24/7 Support Line

(954) 526-5776
Menu close
Get Help Now

Our Centers

  • Take the First Step in Las Vegas

    Desert Hope is a beautiful oasis with modern charm located in Las Vegas, Nevada. We provide all levels of care from detox, in-patient, outpatient and sober living.

    Visit Desert Hope Treatment Center Visit Desert Hope Treatment Center
  • A New Life Awaits

    Start your recovery at our spa-like facility in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Holistic therapies, chef-prepared meals, and LGBTQ+ support are among the many features of our premier drug and alcohol treatment program.

    Visit Greenhouse Treatment Center Visit Greenhouse Treatment Center
  • The Best Place to Recover in Orange County

    Laguna Treatment Hospital is located in Orange County, CA. The first Chemical Dependency Recovery Hospital in the OC, we offer safe medical detox, mental health support, and wellness programs.

    Visit Laguna Treatment Hospital Visit Laguna Treatment Hospital
  • Start Recovery at Our Southern Resort

    Take a step back from your life and get the help you need at our premier drug and alcohol addiction center. Nestled in the countryside 1.5 hours from Memphis, Oxford gives you the support you need in a calm and beautiful setting.

    Visit Oxford Treatment Center Visit Oxford Treatment Center
  • Recovery Forecast includes Tropical Weather

    Your recovery can start at either of two premier drug and alcohol treatment facilities in the Greater Miami area - Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood, FL. Our specialties include treatment for veterans and first responders.

    Visit Recovery First Treatment Center Visit Recovery First Treatment Center
  • Sunny Florida Welcomes You

    Retreat to the sunny climate of Tampa, Florida for a stay at the standard of treatment facilities in Tampa, FL. We offer customized care plans to help you on your recovery journey.

    Visit River Oaks Treatment Center Visit River Oaks Treatment Center
  • Helping New Englanders Find Recovery for Over 30 years

    Escape to the countryside to recovery in New Jersey’s premier drug rehab & treatment center. Located only an hour from New York City.

    Visit Sunrise House Treatment Center Visit Sunrise House Treatment Center

Can Animals Become Addicted to Drugs?

Addiction in Animals in the laboratory and in natural settingsIt might seem difficult to imagine, but animals can become addicted to drugs just as readily as humans can. In fact, a great deal of what we know today about addiction and alcoholism was derived from observing animals purposefully consuming drugs. However, animals don’t just experience addictions in the laboratory – there are many well-known cases of animals consuming various substances to alter their mental state or obtain a euphoric high in the wild; without any type of human interference. This has very specific implications, not the least of which is the fact that this phenomenon easily rebukes the idea that addiction is simply a matter of a weak will or poor moral character.

Drug Use & Addiction in Animals – the Laboratory Setting

Animals are trained regularly using the principles of addiction. By stimulating the reward and pleasure center in an animal’s brain – such as by offering treats, praise, affection or a special activity, the animal will develop a desire to perform the function it is being trained to do again and again. This is because once stimulated, the reward center in the brain makes associations about what is happening at the time the pleasurable feeling occurs. Once these associations are made, a neurological pathway will develop that causes the animal to perform those actions and gain the reward repeatedly. This is especially true when the reward is drugs. In a report for the ACNP, George F. Koob writes;

“It is amply clear that animals and humans will readily self-administer drugs in the nondependent state and that drugs have powerful reinforcing properties in that animals will perform many different tasks to obtain drugs. The drugs that have positive reinforcing effects correspond well with the drugs that have high abuse potential in humans.” (1)

Drugs that have high abuse potential in humans includes street drugs like cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine, as well as opiate prescription drugs like Vicodin, Percocet and Oxycodone. Animals are often used to test drugs like these before gaining FDA approval. This also includes other pain medications, weight loss drugs, over the counter medications like sleep aids and cough suppressants, and much more. (2) Addiction to these substances occurs easily in animals, as it does in humans with continued use.

Animal Drug Consumption in the Natural Setting

However, substance abuse in animals doesn’t just occur in the lab – it happens in the wild too. Whether true clinical addictions are formed is doubtful, but it is widely accepted that many types of birds, rodents and other mammals seek out altered states of consciousness. This is achieved by consuming fermented foods or liquids, eating insects or other creatures that secrete or produce a mind-altering substance, or by ingesting other items that generate a “high.” (3)

What is clear about drug addiction is that the results are the same in humans as they are in animals. Prolonged drug use invariably leads to serious health complications, behavioral and lifestyle issues and even death. Neither an animal nor a person would ever choose to become addicted, but only a human can recognize and choose to get help for a problem.

If drugs are taking control of your life, you need to take action right now. Call the number at the top of your screen and talk to us confidentially about our inpatient treatment program – widely considered one of the best in the country. We’re here 24 hours per day and can help you no matter where you are or what time it is. Call us now.


(2) National Academies Press Why are Animals Used to Study the Brain?
(3) Anitei, Stefan Animals on Drugs 12/02/2006 Softpedia
Related articles

About The Contributor
The editorial staff of Recovery First is comprised of addiction content experts from American Addiction Centers. Our editors and medical reviewers have over a decade of cumulative experience in medical content editing and have reviewed thousands... Read More