A major study of people with addiction problems in Japan, published in the Japanese Journal of Alcohol Studies and Drug Dependence, found that the lonelier a Japanese person is, and the less able they are to cope with life, the more likely they are to engage in addictive behaviours or drugs.
This helps us to explain several things. The first is why, overall, Japan has relatively low levels of drug use and addiction. For all the other flaws of the society, Japan has a highly cohesive culture and an extensive welfare state, where relatively few citizens are abandoned, ignored, or written off. Japan has no ghettos – no equivalent to the places in the US, like West Baltimore, where there is a huge concentration of poverty and deprivation, providing pools of despair that are the perfect breeding ground for addiction. Japan’s low addiction rate is due to the fact that for most of its citizens, most of the time, the society looks more like Rat Park than the isolated cages the guarantee addiction.
Yet this also helps us to explain one of the most shocking facts about drug addiction in Japan today. The Japanese government’s own figures show that although addiction is relatively low, the vast majority of people who do develop addiction problems and then interact with the “system” – the state – stay addicted, and many get significantly worse. […] You will be shamed, stigmatised, and jailed, for having an addiction. A system like this only increases the pain and humiliation of people with addiction problems. This explains why so many of them continue to be addicted, or deteriorate further.
- [hari18:_japan] @Mischari18:_japan, author = Johann Hari, title = Japan, the place with the strangest drug debate in the world, howpublished = Online. https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/japan-place-with-strangest-drug-debate-in-world/, month = May, year = 2018, note = Accessed on 2019-03-22