ne reason why Drug War prohibition has lasted now over 100 years is the fact that otherwise sensible Americans have yielded to the temptation to medicalize and moralize the so-called "addiction problem," turning it into the symptom of some existential crisis. These well-intentioned liberals fail to recognize the fact that the term "addiction" is merely a political concept in a country that embraces the hypocritical moral standards of the Drug War. As Thomas Szasz pointed out in his 1974 ground-breaking book entitled "Ceremonial Chemistry", President John F. Kennedy and his wife regularly used amphetamines during the early '60s, courtesy of Dr. Max Jacobson, in order to keep them fresh for their whirlwind schedules, yet they were never considered addicts. They were just taking a medication, don't you see? Meanwhile, had the no-name poor indulged in a similar habit, they would have been instantly labeled as addicts, thrown into jail, subjected to moralizing counseling sessions (in which folks like Gabriel Maté would have searched for their "inner pain"), and been sent to 12-step programs to be reminded how helpless they were in the face of powerful chemical substances. Meanwhile, the poor people's "pusher" would have been thrown in jail and labeled as "vermin," the same term that the NAZIs reserved for Jews and homosexuals.
The Drug War in fact invented the idea of the morally flawed addict. Before 1914, regular opium users were described as habitués. After the Harrison Narcotics Act, they were referred to with the judgmental term "addicts." (The few well-known folks who obviously overused opium in 1800s Britain were laughed at, not considered a dire threat to the social fabric of the UK, this despite the fact that in some counties, virtually every household had laudanum on hand to treat things like colds, sleeplessness and bouts of depression.)
If these examples do not convince the reader that the term "addiction" is a political term, consider the fact that the great addiction crisis of our time does not even qualify as an addiction in the minds of most psychiatrists today. One in 4 American women and 1 in 8 American men are addicted to Big Pharma antidepressants, many of which are harder to kick than heroin, but psychiatrists refuse to even call this an addiction, nor even to condemn it using the pedantic equivocation of "chemical dependency." To do so would kill the golden goose of the psychiatric pill mill, both for psychiatrists and the pharmaceutical companies which supply them with a highly limited and highly addictive pharmacy. When heroin users need to stay on their illegal "drugs," they are "addicts"; when tens of millions of Americans need to stay on their legal "meds," they are good citizens, responsibly taking care of their mental health issues. They are on the wonderful-sounding "maintenance medications," don't you know (insert heavenly music here), and not on dirty evil "drugs" (insert acid rock here).
We actually ENCOURAGE Big Pharma addicts to "take their meds" while yet criminalizing the kinds of psychoactive medications that have inspired entire religions in the past.
Finally, pundits have no business drawing conclusions about the topic of addiction in the first place. Why? Because we live in a world that has outlawed almost all mood medicines that might make addiction treatment actually work, or help us to avoid addiction altogether. To opine about the cause of addiction in such a society is like opining about the cause of poor diets in a country that outlaws almost all food: it is a misleading and futile enterprise to the extent that it ignores the huge problem that prohibition is causing in both cases.
There would be no morbid focus on "addiction" in a free world. Rather, we would have pharmacologically savvy empaths who would work with clients (not patients) to help them "be all they can be in life," using psychoactive substances for that purpose if the client so desired. The goal would not be a hypocritically defined "sobriety," it would be the client's ability to succeed in life and accomplish their own goals, not those of drug-hating Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy.
Drug warriors will immediately scream that such freedom will result in addictions - but they have no leg (not even an ankle) to stand on, since the Drug War status quo has led to the biggest chemical dependency in American history - and it's not even the opioid crisis: it's the above-mentioned fact that millions of Americans have been turned into eternal patients by the Drug War.
Take me, for instance: I have been on Effexor for 25 years, and I am more depressed than ever. Yet, one hit of cocaine or opium would quickly "bring me around." And then offering me, say, a weekly "hit" of the same would cure me for life from my depression, not because such drugs falsely claim to address some chemical imbalance in my depressed mind, but because one is naturally less depressed when they have something to look forward to, in this case a vacation from one's otherwise morbid turn of mind. It's called the power of anticipation, a motivator which modern psychology dogmatically ignores, since to acknowledge it would suggest positive uses for illegal drugs and thereby run afoul of Drug War superstition which insists that drugs can bring nothing but heartbreak the moment that they are criminalized.
Even the most slam-dunk cases of "addiction" are usually not what they seem in the moralizing eye of the Drug Warrior: Dr. William Henry Welch was a founder of Johns Hopkins University and a lifelong user of morphine. Hearing this, the average Drug Warrior will express amazement that Welch could have accomplished so much while yet using the drug. What they fail to understand is that Welch accomplished so much BECAUSE of the drug: it gave him the stamina and mental focus that he was looking for (in the exact same way that the coca leaf gave the Peruvian Indians both physical and psychological endurance to thrive in the rain forest). These are the same brain-addled Drug Warriors who insist that Robin Williams could have been "so much more" had he only said no to drugs. Which is pure nonsense. Robin Williams said "yes" to so-called drugs because he CHOSE the life that he led and he wanted that pharmacological boost in his life in order to be the person that he elected to be. It is mere Christian Science ideology to insist that Williams would have been a better comedian or Welch a better doctor had they abstained from using chemical substances of which politicians have disapproved.
Would Marcus Aurelius have been a better emperor had he renounced the use of opium?
Would Plato have been a better philosopher had he refused to drink the psychedelic kykeon at Eleusis (which, by the way, gave his Socrates the idea of the afterlife)?
Would HG Wells and Jules Verne have written better stories had they renounced their use of coca wine? They certainly didn't think so. Though they all may well have been less effective and inspiring in life had they refused intoxication on the basis of some early Christian Science metaphysic.
These kinds of scruples about "drugs" would be absurd except in a Drug War society, in which we fetishize this politically created category of substances and hold it responsible for all evil.
And so the modern take on 'addiction' is pure nonsense in the era of the Drug War. Why? Because Drug Warriors do not want to get Americans off of drugs -- they want to get Americans on the "right" drugs, namely the ones that boost the bottom line of pharmaceutical companies, thereby enriching the politicians who represent them in Congress.
The opioid crisis, of course, is yet another natural result of drug prohibition, which outlaws non-addictive plant medicine while incentivizing dealers to sell the drugs most readily to-hand, even (indeed especially) when those drugs are extremely addictive. That said, even methamphetamine and crack cocaine can be used on a non-addictive basis -- but that's something the Drug Warrior will never tell you because their plan is always to demonize the substances that they deride as "drugs," not to teach about them in order to facilitate safe use. The fact that they dislike true drug education is clear given that they outlaw and otherwise discourage mere research on the substances that they have decided to demonize.
June 16, 2022
Indeed, under Joseph Biden's "leadership," the charter of the Office of National Drug Control Policy actually forbade members from considering potential positive uses of controlled substances. The goal of the organization was, after all, to demonize those substances, not to learn about them.
The Links Police
Do you know why I pulled you over? That's right, because the Drug War gives me carte blanche to be a noxious busybody. That, and the fact that you were about to drive right by the following essays related to the addiction topic broached above:
Drug War Psychiatry forced me to get off Valium by slow withdrawal, with no other medications to help me. What an unnecessary waste of many years of my life. In a world in which we did not have a jaundiced Christian Science view of psychoactive medicine, my treatment would have been very different indeed. I would have been treated one week to opium use with an empathic guide, in which I would discuss my feelings, my hopes, my fears, and speculate on the meaning of it all. Next week I might be treated to a day of morphine use, thanks to which (again with an empathic guide) I am brought to a fresh appreciation of the natural world around me. Then next week, via using the mushrooms that grow at my feet, I would have been guided to a greater appreciation of music. (This is just one of endless therapeutic scenarios that become obvious to us the moment that we abandon the Drug War ideology of substance demonization.)
In other words, in a sane world, free of the Drug War, my withdrawal years would not be a big black hole in my life, sucking in all useful activities. We would not obsess about the idea that I was addicted to a medicine -- we would simply solve that problem unostentatiously, using a variety of other medicines, not simply in order to make the valium withdrawal psychologically palatable for me, but to ensure that my withdrawal experience is not all about withdrawing -- but rather that I am still LIVING during the months and years in which I am getting "off" a given substance or substances. This is very different from the current Drug War treatment of addiction, which turns the withdrawal process into a momentous morality tale, an epic struggle between good and evil, in which one is fighting for the Christian Science goal of becoming "sober," as that word is hypocritically defined by the modern Drug Warrior.
The current treatment for addiction involves 12-step sob sessions in which "addicts" confess their helplessness. But wait! Why are these addicts helpless in the first place? Because the Drug War denies them all the godsend medicines that could help them get their lives back in shape without the horrors of cold turkey.
Here's something that today's addiction experts won't tell you: coca and opium can be used non-addictively, and even the regular use of opium does not destroy a life -- except when there is a Drug War out there to make sure that such lives are destroyed. But let's say that you foreswear such mental nostrums and desire to seek mental help legally like a good Christian and patriot? This will save you from a life of chemical dependency, right?
Wrong. For while habituation is a mere POTENTIAL side effect of drugs like opium and coca, habituation is a BUILT-IN FEATURE of modern Big Pharma drugs. From benzodiazepines to SSRIs, all of those drugs create a chemical dependence that can be harder to kick than heroin. And that's not a "bug," the pharmaceutical companies made these drugs that way, for obvious financial reasons (since they were hardly thinking of empowering patients by so doing).
But according to the modern addiction "expert," we are troubled individuals if we develop a habit of, say, opium use -- while we are good patients if we develop a habit of anti-depressant use.
Ever notice the following line in modern movies: "Did you take your meds?" It's usually said half-jokingly, but it's a sign of the hypocritical times. When it comes to using demonized substances, one is "doing drugs," as in "doing" a crime -- but when it comes to using Big Pharma substances, one is "taking their meds." The former act is horrible -- the latter is a moral duty. Moreover, the phrase is usually uttered when a person is "acting up" and annoying his or her fellows, thereby implying that the point of taking Big Pharma drugs in America is to tranquilize users and make them "peaceable," as opposed to empowering them to be the unique human beings that they are. Considered in this light, the massive chemical dependency of 1 in 4 American women on Big Pharma drugs begins to look like an insidious conspiracy, as if we are living the real-life version of "The Stepford Wives."
And yet when we choose the less addictive options of opium and coca, we are told by our addiction "experts" that we have an inner pain that will only be resolved when we deal with our innermost issues.
Wrong. The real problems here will only be resolved when America deals with ITS inner issues (like inadequate education for the young and the mass incarceration of minorities) rather than blaming everything on the boogieman called "drugs." The real problems here will only be resolved when America stops mindlessly demonizing one set of drugs (plant medicines and MDMA, etc.) while mindlessly canonizing another (those Big Pharma meds that inevitably lead to a lifetime of drug dependency). This, incidentally, is what Jules Buchanan importantly refers to as "drug apartheid." The real problems will only be resolved when America chooses education over fact- and history-challenged substance demonization.
Now, don't get me wrong (you fans of Gabriel Maté): it may well be true that those who seek out godsend plant medicine for emotional cures are those who have "inner issues" in the sense that, perhaps they received few hugs as a child or had no positive role models, et cetera. But the number of such individuals is so enormous in the world that it's almost meaningless to say that they suffer from inner issues. We should say, rather, that they suffer from the common lot of humanity in an imperfect world. We should not look to the enormously rare self-sufficient individual and conclude that anyone who is not like them is pathological in some sense. We should say, rather, that the self-sufficient individual is extraordinary, and/or extraordinarily lucky.
Nor is it obvious that even the seemingly self-sufficient individual could not benefit from psychoactive medicine. We know, for instance, that there are drugs out there which, under the right circumstances, can drastically increase one's love of music, or one's appreciation of the byzantine intricacy of Mother Nature's plants, etc. Once we speak honestly about how such drugs can be used safely -- Drug Warrior misinformation notwithstanding -- it begins to look foolish, in fact, for that seemingly actualized individual to shun such medicine on principle. Wouldn't they rather see what they're missing viz. music and nature, rather than assume that there's nothing left for them to learn in life, experientially speaking? Smart people could only answer "no" to that question if they've been bamboozled by hypocritical Drug Warrior lies that seek to demonize psychoactive medicines by falsely claiming that they are too dangerous to use anywhere, ever, for any reason whatsoever -- which is the noxious lie that sends American troops overseas to burn plants like so many superstitious Christian Science zealots.
Sure, one can overdo it on these meds -- but only in a world in which we demonize medicine rather than teaching about it. Nor can we opine advisedly on the difficulty of treating any resulting addictions, given the fact that we as a Drug War society have ruled out, a priori, the use of thousands of godsend medicines which could guide the user from destructive use to constructive use -- and/or keep the destructive use from happening in the first place. The addiction crisis in these cases arises from our Christian Science bias that the "cure" for addiction must be a hypocritically defined "sobriety," as opposed to the advised use of substances that help the "addict" (habitué?) succeed in life according to their own definition of that term.
Author's Follow-up: October 30, 2022
Drug Warriors are afraid of addiction -- but not afraid enough that they'll teach you how to avoid it. For the fact is that even crack cocaine can be used non-addictively if one is taught how to do so. But the Drug Warrior's specialty is fearmongering, not teaching. Meanwhile, Drug Warriors hate "drugs" so much that they force the chronically depressed to undergo brain-damaging shock therapy rather than to allow them to chew the coca leaf to cheer them up. Yes, Drug Warriors would rather fry your brain than let you use plant medicine that was divine for the Inca. And you thought that Christian Science founder Mary Baker Eddy was a fanatic when it comes to hating drugs.
Related tweet: October 30, 2022
It's the Drug War that creates addicts. Before opium was outlawed, America had opium habitues. After 1914, they became 'addicts,' with all the more stigma that the epithet implies. https://abolishthedea.com/addicted_to_ad
Related tweet: November 10, 2022
In response to a tweet concerning the 'underlying causes' of addiction:
The underlying cause of addiction is the Drug War. There were opium habitues prior to 1914. After the Harrison Narcotics act, we called them 'addicts.' Addiction is a political term in a drug-war society, which outlaws all the medicines that could help prevent and/or treat it.
Author's Follow-up: December 29, 2022
Another myth of the Drug War: the idea that substance users have some hidden trauma they are adjusting for. What is pathological about someone seeking good feelings and a snappy personality? Nothing. Their behavior may be risky given drug law and their lack of information about safe use, but it is nevertheless understandable. We pathologize "drug users" because of our puritan belief that a normal person does not want to "live large" and have a pharmacological boost in their life. They should be satisfied with Jesus and God after all -- er, I mean with a 'higher power.' Rather than acknowledging that some people may actually choose such a life, we claim that sort of desire is a sign of illness. What a self-satisfied farce: to declare that what Heidegger called other ways of "being in the world" are actually illnesses! This mindset reminds one of the western world's conviction that the poor and disempowered are savages, so far are they from the western ideal of worshiping God and going to church of a Sunday!
No Drug War Keychains The key to ending the Drug War is to spread the word about the fact that it is Anti-American, unscientific and anti-minority (for starters)
Monticello Betrayed Thomas Jefferson By demonizing plant medicine, the Drug War overthrew the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America -- and brazenly confiscated the Founding Father's poppy plants in 1987, in a symbolic coup against Jeffersonian freedoms.
The Drug War Censors Science Scientists: It's time to wake up to the fact that you are censored by the drug war. Drive the point home with these bumper stickers.
You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.
A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.
The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.
It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)
If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.
PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley.
Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company