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Science

The Animal World Has Its Junkies, Too 250

Posted by timothy
from the entire-mountain-covered-in-snow dept.
Phoghat writes "Research scientists have used many animal species in investigating mind-altering drugs, but it may come as a surprise to learn that animals in the wild — from starlings to reindeer — also make use of psychoactive substances of their own accord. It seems that many of these species have a natural desire to experience altered states of consciousness, and man may well have found his way to some of his favourite recreational drugs by observing the behaviour of animals."
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The Animal World Has Its Junkies, Too

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  • by ls671 (1122017) * on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:09AM (#34668954) Homepage

    I remember watching a show on TV where a judge was telling a teenager that he was more stupid than an animal. The judge added: "Even animals aren't stupid enough to do drugs".

    I can only imagine the teenager replying to the judge: "But your honor here a picture of a Reindeer seeking the hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom".

    It gave me an idea and I am now looking for investors to do a remake of that TV show with twists like this one added. Kind of "judge Judy is always wrong". It should be a great success and make a lot of money. ;-)

    • by garyisabusyguy (732330) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:38AM (#34669016)

      I was just imagining some puritanical speech about rejecting your animal nature and elevating people above base instinct

      funny how that never works out, how hiding our human nature to enjoy intoxicants, sex, and all the other naughty things that people are prone to do just results in layers of lies and social artifice

      the remedies that the puritans insist on are are inconvenient at best, in the case of blue laws, and deadly at at worse in the case of stonings

      how long is it going to take the us to get over trying to enforce puritanical beliefs about intoxicants and find a better way to work with basic human/animal nature

      • "man may well have found is way to recreational drugs by observing the behavior of other animals".

        No, man found his way to recreational drugs by behaving just like other animals.

      • by jadavis (473492)

        hiding our human nature to enjoy intoxicants, sex, and all the other naughty things that people are prone to do just results in layers of lies and social artifice

        You left out other traits common among animals and people, such as violence and theft.

        I'm not claiming that puritanism is the right approach to civilization, nor am I saying that human nature should be ignored, nor am I saying that all humans are prone to violent behavior.

        But any civilization, if it wishes to avoid collapse, understands the negativ

    • by santax (1541065)
      Well, in their defence, those reindeer's are somewhat busy around these times... I can only imagine they want to relax after working hours. I mean, Santa ain't getting any skinnier.
    • by tirefire (724526) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @03:18AM (#34669072)
      (emphasis mine)

      I can only imagine the teenager replying to the judge: "But your honor here a picture of a Reindeer seeking the hallucinogenic fly agaric mushroom".

      Funny you should choose the fly agaric mushroom for your example. Fly agaric is only a controlled substance (illegal to possess) in one U.S. state: Louisiana (source [erowid.org]). Elsewhere, you can munch on them as much as you want (note: most people find the effects very unpleasant).

      It is perhaps worth noting that although possessing/eating fly agarics is not illegal, it is a violation of FDA regulations to sell them for food or drug purposes.

      • by am 2k (217885) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @07:33AM (#34669616) Homepage

        Note that things can have different effects on animals. For example, try feeding heavily spiced meat to a dog (well, rather don't). Perfectly fine for a human, but something between a heavily messed up flat and death for the canine friend.

        • by cusco (717999)
          We must be lucky to have beagles and Peruvian hairless dogs, since they can eat anything. Spicy meat, raw sweet potatoes (which they steal out of the pantry), chicken bones, sandwiches they find in the bushes, dead fish on the river bank, every kind of poop imaginable, you name it. The only problem that any of them have had is the puppy who swallowed an entire sock so couldn't eat anything else until she barfed it back up a couple of days later. And if it really **IS** somehow too nasty to eat the beagle
    • by JamesP (688957)

      So... "reindeer takes drugs, see Santa Claus?!"

  • Catnip (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ZiakII (829432) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:12AM (#34668958)
    Just give a cat catnip it is like watching a junkie just getting their fix. My friend's cat just discovered where it was hidden and was opening the cabinet and closing it to get his fix.
    • And now we know the origin of the blasted lolcats and why they prefer can haz cheezburgers to your friend's catnip-laced stash.
      The bastard!

  • Hypothetical Article (Score:2, Informative)

    by jhoegl (638955)
    This article is Hypothetical and wouldnt be published in anything worth a damn because the scientific leg work has not been done.
    I also note the publisher of this non-assuming website "pjonline.com"...Pharmaceutical Press 2010.

    article is total crap and isnt worth being posted on slashdot.
    • by ls671 (1122017) * on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:25AM (#34668996) Homepage

      I quickly checked on that, in the legal section, it says:

      "PJ Publications is part of Pharmaceutical Press, the publishing division of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain."

      It seems credible. At first glance anyways... ;-)

    • Anyone who has at least a few months of hallucinogenic experiences, would instantly know that its not at all impossible for animals to want to experiment with psychoactives.

      It may not be a proven scientific fact, but it does become common sense, as your eyes are opened to the world in ways you never thought existed, like the relationship between your brain and the chemicals that affects your perception of reality and time.

      I guess it is harder to imagine the want of such unique perspectives, without having s

      • by Nursie (632944)

        In five years, when you're bored of LSD and the long term effects have gone, you'll read this back and *facepalm*.

        Believe one who knows.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 26, 2010 @10:00AM (#34670050)

          I'm 43 years old, I haven't used hallucinogens since I was 28 and I still have to say that it was a very interesting experience that I do not wish to have undone. It's not a "miracle pill" but LSD definitely can be helpful in helping you understand yourself in a way that most people who do not use hallucinogens never come close to understanding.

          While the experience can be as plain as just a "laser show" (lots of visual stimulation, giggling and general silliness) it can also be extremely fascinating. I still remember the feeling of being able to how I was thinking. It's a bit like using a kernel level debugger on your thought processes, you see things about the way you think that you never would have picked up as clearly otherwise. Of course, there's always the risk of getting stuck in an infinite loop which forces you to figure out how to manipulate your own mind in order to snap out of it.

          • by Nursie (632944)

            I think it's interesting to see how minds react to chemical adulterants.

            I think most of the insights gained are the sort of thing that seems significant at the time and turns out meaningless later, like dreams. And I also think that in general the idea of opening your mind with hallucinogens is subjective. Of course you could say it's subjective in its very nature, but I mean subjective in that it feels or seems like something has happened when really it hasn't.

            No regrets, but I don't buy the hype,

            • by cusco (717999)
              That seems to vary dramatically from person to person. I knew two poets who wrote while stoned. One did her best work then, while the other would have to throw away almost everything as soon as he came down. The mescaline in San Pedro cactus brought me to a new and life-changing point of view, and I know someone else who changed career path after examining his life while on psylocibin mushrooms.
        • It's been over 3 years now, without any craving or long term effects [wikipedia.org], after 3 years frequent use.

          In retrospect, the visuals of me programming my brain, and the world around me, can't be matched by any multimedia experience, ever! :-)

      • by jhoegl (638955)
        I agree, taking drugs that damage the brain and body to "enhance" ones imagination is OOOHHH so worth it.
        But to assume I havent taken any drugs is pretty dumb.
        However, realizing the harm drugs do to ones self to simply "enlighten myself to a higher state of being" is much more enlightening.
        THe reality is that people take drugs to escape. Escape life, escape pain, escape not understanding. Once you know thyself, know thy neighbor, and know thy pain you have reached the real enlightenment that is life.
        N
        • Yes there is definitely some escapism involved, the same goes for eating (as some do when depressed) and drinking liquor.

          Most things that stimulate our senses could be fixated on as means to escape our reality temporarily.

          Mind drugs on the other hand, accentuate our thoughts and forces us to deal with what's inside our skulls, albeit in a very different perspective, and usually with a very giddy gait!

  • by Announcer (816755) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:19AM (#34668980) Homepage

    In case the server gets Slashdotted, here's the Coral link:

    http://www.pjonline.com.nyud.net/christmas/pj2010_723 [nyud.net]

    Interesting article.

  • Voice of Title (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ModernGeek (601932) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:20AM (#34668984) Homepage
    As a website that revolves around science, I find the headline offensive. The labeling of a person, or animal as a "junkie" is both unprofessional and crude. "Addictive tendencies found in non-human animals" would have been more appropriate. I'll note this incident in my journal and hope for an improvement in the near future. Good bidding and happy festivities this holiday season.
    • Re:Voice of Title (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Trinn (523103) <livinglatexkali@gmail.com> on Sunday December 26, 2010 @08:10AM (#34669694)

      I am hoping the headline was a joke, done to suggest thoughts of *intentional* drug users rather than the mythological addict, essentially hyperbolic negation of the intended result. Of course I could be wrong, we do live in a world where people presume that just because someone else likes to do something they don't quite understand it must be evil wrong immoral deadly and antisocial.

  • by The Clockwork Troll (655321) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:29AM (#34669004) Journal

    So do skunks call unpungent marijuana "human"?

  • by frank_carmody (1551463) <pedrogent AT gmail DOT com> on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:32AM (#34669008)
    Have a listen to his 'Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge' (tape 4 from memory) for a very nice exposition of the Santa Claus/psychedelic reindeer juxtaposition (e.g. red & white Amanita mushrooms that live under Xmas trees, toy-making elves, Lappland, flying reindeer).
  • Here's a video of all kinds of animals under the influence of a psychoactive drug!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohgqRRLjBsg [youtube.com]

    I'll leave whether it was voluntary as an exercise to the viewer.

    • by jhoegl (638955)
      You realize that is a comical rendition of something with a storyline to show those videos of animals...
  • by nido (102070) <nido56&yahoo,com> on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:43AM (#34669022) Homepage

    ... While the substances are an easy way to experience something a little different, it's also possible to achieve "altered states of consciousness" entirely without the chemicals.

    I don't have a copy of Stoned Free [google.com], but I like the premise:

    Now you can just say "No!" to drugs... and get high anyway! This book enumerates many drugless consciousness altering techniques, both timeless and recent in origin, that anyone can make use of. Meditation, breathing techniques, high-tech highs, sleep and dream manipulation, and numerous other methods are examined in detail. Avoid incarceration, save money, and skip the wear and tear on your body, while getting higher than a kite.

    I had to figure out how to relax my body (it was dysfunctional following a head injury), but even so I've had some neat experiences along the way: hypnagogic imagery, 360-degree vision, etc. If you've previously used substances (marijuana, LSD, etc) one can re-vivify those experiences with self-suggestion (self-hypnosis), or use descriptions of others to design your own trip.

    Tripping without substances generally begins with relaxing the physical body, relaxing the mind, then making suggestions to yourself.

    Binaural beats can help - Gnaural [sourceforge.net] is the open source tone generator. I had to do some other things to fully recover from said concussion, and I'm finally dreaming up a storm. :)

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I bought my lady one of those LED flashy things you wear like glasses and she really likes it. I've tried it a few times and it does make interesting patterns. No idea if the lights are forcing me to relax or if I'm just relaxing because I'm watching patterns but I think it's nifty as well. It's on my list of things to do with an Arduino because I want one that's PC-connected and that seems the easiest way to achieve that.

      • by Culture20 (968837)

        I bought my lady one of those LED flashy things you wear like glasses and she really likes it. I've tried it a few times and it does make interesting patterns. No idea if the lights are forcing me to relax or if I'm just relaxing because I'm watching patterns but I think it's nifty as well.

        I bought one of those, but Wesley Crusher programmed Data to break it.

  • by RobinEggs (1453925) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @02:52AM (#34669036)
    Many traditional stories about the discovery of coffee recount shepherds discovering its unusual properties after observing that their goats were unusually perky after munching a certain red berry, which turned out to contain coffee beans (which are technically seeds).

    I certainly think this and other stories of discovering analgesics, psychoactives, etc. by observing animals are quite plausible.
  • O RLY? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Alex Belits (437) *

    It seems that many of these species have a natural desire to experience altered states of consciousness

    States of WHAT? Animals have consciousness now?

    • by Balinares (316703) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @06:01AM (#34669394)

      > States of WHAT? Animals have consciousness now?

      No, it popped up MAGICALLY in us apes at some point; someone throw on a switch and BAM, consciousness overnight. MAGIC, I tell you.

      Or, you know, maybe consciousness is not a binary variable, but, like most everything about the real world, a continuum, and like most things about the real world, various species have achieved various levels of it? You know? Just sayin'.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        No, it popped up MAGICALLY in us apes at some point; someone throw on a switch and BAM, consciousness overnight. MAGIC, I tell you.

        There is freaking huge gap between human mind and anything modern apes have. Sure, there was a long process between those levels, but all intermediate steps are long extinct, and have no chance to show up to make question about their level of consciousness relevant.

    • by vandan (151516)

      Oh dear. You do realise that you're an animal, right? And your signature suggests that you don't believe in God. I'm trying to reconcile these two beliefs that you hold, and yet can't.

  • by polar red (215081) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @03:52AM (#34669130)

    there are countless instances of monkeys trying to get to alcohol.
    (and don't tell me alcohol is no drug : it's one of the worst)

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      What's interesting about drunk monkeys is that it has been shown that monkeys are about as boozy as we are. That is, if you provide them access to alcohol (as in numerous tourist locations where they haven't been exterminated) about the same percentage of them will be teetotalers and the same percentage drunks as humans.

    • by rrohbeck (944847)

      Drunk elephants are the best. I forgot where I saw that, must have been National Geographic.

    • A typical warmblood horse is about 550-600kg (over half a ton), but gets drunk on a surprisingly small amount of alcohol. They can get boisterous and disorderly on eating partly fermented apples http://guyism.com/uncategorized/drunk-horse-falls-in-uk-familys-pool.html [guyism.com]. A pint or two of beer would probably get a horse utterly staggering drunk. Don't try it, however, as a disorderly horse is almost as bad as a disorderly elephant.
  • by Nrrqshrr (1879148) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @04:02AM (#34669148)
    I remember a shaman from one of those South American cultures say something like: "We have been using tobacco for hundreds of years, and look at what it did to you when you discovered it. We have been using coca for generations, and look at what you did when you found it. I fear the worst for you once you find the rest of our plants."
    I guess the point is of the article is that the use of "drugs" is something part of nature, it's just how we do it that matters.
    • by mrmeval (662166)

      Yes, hemlock is all natural, nightshade is all natural, petroleum is all natural, tobacco is all natural, nuclear fusion is all natural. How some thing or some process is used is what matters.

  • I've read that every human culture with the exception of one has it's own intoxicants. All but the Inuit (what are you gonna do, ferment whale blubber?) have found some form of mind alternation. Extending this to the rest of the animal kingdom, it's not surprising to me that other species are just as keen to how much fun booze or drugs can be.

    • by grcumb (781340) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @07:13AM (#34669560) Homepage Journal

      I've read that every human culture with the exception of one has it's own intoxicants. All but the Inuit (what are you gonna do, ferment whale blubber?) have found some form of mind alternation. Extending this to the rest of the animal kingdom, it's not surprising to me that other species are just as keen to how much fun booze or drugs can be.

      You're not going to believe this, but... fermented walrus meat. I'm not kidding.

      I lived on Baffin Island for three years, and during that time, I was regaled at length on a number of occasions with first-hand accounts of how the Inuit would cache stores of walrus meat under stones in October (to keep the ravens from getting it) for about six weeks. Once it had a pretty solid veneer of mold, they would take it out, scrape it off and ingest it with gusto.

      According to those who tried it, it induced a mild, contented buzz.

      No, I did not try it. I didn't even want to see it.

  • by vandan (151516) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @06:37AM (#34669464) Homepage

    It's a common perception ... and totally wrong ... that psychoactive users are junkies. Far from it. I have participated in multiple voluntary studies with the Australian National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre, where they study recreational drugs ( E, LSD, etc ) ... and have asked them each time what they thought of my habits, and that of my peers. Each time they said the same thing ... that it was a pleasure to work with people who actually had their life together ... that the real 'junkies' use heroin, alcohol, cocain, etc ... and the recreational drug users, in contrast, are well in control of their activities, and leading productive lives. In fact I would go a step further and say that psychoactive drug users have their life together far more than the average person.

    • In fact there was a clinical study in the 1960s that showed that hallucinogenic drugs could be used to cure junkies of their addictions, especially alcohol.
  • Well derr! (Score:3, Informative)

    by damaged_sectors (1690438) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @06:50AM (#34669496)
    Drugs work because of, um, receptors. Given that most animals (not insects) have endocannabinoid receptors next we'll be surprised that animals like pot.

    Slow news week - and, where's the usual filler about how Santa visits all the chimneys?

  • Probably twenty or thirty years ago I saw a documentary about all kinds of animals who came to eat the half-fermented fruit lying under some kind of tree, and consequently getting very much drunk off their collective arses.

    Nothing funnier than a drunk rhino falling over, I can tell you. If anyone knows what documentary that was - I was just a geekling at the time - I'd love to find it again.

  • When I had a cat, it used to get high from smelling T-shirt underarms. Really hilarious to watch.

  • The headline should read new study show reindeer take hallucinogens. It is not news that animals take drugs, the has been known for a long time. Many herbivorous mammals will overindulge in rotten fruit on the ground getting drunk off the alcohol fermenting in them. Studies on monkey alcoholism have been done that show that their behaviour is almost identical to ours except that their alcoholics remain respected members of the social group rather than outcasts (the monkeys in the study were stealng alcohol
  • by devent (1627873) on Sunday December 26, 2010 @09:16AM (#34669868) Homepage
    Since we now determined that the use of recreational drugs is in our gene pool can we please stop the "War on Drugs" madness? It's working just like all the other laws to prohibit goods that people want, like alcohol and sex. But don't listen to me, listen to the Stanford "Neill" Franklin, Police (Ret.) Executive Director, LEAP [youtube.com].

    "It pains me to know that there is a solution for preventing tragedy and nothing is being done because of ignorance, stubbornness, unsubstantiated fear and greed."

  • The animal world may have its junkies, but they sure aren't doing magic mushrooms.

  • Did anyone else immediately think of the smack-addicted Dolphin from the Gibson story Johnny Mnemonic?

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