Episode 19 - Bruce Alexander: The Rat Park Guy


Dr. Bruce Alexander is a highly regarded psychologist and retired professor who has years of knowledge in the area of addiction. He offers ideas of how to solve the  drug crisis that so many are facing today.

Dr. Alexander had moved to Vancouver in 1970 and at that time it was in the midst of the Heroin Crisis where he met "real live junkies". He shares his findings with the Rat Park experiments: taking drug addicted rats in solitude, compared to free rats in a thriving rat park. He talks about the invisible isolation people can have and how fear can take away our critical thinking capacity.


- Bruce and Matt have a fascinating discussion of the disappearance of the Rat Park Experiments. Drug Addicted Solitary Confined rats vs free Rat Park rats and how that can or can’t relate to people. He shares his knowledge of rat babysitting, and how rats actually build their own culture and social life! 

- Bruce and Matt discuss the importance of  a persons identity,  even if it's a somewhat proud "junkie".  They talk about youth being raised by peers instead of parents and how that relates in gangs. 

- Bruce talks about the 1970 disease theory of addiction based on withdrawal symptoms and being an "irresistible drug." 

- They chat about how Doctors and Police now have the discretion in how to deal with addicted individuals. Police can decide to charge or not and doctors can decide to prescribe or not. 

- They agree that the narrative is changing, and although there are solutions that may work, people may not be ready to hear those solutions just yet.

- How terror can cripple critical or wise thinking.


"Everybody has to be Somebody."


" We are in the midst of a Paradigm Shift."

"People who use drugs, to the degree that they hurt themselves, have a Need, and drugs fulfill that need. We’ve got to do something about where that need comes from."

" The rat park makes the Isolation visible, but human cages are sometimes Invisible."

" Harm Reduction is Vital."

" In the 19th Century you could buy opioids in the store, called Mrs.Winslows Soothing Syrup. My prediction is we will go back to that. We can't even talk about it yet, because of the panic. It takes away our critical thinking capacity.”


Bruce Alexander Homepage: http://www.brucekalexander.com/

Canadian Research Initiative of Substance Misuse (CRISM) Prairies website: https://crismprairies.ca/

SayKnow.org Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sayknoworg

SayKnow.org Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/SayKnowOrg

Music provided by Redbull DJ Champ, Charly Hustle: http://www.charlyhustlemusic.com