Research is turning up more and more data to support the idea that people become addicted to drugs because of the environment they are in. And it’s compiled nicely in Johann Hari’s book, Chasing the Scream: The first and last days of the War on Drugs.
It turns out that an dull, depressing environment — in many different scenarios — encourages addiction. But if you solve for the environmental problems, at least in mice, the propensity for addiction disappears.
What’s most surprising is that in a good environment the mice can stop their own addiction. So when it comes to addiction, it’s not you, it’s your cage.
I saved this article because I knew I’d use it on this blog. It strikes me as the first step in uncovering evidence that ADHD is also not about the kid but about the cage. If you put kids in the right environment for them, they would stop their ADHD behaviors. Just like mice behave nicely in a nice cage.
But I’ve been thinking lately about fitting in. How much I like fitting in. I have always thought that trying to stand out for NOT fitting in is a luxury for people who always feel like they DO fit in.
My favorite example of this is that the brides who spend the most time and money on their wedding are the ones who love the idea of a wedding and a spectacle and a tradition-bound event, and they are also the ones who spend the most time “making it special” and customizing the ceremony by writing vows, making movies to show the guests, whatever.
When I married my husband I had to try extra hard to make things look like a normal wedding.
I was so happy when I saw my son in orchestra and he was holding a violin over his face so I can’t take a picture. Great. I want him to do what the other kids do.
Homeschooling makes me think especially hard about fitting in. If nothing else, my kids are not really the ones choosing the alternative path, outside of school. I chose that. I’m the one who initially decided that is okay for us. And now my kids find themselves outsiders all the time in a world full of school kids. I don’t want them to have to be more alternative than they have to be. I want them to have a choice.
I find myself hoping for institutional acceptance. Now I know what people meant when they wanted gay rights so they could married just to be like everyone else. Yes, the right to be by your loved one’s bedside at the hospital is very important, but so is institutional acknowledgment just for acknowledgment’s sake.
Because humans are fundamentally social. It’s why a good cage can solve a bad problem. Social support systems work. Community support works. And being part of an officially recognized part of society feels enlivening.
It’s why the movement to recognize the contribution of veterans when they return home is so important. Today we work on fitting war veterans back into the social fabric through programs from companies like Lowvarates.com or Bradley-Morris – companies that ease veterans back into an environment where they feel supported and valued.
I’m realizing in all this that I’ll feel good when I feel supported in my environment. I know that right now I have to be an iconoclast to be a homeschooler. It’s why the community right here on this blog feels so good. But it’s also why I’ll be so happy when Kraft has a commercial about unschoolers explaining why they don’t learn math and they eat mac and cheese every day for lunch because they can make it themselves.