The conception that drug addiction is a mere moral failure is too antiquated. Even then, they are not worrying our unconsciously dogmatic and aggressively moralistic society. It is completely wrong to say that the cradle of drug addiction is a moral failure. In fact, drug addiction, in its nascent form is called misery. Choosing the wrong way of retreating pushes one into drug addiction.
In 1970, a psychologist named Bruce Alexander performed an experiment illustriously known as Rat Park Experiment. He constructed a rat park with wheels and balls for play, plenty of food and mating space, and 16-20 rats of both sexes mingling with one another. The rats were given the option to drink fluids from one of two dispensers. One had plain tap water, and the other had a morphine solution. It was observed that the Rat Park rats consistently resisted the morphine water, preferring plain water. Even rats that had previously been kept in cages and fed nothing but morphine water for 57 days chose plain water when moved to Rat Park, voluntarily going through withdrawal. Based on these observations, the team concluded that drugs themselves do not cause addictions. Rather, a person’s environment feeds an addiction.
Addiction simply is a symptom of torment. Instead of looking at addicts through medical gaze as Foucault calls it, we should look at them through the monocle of commiseration. We should visualise addicts as people with biochemical imbalance. The chemical dependence on drugs makes one oblivious to the real world and magnifies the psychedelic experience. The unreal seems more seducing than the ordinary real world, hence an addict has a hard time dropping their addiction, not to mention the hijacking of the prefrontal cortex.
But what pushes one into this unreal world is discontentment and emotional distance between humans. In reality, humans are naturally required to form emotional and warm bonds with each other but we have become amorphous and unapproachable. Hence, empathetic and sensitive people wrongly fall prey to the theory that drugs will fill the void in their hearts. They force their body to give them the pleasure it is not capable of, congesting logic with dopamine.
Humans take life too seriously. Instead of filling our life with humour, poetry or music, we approach it negatively and end up with a void in our heart. Weber fittingly said, “Our life has become so mechanised and electronified that one needs some kind of an elixir to make it bearable after all. And what is this elixir if not humour?” Life is not to be taken too seriously. The whole of existence is a joke, what better way to fracture the misery and suffering of life by laughing at it. Just as alcohol first dissolves the dignity of a man, in the same way, humour kills the ego of a human.
The psychedelic experiences that drugs provide are the lowest form of ecstasy. The likes of William James and Robert Mule pointed out that Abraham Maslow’s peak experiences and the mystic experiences were not the same, but mystic experiences transcended ordinary peak experiences. This implied that drugs just give a lesser experience of the same joy that meditation or communion with God gives. The psychedelic experience of drugs is limited whereas the joy that a mystic knows is boundless.
In the end, people are left with a choice, either to turn our face to God and experience real joy and share it or be stuck at the lower level and add to the misery of the world. Ultimately, as Sufis say, a vessel leaks what it contains, a man of joy who has witnessed his communion with God will pour out his joy whereas a man of suffering from a drink will pour out his misery.