The 'opposite of addiction' theory: How community can drive recovery

Updated: Sep 3, 2020

The path to recovery isn't one that can be traveled alone, studies suggest. The Greener Pastures motto is: "Recovery Thrives In Community," which is more than just a warm-and-fuzzy platitude; it is a science-backed concept that is a cornerstone of our practice and service in addiction recovery. The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it is community. This idea was first presented by author Johann Hari using the Rat Park experiment. Past studies of rats have given us a deeper understanding of addiction. Given a choice between water laced with cocaine or pure water, the experiments showed that isolated rats will often choose the drug, once they discover it. When they do, this quickly becomes a habit and they eventually ingest enough of the drug that they die. Similar experiments were done in the 1940s. However, in the 1970s, psychology professor Bruce Alexander made one major change: the rats were placed in the same cages instead of separate ones. When housed together, many of the rats tried the drug-infused water, but none of them became heavy users. They often switched back to the clean water, and there were no drug overdoses. Alexander later conducted additional studies where he placed addicted solitary rats into cages with other rats (as well as stimulation in the form of toys). The change of environment and social settings resulted in the rats no longer relying on the drug-laced water.

In the past 60 years, our experience of "community" has been nearly obliterated. Financial pressure leads us to work more hours, often in cities far from our "home town" and "tribes."

The normalization of over-scheduled kids leads us to dash from one activity to the next with a take-out dinner eaten in the car along the way. Friends and family lose touch with one another in the midst of so much busy-ness.

There is an irrational societal pressure for all of us to be doing just great - and we need to show proof of it on social media! There's an unrealistic expectation and assumption that everyone else is having an upbeat, picture-perfect life experience. Well, what if you're not?

This is all counter to our human need for real connection based on shared experience, authenticity and empathy.

  1. au·then·tic·i·ty /ˌôTHenˈtisədē/

  2. noun - the quality of being authentic.

With Greener Pastures Recovery At Home, we offer an online mindfulness-based PAT (Plant-Assisted Therapy) recovery program that adapts to your over-busy life and also offers the benefit of a private and secure connection to an authentic community.

We are growing a recovery tribe that understands and supports you because we all get it: the struggles & pitfalls, the victories & joy of your recovery journey are shared by all and we thrive in this community.

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