An Addiction Simulation




The following active learning exercise is meant to give you a safe, effective, first hand experience with some of the biological, psychological and sociological aspects of drug addiction. Although of course there is no way to truly simulate the addictive experience, the more seriously you follow the rules of the simulation, the more likely you are to experience some of the thoughts and feelings of addiction.




For the 48 hours of this simulation you will be suffering from an addiction.  Your drug of choice will be "EYSKUBE" (frozen water). You used to just dabble with the simpler forms of water (liquid), but now you NEED the "hard stuff".  For 48 hours I hope you will agree to live this addiction, doing everything you can to abide by the following rules:


1.  Given that your craving for EYSKUBE is incredibly strong, the only way to satisfy this need is to put it (ice cubes) in EVERY SINGLE LIQUID SUBSTANCE YOU CONSUME during the 48 hours.  That is, whether you are drinking soda, milk, coffee, beer, cocoa etc., you must have EYSKUBE in it to keep from going into withdrawal.  Even water from the drinking fountain or a drink when you wake up during the night must have an accompanying dose of  EYSKUBE. Obviously this will take a tremendous amount of advance planning.  No drinking without EYSKUBE.  If you don't have EYSKUBE you can=t drink and you will eventually start to experience withdrawal symptoms (1st symptom is usually dry mouth and thirst, but there may be others). If you are really serious about this simulation you can kick it up a notch by requiring that EYESKUBE be tinted (e.g. ONLY red EYESKUBE or blue EYESKUBE can be used). After all, with a real drug addiction the drug would not be available in every restaurant, fast food place or refrigerator - you would only be able to buy your drug at certain spots. You=d have to plan your life around finding your dealer on a regular basis. Being addicted to tinted EYESKUBE means you are going to have to plan how to have access to that special red or blue Adrug@ every time you want to drink during the day. Will you keep a Astash@ in a cooler in your car or backpack. Or will a friend be your Adealer@ and you=ll have to keep touching base with them to get your stuff? Also, addictive drugs like cocaine or heroin are not something you would usually want to be seen with at school or on the job - you would have to hide your drug. Making EYESKUBE colored means you=ll have to hide it more - be more discrete - or folks will surely ask you why you have a blue cube in your beer. That leads us to the next rule.


2.  You must not talk to anyone outside of the EYSKUBE culture (our class) about your situation for the 48 hours.  The only people who know about your addiction are other EYSKUBE addicts or dealers.  Society condemns dependence on EYSKUBE - you could be expelled, fired, ostracized, or arrested if your addictive use of EYSKUBE is discovered.  If they notice your behavior is unusual do not tell them it is a simulation or class project. Deception is part of the life of most addicts. To put yourself in the role of the addict you are going to have to deceive friends, family, employers - come up with some excuse for your behavior other than the truth - just like an addict would probably lie about why they have a syringe, or needle tracks, or that glassine bag full of white powder.


3.  No one should see you adding your drug (EYSKUBE) to your drinks.  Think of it as your way of Ashooting up@ - you wouldn=t do that in public, You must be very discrete and secretive.  Sometimes you may have to slip into the john to administer EYSKUBE to your beverage without being noticed.


4.  A hospital bracelet (other odd non-jewelry Abracelet@ - perhaps masking tape or string) must be worn on your body for the duration of the exercise.  This is a sign of your EYSKUBE addiction  (like needle tracts) that is a social disgrace and something else you should conceal.  You also might find it an annoyance (like the runny nose or infected injection sites other type of addicts might experience).  You should try to keep those outside the EYSKUBE culture from noticing this sign - they might ask embarrassing questions and then you would probably have to make up some story to hide your addiction. (Dr. Walsh has a limited supply of hospital bracelets).


5.  An hourly log must be kept every waking hour during the exercise.  In your log each hour record:


A.  When do you expect you will be getting your next dose of EYSKUBE?

 (remember - no drinks without EYSKUBE)

B.   Where will you be obtaining your EYSKUBE?

C.   Any particular difficulties, feelings, reactions you are experiencing


This log is meant to simulate the obsession , involvement and regular attention common to many addictions. Preoccupation with the abused substance can seep into every waking hour. You may not be experiencing the intense withdrawal symptoms that keep getting their drug on the minds of addicts, but with the log we are trying to make you think about your drug every waking hour of the day.


6.  This is only a simulation.  No laws or morals should be broken to fulfill the requirements of the simulation.  If  the simulation should, for any reason, get too intense, you may terminate it, but I would appreciate it if you would share the reason why you stopped the simulation in your write-up.


7.  Turn in your hourly log as well as a write-up of your experiences and your reaction to the simulation.

In what ways, if any do you think you felt like or had experiences like or behaved like an addict. How did you like having to alter many of your daily activities to accommodate your addition? What was the hardest part of the simulation? Given that real psychoactive substances could not be used, are there other things that would make the simulation more realistic and effective?



Thanks to Todd C. Campbell of Texas A & M University  for creating this exercise.