Report Uncovers Cruelty of Recreational Drug Experiments on Animals

By Victoria Kim 04/01/16

In some experiments, animals were injected or forced to inhale "Class A" drugs in huge doses over days, and often weeks. 

Report Uncovers Cruelty of Recreational Drug Experiments on Animals
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For decades, taxpayers have footed the bill for million-dollar lab experiments that addict animals to recreational drugs, according to a new report by the Animal Justice Project and the Taxpayer Protection Alliance.

As part of an ongoing exposé on taxpayer funded animal abuse, the Animal Justice Project teamed up with the Taxpayer Protection Alliance to uncover examples of peer-reviewed studies in which animals are forced to use recreational drugs including cocaine, amphetamines, MDMA, heroin, synthetic drugs (like bath salts and flakka), alcohol and nicotine.

The report, released Tuesday, is a scathing criticism of the methods used in these animal experiments. And the fact that millions of taxpayer dollars go to support animal addiction research makes it all the more unforgivable, according to the report.

“Many of these government-funded researchers have built a career on animal abuse funded by taxpayers with no real oversight or accountability, and no success in producing cures or therapies for human addiction,” it reads.

The report lists several examples of taxpayer funded animal addiction experiments that bring to light the inherently cruel nature of such experiments.

The first, and most expensive, research project listed has been conducted at the University of California-Los Angeles for the past 22 years. The school has received over $31 million during that time period to measure how withdrawal from opiates affects the reward center of the brain. They did this by injecting increasing doses of morphine directly into the brain tissue of six- to nine-week-old rats, twice daily for four days. The rats were ultimately killed so the researchers could study their brains.

A particularly gruesome example was found at the California Institute of Technology, where over a span of 10 years, using more than $8 million in funding, researchers pumped nicotine into mice in an attempt to develop new therapies to help people quit smoking. The researchers surgically implanted pumps into genetically altered mice, designed to deliver high levels of nicotine. Before the nicotine was pumped into the mice, they were placed on a 131 degree Fahrenheit hotplate to determine their pain threshold. They were then removed from the hotplate, injected with the nicotine solution, then again placed on the hotplate to measure whether their reaction time to pain had changed. At the end of the experiment, they were given a lethal injection into the heart and then decapitated.

And finally—though several more examples are provided in the report—the University of Mississippi Medical Center was accused of using over $5.6 million in taxpayer funding to determine whether synthetic drugs like bath salts and flakka are as addictive as methamphetamine. The researchers did this by implanting catheters into two-month-old rats, which delivered meth or a mix of synthetic drugs. The study concluded that meth did not produce the same results as synthetic drugs, but that more studies are needed to test their abuse potential to determine how to regulate them.  

The report concludes by urging Congress to stop funding drug addiction experiments on animals, calling the tests antiquated that have little to no applicability to people.

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr