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How Common is Addiction in Animals?

Elephants are known for getting drunk in the wild by consuming fermented Marula fruit.When talking about addiction, most people tend to believe that it is some sort of a weakness or character flaw. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, it is a phenomenon that happens throughout nature. Take Lady, for example. Lady is a cocker spaniel who has turned her owner’s lives upside down. Lady was the shining example of the perfect pet; well trained, sociable and energetic. One afternoon she managed to come in contact with a cane toad and instantly developed an addiction to the hallucinogenic toxin that is released through the toad’s skin. Lady's behaviour quickly changed. She began to sit by the back door of the house, whimpering and whining to go outside non-stop. Once she was let outside, she would take off like a shot to the pond in the back of the yard. This pond held dozens of these cane toads and she would lick the toads so vigorously, that she managed to remove the colour pigment off one of the toads completely. Once Lady was back in the house, after indulging herself on these toads, she became very withdrawn, anti-social and glassy-eyed.

Lady is not a rare case; in fact it is more common than most people think. If you look throughout the world you can find thousands of instances where animals have fallen prey to the power of addictions. Take the Cedar Waxwing bird, which feeds on fermented fruit and then proceeds to fly around completely intoxicated. They fly right into glass walls, windows and even windshields due to this loss of control. The one thing that all of these animals and people have in common is the environment they are a part of. If the ability to partake in the use or ingestion of these addictive products is available, they will seek out ways of obtaining that “fix.” The urge can be so great that the organism will ignore its own need for food or water in order to obtain it. This is due to the natural survival instinct within every living being. The intake of these types of stimulants is either the same or closely mimics the chemical reactions released by the brain. They trick the brain into releasing additional chemicals to reward the body without having done the physical portion of the process.

The same can be said for human behaviour. The introduction of outside stimulants causes the body to go into a state of “overdrive.” Depending on the type of stimulants used, the outcome of this “overdrive” may vary. Some people have said that it is a human’s ability to choose that turns a person into a drug-seeking addict. While just about everything in our life starts with a choice, the ability to remain in control of your body is not always something that is easy to maintain or accomplish. This is why at Searidge Foundation and Sobriety Home we feel that it is important to understand the mechanics of a disease or addiction in smaller or simple organisms, so we can better understand it in a less complicated form. This approach allows us to better understand the evolutionary needs of the human body and the course of action required to help people regain control of their bodies and break free from the chains of addiction.

When you look at the base instincts within animals and humans, and compare the situations in which these types of chemical reactions occur and what causes them, you can see how evolution has played its part in the matter. The brains of both animals and humans alike reward the body with a chemical blend of stimulants after completing various life-sustaining acts or actions. Fear and anxiety are examples that everyone can easily relate to. These chemical signatures allow both animals and humans to be wary of a dangerous situation and keep us safe by increasing the types and amounts of chemicals released to bring our bodies into its highest possible state of awareness and performance. As evolution continues to play its role in life, new life-sustaining rewards have become available to humans, for example shopping, fitness training and working. Some people have become so focused and adept at these things, that their body triggers chemical reactions to reward the behaviour. That sense of attraction and unexpected butterflies in your stomach when you are on your first date is a prime example of how our behavioural patterns can trigger these drug related responses within our own bodies.

Get Help for your Alcohol or Drug Addiction at Searidge Foundation

Searidge Foundation has proven that by allowing those seeking treatment the ability to bring their beloved pets, they can expect to see greater results. This allows the participants the ability to have that emotional attachment and support that they need to get through this type of phenomenon, without being a potential crutch or enabler to the participant. There is no fear or worry about the animal companion running out in the middle of the night to grab a pack of cigarettes or bottle of Vodka for the participant. It has been proven time and time again that when we go through difficult periods of time in our lives, we often turn to our pets for unspoken guidance, strength and comfort. Searidge Foundation and Sobriety Home have embraced this type of support system to help provide participants the best chance at recovering from their addictions.

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