Chasing the Scream

In Chasing the scream, author Johann Hari uses the idea of addiction as a key focus in one of his chapters. The impression that addiction has not only a physical dependency but also a mental dependency is explored and also, how addiction can be influenced by a person’s environment.


For instance, a study was done where rats were placed in an empty cage and given two bottles of water, one with just water and the other with morphine. The rats were left there over a period of time and later researchers would check which bottle the rats drunk from the most. After conducting the first experiment it was concluded that the rats were addicted because of the chemical dependency. However, Bruce the main character argues that because the rats were placed in an empty cage they had nothing better to do but drink the morphine water. He was able to prove this theory with a follow up experiment identical to the first one, but making two sets of cages. One empty and one with items that rats can enjoy, such as a wheel and fun colors and other rats. The rats were all given morphine water, then after the same time elapsed, researchers noticed that the rats in the more interactive cage didn’t continue drinking any morphine water, while the empty cage had the same results as the first experiment. This gave room for the assumption that addiction can be continued by what someone is surrounded by.


Brue describes addiction, other than looking at the chemical dependency, as a “psychological state of feeling you need the drug to give you the sensation of feeling calmer, … or what ever it does for you.” This statement was the follow up response after a number of evidence were described. After reading the different proofs I cannot help but agree with Bruce. It seems that addiction is mainly psychological, with every case having a deeper situation behind. These findings are important to understand and further investigate because this could be a potential break through needed to lower the number of addicts in existence.

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