“Drug use, like many other human behaviors, is dictated by the search for pleasure; pleasure-seeking is an instinctive behavior intrinsic to all humanity, and only its excesses acquire pathological characteristics”. In which case animals follow this same behavior-like path when coming into contact with alcohol and drug-like substances themselves. I do not believe that the information in this book contributes to the debate about how to handle drugs in our country, although the book discusses how and why animals seek out and ingest plants that provide them with an altered state of consciousness, that is all it really does it doesn’t provide a way to “handle it” for humans per se. The book does say, “the drug phenomenon is a natural phenomenon, while the drug problem is a cultural problem”. To which what I think that statement is saying to me is, if we as a community believe a drug is acceptable there is “no problem” with taking it, versus a drug that a community will frown upon. I rather believe the book shows how similar animals and humans react when in contact with drugs. There were multiple instances in the book where animals reacted in ways humans do, for example, cats and catnip have a few similarities with individuals who are on the stimulant – ecstasy, as they both become reach a level of happiness and relaxation; not only that both have a heightened sexual arousal when an encounter with their drug. With humans, the high of ecstasy can lead to friendliness with strangers, sociability aspects, sexual appeal, as well as increased empathy with individuals around them. While with cats – “Males have spontaneous erections, while females adopt mating stances, complete with vocalization and ‘love-biting’ of any available object” (Samorini, 2002).
Similarities in Animal and Human Drug Use
Another similarity I found between animals and humans was within chapter 5 of Galloping Goats and humans on cocaine. As in the book the goats “During the hot days on the Ethiopian highlands they leaped around the rocks, climbing impossible slopes, then descending in controlled slides and falls. At sunset they usually slept, lying with outstretched limbs, motionless as the mountain itself. Tonight, they gamboled uncontrollably, bleating and chasing one another as their eyes darted in all directions. . . the goats paused only to nibble the red(coffee) berries from a nearby shrub, then continued to prance in the moonlight” (Samorini, 2002). They both have in common the burst of energy they receive when they have the drug, while it is true the high/energy boost for the goats on coffee beans lasts longer than humans on cocaine which averages out to about 30 mins. Both have effects with their eyes as the goats have darting eyes and humans instead receive dilated pupils while on the drug. I do not believe much of the information from this book is relevant for policymakers and drug policies but it helped in a way, I do agree with the quote in the book that reads, “The drug problem in modern society is not so much due to the existence of drugs or the natural impulse to take them as to the deculturization of the human approach to them.
To ensure that human drug use does not debase itself and become “bestial,” it is important that it, like all other human behaviors, be mediated by appropriate cultural understanding and knowledge. Depriving the individual and his or her society of this knowledge—an understanding, above all, of how to use drugs and in which contexts their use is appropriate—paves the way for improper approach and use and, consequently, for the drug problem” (Samorini, 2002). A way that was executed in the United States, for example, we have currently 10 states with fully legalized marijuana use as well as 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana because we have become more understanding of how marijuana works and what it can do to help our bodies. While vice versa Cocaine used to be legal in the United States and prescribed by doctors to deal with illnesses and injuries until further research showed it was an addictive drug. Reference: Samorini, Giorgio, and Rob Montgomery. Animals And Psychedelics. Inner Traditions International, Limited, 2002.