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Logo Put It Down Lifestyle The 25 Days program helps you get your relationship with alcohol exactly where you want it in your life without judgment or shame.

The Rat Park Connection

We’ve all heard the phrase “knowledge is power.” But I have come to believe that KNOWLEDGE + CONNECTION = POWER. I think CONNECTION is the key ingredient to getting your relationship with alcohol where you want it.


knowledge + connection = power

Rat Park is such a compelling illustration of this concept. It was a study conducted in the late 1970s by Canadian psychologist Bruce Alexander and his colleagues to examine the effects of social environment on drug addiction in rats.


To do the experiment, the scientists made two different homes for the rats.


One home was just a small cage. One rat per cage, by themselves, isolated from other rats, with nothing to do.


The other rat habitat was much larger and more stimulating. They called it “Rat Park.” It was multiple levels, contained a variety of toys, tunnels to explore, play areas, and other items for the rats to play with, as well as a community of other rats of both genders for social interaction.


The rats in both scenarios were given access to two types of water: one plain and one laced with morphine or cocaine or another addictive drug.


At first, the rats isolated in their own small cages mostly chose to drink the water laced with morphine. Over time, those rats ALWAYS chose the drugged-up water. They became addicted, eventually became sick, and essentially killed themselves.


But the rats in Rat Park were different. They had rat friends to play with (and have sex and little rat babies with) and cool, fun things to do. They had a full rat life, so they didn’t choose to drink the water with morphine in it as often. In fact, many of the rats in the Rat Park environment didn't consume any of the morphine water AT ALL.


The researchers also found that rats who were addicted to morphine in the isolated cages could be "cured" of their addiction by being transferred to Rat Park, where they would gradually lose interest in the drug.


Isn’t that amazing?


Conclusion of this experiment:

Connection with other like-minded souls plays a major role in whether or not a person (or a rat) becomes addicted to drugs, and that addiction is less about the drug itself and more about the overall quality of life of the individual.


That one hundred percent blows my mind.


That’s one of the reasons we encourage our members to embrace the video chat portion of The 25 Days program. There’s something very special about being able to see the faces and hear the voices of the other women strolling along this journey with us.


But having said that, I know firsthand how hard jumping on a video chat can be. I’m an introvert. Connection is difficult for me. I’m not good at small talk. I don’t enjoy having to mingle or talk about myself. When I decided I needed to change my relationship with alcohol and I joined an online community, I was dead-set against the video chat. I was kind of like that poor lonely little isolated rat in my (self-made) cage pushing that alcohol button over and over and over again day after day. But I had the Facebook community and the material. Why would I possibly need to step out of my comfort zone and put myself on display in front of a bunch of strangers?


A frightened girl's face with hands at her mouth hiding under burlap

So I had a little pep talk with myself and decided that I paid good money for this experience, and I needed to jump in with both feet – all in. And that meant I had to pluck up my courage and press that record button and make a video recording telling these strangers a little bit about myself. My palms were sweating, my whole body was shaking, my voice was tiny and quiet, but I did it! And I kept doing it almost every single day. It got easier with every post.


And I can tell you with absolute certainty if I hadn’t been vulnerable and connected with those ladies, I would not have succeeded in wrestling alcohol out of my life. When I was struggling, I would picture my Soul Sisters’ faces, and think how I would feel if I let them down. Yep, connection was EVERYTHING. Sure, the materials, books, and podcasts taught me a lot, but it was the connection that gave me the power to put it down for good. I was like that little isolated rat that got a chance to make its way over to Rat Park. I went from my tiny little monotonous world to a beautiful land full of color, life, and endless possibilities!


That was over three years ago, and I still talk to my peeps almost every day. My dear Pea Pod Squad, as we call ourselves now, know me better than anyone. We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve been through A LOT.


Because I made that leap, I’ve met many more women on this path. I got my life coaching certificate and I mentor other ladies now. I’m in so many video chat groups, I’m afraid to count them. Every one of the ladies in every chat group is a lifeline for me, and I love each one to pieces. I would not be here typing this if it weren’t for all of you.


So to my original Soul Sister Pea Pod Squad, I say with tears in my eyes as I type this, THANK YOU! Thank you, Michelle, Tammie, and Sharla for always being there for me. You inspire me every day to be a better person. And I mean this in the best possible way: You were and continue to be my Rat Park. 😊

 

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