Can drugs affect animals in an addictive way as it is with humans?

Is it possible for drugs to affect our pets with such or worse consequences as it is with humans, and if so, which kind of such drugs may be addictive to animals?

Any advice on how to go about the challenges that come by doing this could be quite helpful. Thanks!

Regular User Asked on October 26, 2018 in Drugs.
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Hi Megan,

Thank you for asking this question. I’ll give a few pointers on whether animals can get addicted or not. A number of scientific studies have been done lately to answer this question, determine whether animals can get addicted, study their withdrawal symptoms and effects to their physique and mental well being.

One study involved getting a number of rats and injecting them with morphine or heroin on a regular basis for 20 days. They were provided with a lever that allows them to self-inject the drug. Once they’d worked out how to use the lever, they’d regularly use the lever to self-inject.

When they ┬ádiluted the amount that they’ve been injected with, they inject more often, presumably to keep the drug levels topped off. In addition, when the supply was stopped completely (whether through replacing the heroin with a saline solution or through removal of the injector) they’d start displaying abnormal behavior and other standard withdrawal symptoms.

Bees are perhaps one of the less obvious species when it comes to addiction. Researchers in Australia decided to see what would happen when they fed cocaine to bees. Invertebrates tend to react differently to drugs, but apparently bees fed cocaine would exaggerate worse than a fisherman whose catch got away. They would remember where nectar was but over exaggerate the amount that was there. In addition, when the cocaine was removed, they’d suffer from confusion. Researchers worked out that bees can normally tell the difference between vanilla and lemon; bees who were suffering from cocaine withdrawal could not.

Even horses will get high on locoweed. These stoners love it for its psychoactive effects, and they’ll consume it in preference to anything else when given the choice. It’s pretty common for it to be the only thing available during the winter months, so these nags chow it up and get a taste for the effects. Horses that feed on this this grass end up getting very antsy when denied it. It also shortens their lives quite significantly, as it has a debilitating effect on their equine brains.

Even goats have been known to display narcotic addiction. There’s a particular narcotic lichen that grows on really remote rocks in the Canadian Rockies. Goats in the area are known to risk life and limb to get at this plant, which has no nutritional value whatsoever.

So Megan, animals, and insects can also suffer addiction, but this is not common and hardly occurs naturally put there, upon experimentation however, we learn that addiction affects every animal.

The addiction in humans however is the most real, dangerous to the user and the community but can be treated. Sobriety is possible with professional help. I hope this sheds some light to your question. Thanks!

Moderator Answered on October 29, 2018.
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Moderator, very good answer.

Super User Answered on November 1, 2018.
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Happy to help ­čÖé I hope Megan got answered as expected too. Thanks.

Moderator Answered on November 1, 2018.
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Sure, Moderator – it made a lot more sense than I had imagined, thanks so much for your time and response!

The only question I remain pondering is whether animals can naturally land into an addiction, as the answer above mostly focuses on experimental situations. Any insights? Thanks again.

Regular User Answered on November 1, 2018.
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