I’m convinced that there are hundreds, even thousands of you out there who read my intro entry and found it hard to believe that I used to work in a research laboratory. No Gullible Gus you! You’re simply a product of 20th century skepticism. You want some sweet, sweet evidence that I actually used to work in a drug addiction research lab. Well internet, here it is:
Yup! That’s me in the small animal surgery facility of my old lab, dressed in my finest Personal Protective Equipment (I think Minty Dental Green is my color!). The adorable little beastie on my chest is a prime specimen of the Long-Evans strain of Rattus norvegicus. Cute, isn’t he? Kind of like a tiny, milkless cow. Now is a good time for any vegan, vegetarian, or just plain squeamish readers to to turn their attention to something more palatable.
Are the softies gone? Ok, cause I just wanted to clear you out so I could safely give this picture context. Right after I took this picture, I anesthetized Lil’ Subject 310 with a common veterinary cocktail, catheterized his right jugular vein with a piece of silicone elastomer tubing, and bilaterally implanted two 16-wire microarrays into is nucleus accumbens. After about two weeks of recuperation, the little guy began training on a operant task in which he learned that every time he pressed a small lever, he’d get a shot of cocaine hydrochloride directly into his bloodstream.
To be exact, it’s not that he realized that he got an injection of a highly addictive, but more that he realizes that every time he presses the lever he SUDDENLY FEELS FUCKING AWESOME. Rats are like people, man: they like to feel awesome.
SO… you are probably wondering why the hell I did all of that. How did I know what you were thinking? Well, everybody I’ve ever talked about my job with has reacted in one of 2 highly predictable ways.
ONE: “Oh ha ha hey maaaan, ha ha, can u like, share some of those drugs, heh heh?” Ha ha ha! Comedy jokes, ha ha! I LOVE ‘EM AND IT IS JUST AS FUNNY EVERY TIME!
TWO: “Uh, why? Don’t we already know that when you give people drugs, they get high?”
On rare occasions I’ll get a third reaction, some shit like “Oh really? What lab? I did my postdoc with Patricio O’Donnell; were you guys recording in prefrontal cortical structures or just accumbens?” That’s pretty refreshing; feel free to leave responses like that in the comments or on my voicemail.
But yeah, number Two, we do already know that people get high on drugs. That’s not the question we’re asking. We’re trying to figure out why it is that some people can take or leave drugs, and why some people CAN’T FUCKING STOP no matter how much they want to. My lab was specifically interested in investigating the neural process underlying addiction – what is actually happening to populations of neurons in the portion of the brain that regulate motivation and behavior. We worked from the general assumption that addiction is a subversion of the normal mammalian learning process. In other words: rats are mammals, we are mammals, so some of the underlying mechanisms are going to translate. Hence the use of Lil’ Subject 310 in our operant conditioning model of human behavior.
I think I could probably say more about my time at the lab, but I just looked at the clock and it is officially Get A Burrito PM. One more thing before I eat: Number One, I am not even dignifying that with a response or a link to the DEA’s strict enforcement policies. Shouldn’t you get back to bumming your roommates’ debit card to renew you subscription to High Times?