Providing straightforward information pertaining to drugs, drug use & drug policy. The Grey Pages promotes drug-related literacy and advocates a system of viable and tolerant drug policies. This is my personal collection of commentaries, essays, tid-bits, and other such writings on everything ranging from drug use, drug policy and drug-myths, to drug-science, addiction, human behavior, and the workings of the human brain. I started this blog with a particular focus on opioids, and over the past year have found my interest gravitate toward the intriguing, ever-changing world of designer intoxicants (i.e. "research chemicals" or "designer drugs").

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Drug Self-Administration: Rat Behavior vs Human Behavior

Most of us have heard the story of the cocaine addicted rat who continues pressing the button (for a dose of cocaine) in lieu of food until it starves to death. The idea that "addicted" drug users cannot stop or control their drug use has historically been reinforced by these observations made during animal self-administration studies.

The application of these rat studies to human models of addiction is fundamentally flawed. 

The behavior of rats cannot possibly be compared to the behavior of humans. Rats are devoid of any capacity for reason and intelligence.

Rats cannot make judgement calls and cannot logically self analyze their desires, values, priorities, emotions and life goals.

Rats are incapable of pondering the probable and/or possible future repercussions and implications of their actions. Rats are incapable of feeling guilt or regret for those actions.

Most importantly, rats lack the intimately personal motives which humans possess for using drugs - So whereas any human has his/her own intimately personal factors which may turn them on to drug use (whether it be for self medication, pain relief, treating states of "boredom", facilitating spirituality, or recreational experience); rats lack such self awareness and introspective capacity. They are incapable of possessing such motives - simply put, rats are mindless animals, purely driven by instinct in the absence of conscience or introspection. 

Humans "use" drugs, whereas rats merely "take" drugs. It's that simple.


  1. I would not say that rats are devoid of reason or intelligence. They can and do moderate their use of drugs depending on circumstances, see the rat park experiment. However a rat alone in a cage, with its movement hampered by a catheter, has no real outlets for stress or stimulation beyond pushing a lever for a drug dose. The rat in a cage model is more applicable to a human in a cage. With few outlets to relieve frustration and unable to live a natural, social existence it is not surprising animals will use drugs to the point of self-destruction.

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