Monkeys in nicer cages use less cocaine than monkeys in standard cages. That’s one of the more interesting research findings coming out of Wake Forest University Medical School this month.
Monkeys are used as a good predicative animal model for the administration of drugs in humans. Essentially, if monkeys like something, then we probably will too.
Researchers wondered what effect the monkey’s environment would have on their desire to self administer cocaine. They put some cocaine using monkeys in larger cages for three days and then gave them access to cocaine and food self administration – and the monkeys that were given access to larger (nicer) cages, administered less cocaine than the monkeys that didn’t get the upgrade.
The researchers stress that the environmental improvement was relatively minimal, and suspect that if the monkeys were given access to a larger cage, and also given interesting activities to do while in the cage, the decrease in cocaine self administration would be larger.
The human extrapolation suggests that environment plays a greater than previously thought of influence over drug use, and that people in more pleasant environments are likely better able to reduce their cocaine usage.
On the flip side, and not entirely surprisingly – monkeys that were subjected to three days of more stressful living, instead of more spacious accommodations, used more cocaine than before.
I wonder why putting people in small jail cells doesn’t seem to help them quit drugs very well?