Changing my Cage....

  • By girly-d
  • On 16/09/2017

Rat's are social creatures.

It's how they roll.

In colonies they thrive and  everything in their world is tickety-boo. They hate to be alone in confined spaces with nothing to occupy their inquisitive minds. It drives them mad. Literally. So much so that, given the choice to get out of their heads on opiates in order to escape the boredom and solitude, they happily take it. Voluntarily pumping themselves chock full of morphine until they die.

But here's the thing.

If you take an addicted rat and change his environment so that he has everything he needs to thrive - Food, sex, warm house,  clean bedding, toys...and *then* offer him the opiates, he shys away. Generally choosing to go cold turkey through the horrors of withdrawal so that he can eventually enjoy all that is around him. Because he has everything he needs to be happy. And so, by default he is.

When I was in rehab, I came across "Rat Park" and it was the one thing that stuck with me. It explained my addiction perfectly. I was desperately unhappy and mentally unstable after the horrors of that year and there was no question in anyones mind that I was physically and mentally addicted to my substance of choice before I was rushed into detox.

I hated myself and I hated my life. But once I got clean and examined myself I knew that If I was going to stand any chance of recovery I needed Rat Park. And I would do whatever it took to get there.

I gritted my teeth through four months of rehab. Attended every group and learned that it was actually possible to sit with my feelings without drowning myself in alcohol. Uncomfortable,  but possible. I wrote in my diary and dealt with old ghosts. Absolutely everything I thought that I knew about myself I dissected and pulled apart. I made a clean sweep and was absolutely ruthless with things I left behind. 

I cut old ties. Moved away. Changed my mindset and my name and started to tentatively put down roots. I didn't hold onto anything unecessary from my old life. I wiped the slate and my phone clean and started over. 

It worked. I'm happy and I'm healthy and I no longer have an addiction to mind altering substances. I'm in the minority. The success rate for recovering addicts is sketchy. A lot of my friends were dropping like flies. But creating my very own Rat Park worked for me. Because I believed in the theory and  did everything in my power to change my cage....

( Evidence based on and credits to Bruce Alexanders scientific study - "Rat Park. With thanks)