#Community is defined as “a group living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common, as well as a feeling of #fellowship with others, a sharing of common attitudes, interests, or goals.”
In the 70s, #Bruce Alexander, MD placed a rat alone in a cage. The rat was given two water bottles. One bottle contained just water. The other bottle had water with #heroin. The rat repetitively drank from the heroin-laced bottle until he overdosed and died. The #experiment was repeatable. Dr. Alexander wondered: “Is this all about the #drug or could it be related to the setting?” To test this idea, he put rats in “rat parks,” a community where they were free to roam, play, socialize and have sex. Given the same 2 types of water bottles, when in their community, the rats preferred the plain water (over the water with heroin). And if they did drink the heroin-laced water, they did so intermittently, not obsessively, with NO overdoses. Humans, also need also to be part of a community, sharing experiences and support. This is a basic psychological truth. In medicine, the focus is symptoms, diagnoses, and evidence-based therapies. Effective, but with the unintended effect of less attention to the benefits of human interaction and community.
While participating in community is just one piece of the complex #harmreduction puzzle to decrease the amount of opioids people use, community drives #mentalwellness and it is a vital part of the path to #recovery.