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Addicted to Addiction

in Drug War USA

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 2, 2020

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 gambit fails 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:

Why Louis Theroux is Clueless about Addiction and Alcoholism
The Myth of the Addictive Personality
America's Invisible Addiction Crisis
Addicted to Ignorance
Open Letter to Addiction Specialist Gabriel Maté

Author's Follow-up: July 15, 2022

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.

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!

Next essay: Open Letter to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime
Previous essay: How the Drug War killed Leah Betts

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Drug use is judged by different standards than any other risky activity in the western world. One death can lead to outrage, even though that death might be statistically insignificant.
The FDA says that MindMed's LSD drug works. But this is the agency that has not been able to decide for decades now if coca "works," or if laughing gas "works." It's not just science going on at the FDA, it's materialist presuppositions about what constitutes evidence.
I can't believe people. Somebody's telling me that "drugs" is not used problematically. It is CONSTANTLY used with a sneer in the voice when politicians want to diss somebody, as in, "Oh, they're in favor of DRUGS!!!" It's a political term as used today!
The goal of drug-law reform should be to outlaw prohibition. Anything short of that, and our basic rights will always be subject to veto by fearmongers. Outlawing prohibition would restore the Natural Law of Jefferson, which the DEA scorned in 1987 with its raid on Monticello.
"Judging" psychoactive drugs is hard. Dosage counts. Expectations count. Setting counts. In Harvey Rosenfeld's book about the Spanish-American War, a volunteer wrote of his visit to an "opium den": "I took about four puffs and that was enough. All of us were sick for a week."
Unfortunately, the prohibitionist motto is: "Billions for arrest, not one cent for education." To the contrary, drug warriors are ideologically committed to withholding the truth about drugs from users.
Psychiatrists keep flipping the script. When it became clear that SSRIs caused dependence, instead of apologizing, they told us we need to keep taking our meds. Now they even claim that criticizing SSRIs is wrong. This is anti-intellectual madness.
Musk vies with his fellow materialists in his attempt to diss humans as insignificant. But we are not insignificant. The very term "insignificant" is a human creation. Consciousness rules. Indeed, consciousness makes the rules. Without us, there would only be inchoate particles.
I'm told antidepressant withdrawal is fine because it doesn't cause cravings. Why is it better to feel like hell than to have a craving? In any case, cravings are caused by prohibition. A sane world could also end cravings with the help of other drugs.
Opium is a godsend, as folks like Galen, Avicenna and Paracelsus knew. The drug war has facilitated a nightmare by outlawing peaceable use at home and making safe use almost impossible.
More Tweets

essays about

The Myth of the Addictive Personality
Addicted to Ignorance
America's Invisible Addiction Crisis
Open Letter to Addiction Specialist Gabriel Maté
Sherlock Holmes versus Gabriel Maté
Why Louis Theroux is Clueless about Addiction and Alcoholism
In the Realm of Hungry Drug Warriors
Modern Addiction Treatment as Puritan Indoctrination
How the Drug War Turns the Withdrawal Process into a Morality Tale
Night of the Addicted Americans
The aesthetic difference between addiction and chemical dependency
Tapering for Jesus
How Addiction Scientists Reckon without the Drug War
How Prohibition Causes Addiction
Four reasons why Addiction is a political term
Some Tough Love for Drug Addicts
My Cure for Addiction
The FDA's Hypocritical Concern about Addiction
Common Sense Drug Withdrawal
Fighting Drugs with Drugs

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

Buy the Drug War Comic Book by the Drug War Philosopher Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans

You have been reading an article entitled, Addicted to Addiction: in Drug War USA, published on August 2, 2020 on For more information about America's disgraceful drug war, which is anti-patient, anti-minority, anti-scientific, anti-mother nature, imperialistic, the establishment of the Christian Science religion, a violation of the natural law upon which America was founded, and a childish and counterproductive way of looking at the world, one which causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, visit the drug war philosopher, at (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)