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Reflective Essay on My Newfound Knowledge of Drug Addiction

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I am here today to express my newfound knowledge of drug addiction, and how my knowledge has led me to believe how decriminalizing drug addiction is the only way to help addicts. Let’s start with what you think you know about drug addiction and what I thought I knew about drug addiction too. Let’s say the back row took heroin everyday for a week. What would happen? Well from what we have all been told, because of the chemical hooks that exist in heroin the back row would become instantly addicted right? What if I were to say that if you go to hospital for a broken bone the painkiller, they usually use is almost identical to heroin. I for one certainly know that when I broke my foot I didn’t come out of hospital as a crippling drug addict. This suggesting that not everyone who takes addictive drugs become addicts. More must be going on.

But where did this common misconception about addiction sprout from? In the 1960’s an experimenter named Calhoun did the famous rat in a cage experiment. This experiment consisted of Calhoun giving a rat a sip of heroin water and then putting it in an empty cage with two drink taps, one laced with heroin and one without. The rat always went to the drink tap laced with heroin and always ended up overdosing and as a result died. Calhoun had decided that he had discovered addiction, that’s it. Well, a decade later a Professor by the name of Bruce Alexander thought well hang on, they have nothing to do in that isolated cage. Professor Alexander decided to do the exact same experiment but instead of use an empty cage he would create a park for rats and call it Rat Park. This little fun park had plenty of other rats for the test rat to socialise with, it had tons of food and plenty of play equipment for the rat to use. The professor’s results proved his initial suspicion, now that the rats were pre-occupied no rats drank water from the heroin laced water. Quite rightly the Professor said well hang on we did this on rats and rats are very different to us humans. So the professor did a human experiment, during this experiment the Vietnam war had just ended. During this time 20% of all-American troops were using heroin on a constant basis. Professor Alexander thought lets put an end to this and test my theory with humans. So, he did the only logical thing to do and followed returned soldiers who were addicted to heroin home and realised tat they were alone, often sad and never attended rehab. This made the Professor think, what if its about our cage what if addiction is an adaptation to your environment?

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Shifting away from Professor Alexander, another Professor by the name of Peter Cohen decided that he didn’t really like the phrase addiction and that instead it be called bonding. Cohen proposed that, “Human beings have a natural and innate need to bond, and when were happy and healthy, well bond and connect with each other, but if you can’t do that, because you’re traumatized or isolated or beaten down by life, you will bond with something that will give you some sense of relief”. These other things we bond with being, drugs, alcohol, pornography or gambling.

Well let me ask you this, now that you now know how addiction really works, do you believe drug addiction should be decriminalized? Do you believe that a fine of $5000 or even two years in prison is a suitable punishment for those who are suffering? For an addict who needs a bond but can’t get one other than drugs, is a suitable response to punish them worse? Make their situation in life worse? In my opinion I believe punishment makes the problem worse. Some addicts only use a few times a week. I read about a man who was charged with a third offence drug possession and had to serve time in an Australian Prison. His own family left him. His bond vanished and I imagine you all know what bond he turned to bare life.

Drug addiction isn’t a choice. If your still not convinced with anything I’ve said, that’s fine, maybe you want some facts or statistics? Maybe you need to hear some evidence? Well in 2001 Portugal took a new approach to helping addicts and ultimately lower their stats on drugs use. This was to make all drugs legal, from heroin to crack cocaine. This may seem like a bad thing, but it worked, people who were addicted or who bonded with a drug were able to come out about their addiction get help and ultimately stop their addiction. 50% of addicts stopped using (Pause briefly). 50% (Pause briefly). Let that number sink in (Pause 5 seconds). Yet despite this number the rest of the world seems to think they have the solution. Decriminalise drugs. Make Australia a place where we can truly be ‘young and free’.

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Reflective Essay on My Newfound Knowledge of Drug Addiction. (2022, July 14). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 27, 2023, from
“Reflective Essay on My Newfound Knowledge of Drug Addiction.” Edubirdie, 14 Jul. 2022,
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