. . . whether it is truly an accurate model of human addictive behaviour is more questionable. It is certainly true that numerous studies since Rat Park have shown the importance of environment in influencing human drug use, particularly in early years, but when considering socio-ecological models of health, drug use, drug choice, maintenance and development of problematic use or disorder, these are not simply a product of social environment (or lack thereof), but a complex interaction of individual risk (genetic and environmental) integrated within a larger social system, which are themselves complex and multileveled. However, this is not to construct a ‘straw man’ out of Rat Park – it has endured because advocating policy change requires a ‘good story’ and a simple narrative that has, or should have, at least some basis in evidence.
So . . . it’s a useful fiction (or partial-fiction). At what cost? This post touches on some of the issues.