

Conspiracy Theories! | Rat Park – Drug WarRant

31 May 2013

[...] Stuart has a new drug-war-related piece about the Rat Park experiments led by Professor Bruce Alexander who saw the flaw in the research [...]


31 May 2013

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!).


31 May 2013

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

Nick Barter

31 May 2013

Good one.....Our environment impacts our humanity.


30 May 2013

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


30 May 2013

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!

A 1970s Canadian science experiment made drugs freely… | Crazy Facts

30 May 2013

[...] and colony rats: The rats in cages developed drug habits. The rats in normal ‘society’ refused [...]


30 May 2013

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.


30 May 2013

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.


30 May 2013

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

Karen Foster

30 May 2013

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

Some guy

30 May 2013

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


29 May 2013


Stuart McMillen.

29 May 2013

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.


29 May 2013

This needs to be more viral for the common public.


29 May 2013

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 !


29 May 2013

That last panel hit me right in the feels...


29 May 2013

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

Mr Alebrije

29 May 2013

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


29 May 2013

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.

Megan Adam

29 May 2013

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.


29 May 2013

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)


29 May 2013

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

art appreciator

29 May 2013

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?


29 May 2013

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

Linda Weinberg

29 May 2013

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.


29 May 2013

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?

A Reader

29 May 2013

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.

Lesley Mitchell

29 May 2013

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

Jaime I

29 May 2013

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


29 May 2013

Great work.

Ard Timmerman

29 May 2013

This was great :) Thankyou!

Alyssa Blais

29 May 2013

That was amazing! Wow. Impressive.

Tim Wheaton

29 May 2013

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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