Our basic understanding of addiction rests on the experiment where the rat had two bottles to choose: one with plain water and one with heroin added. The rat chose the heroin water. But another experiment added a park for the rat to feel a sense of community. And the rat rarely chose the drugged water. What was learned in the rat park experiment was that we choose drugs when we don’t have the feeling of connection to community.
When was the rat park experiment completed? In 1978. Why haven’t we integrated this knowledge into our addiction treatment program?
What the rat park experiment introduced into this addiction question was by introducing rats to a park where connection and complexity was added, the rats didn’t choose the heroin water. They chose the community.
Recovery communities that combine sports and/or hobbies are thriving.
Rat Park is leading a social recovery movement that is fighting addiction issues while not being labeled as an anti-drug cause. For far too long, the only method for preventing addiction was to “just say no.” Evidence proves this method rarely works, and in fact, may have created bigger problems. According to research, the prominent cause of addiction is isolation and unhealthy relationships or environments. Instead of pushing abstinence, we believe advocating for positive human connection will create real bonds that bring the community together.
Through compassion, empathy, and acceptance, our goal is to erase the belief that substance abuse is a moral failing because addiction is a health issue, not a crime. While many can use substances socially without negative impacts or judgement of character, individuals who are struggling with addiction feel isolated and find it hard to ask for help because they fear shame and rejection. The truth is, recovery from addiction is possible, especially with support from loved ones.
There is more than one road to individual recovery, but it’s time we stand together and do our part to recover from the growing issues of isolation as a society. Rat Park’s mission is to create environments that promote healthy connections and provide proper education about mental health. By giving individuals the opportunity to be part of an accepting society, it will allow them to make conscious decisions for their own bodies. This means making the choice to ask for support if needed, making the choice to abstain from substance use if needed, or making the choice to use substances moderately that don’t create long-lasting harmful or negative impacts. Through lively social events and gatherings, we will bring the community together to create real face-to-face connections and use the funds raised from events for grants that will help individuals,who are struggling with mental health issues or substance dependencies and don’t have the financial means for treatment get the support they need.
The Catalyst Network is a dynamic, growing network of inspiring organizations from across the country with the drive to help people improve their lives.
What is the Catalyst Program?
Stand Together conducts a six-month program for transformative, innovative organizations that are building sustainable solutions to the country’s toughest problems. The Catalyst Program provides access to resources, industry best practices, and a growing network of innovative leaders. Participants choose an obstacle specific to their organization to tackle over the course of the program with support from their peers and experts in the field. Industry experts lead monthly online sessions and guide participants through curriculum on topics such as organizational development, strategic partnerships, and measurement and growth.
Each Catalyst Program class is a small cohort of 10-20 organizations seeking social change in a variety of ways. Focus areas include workforce development, at-risk youth, housing, substance abuse, criminal justice, homelessness, education, hunger, and more. Through the course of the program, organizations can encounter new ideas, seize opportunities to collaborate, and poise to grow, scale, and replicate.
The Stand Together Catalyst Network grows with each cohort and extends past the program. Participation in the program grants organizations lifetime access to resources and relationships with leaders in their societal issue area in cities across the country.
To meet our Catalysts, visit the Catalyst Homepage.
We believe some of the most important work being done in America today is the result of individuals and organizations solving problems in their communities. Faith-based organizations, volunteer groups, businesses, and community leaders are breaking through barriers to help others break the cycle of poverty, improve their lives, and make the world a better place.
Stand Together identifies, supports, and celebrates these catalysts for social change. We provide training and resources to help them build operational capacity. We establish clear performance expectations, and we encourage these catalysts to think like entrepreneurs in order to promote acceleration, scalability, and risk-taking.
Our mission is to unleash the power of community to solve our country’s toughest problems and help people improve their lives.
Organizations in our portfolio tackle poverty from multiple angles. We look for organizations that address the five interconnected factors that research confirms perpetuate the cycle of poverty: chronic unemployment, family breakdown, addiction and trauma, personal debt, and educational failure.
Scott Strode has been sober for twenty years. Drinking his first beer at age 11 and snorting cocaine for the first time at 15, he used alcohol and drugs for over a decade. After 24 hours straight of using cocaine, left on a bathroom floor, Strode decided to make a change.
In Strode’s pursuit of sobriety, he found connection with others through physical activity. He started climbing and biking, finding healing and hope on a mountain top. Strode later founded a nonprofit, Phoenix Multisport, that provides a sober active community for people seeking to live a sober life.
“Phoenix Multisport fosters a supportive, physically active community for individuals who are recovering from a substance use disorder and those who choose to live sober. Through pursuits such as climbing, hiking, running, strength training, yoga, road/mountain biking, socials and other activities, we seek to help our members develop and maintain the emotional strength they need to stay sober.”
They have chapters in California, Colorado, and Massachusetts with plans to expand.