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Assisted Suicide and the War on Drugs

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

April 20, 2023

friend of mine told me yesterday that he believed we should have the right to assisted suicide in cases in which pain has grown unbearable.

I told him I agreed with him, sort of, but...

Assisted suicide is just like shock therapy and antidepressant use: it cannot be discussed meaningfully without first acknowledging the role that substance prohibition plays in shaping our views on the topic.

Shock therapy for depression, for instance, makes no sense whatsoever in a society that outlaws hundreds of godsend medicines (natural and synthetic) that could make the depressed happy without damaging one's brain1. Indeed, it shows a kind of Nazified2 Christian Science materialism to fry the brain of the depressed3 (while they bite down on a stick) in preference to letting the "patient" use the plant medicines that grow at their very feet, or in preference to letting them use laughing gas, or in preference to letting them chew the coca leaf, or in preference to letting them use any of the hundreds of godsend mind-opening synthetics formulated by Alexander Shulgin0054.

Surely American society is clinically ill for legislating such a cruel state of affairs.

Likewise, the use of dependency-forming anti-depressants makes no sense in a world in which we have outlawed hundreds of godsend pick-me-ups that cause far less (or even no) dependence and which inspire rather than tranquilize.

Yet psychiatric pundits continue to this day to laud shock therapy4 and anti-depressant use5, as if the Drug War does not exist and such therapies were the only conceivable way to treat depression: that is, either by damaging the brain of the depressed or else by tranquilizing them until they no longer complained of their situation in life, meanwhile turning them into a lifetime ward of the healthcare state.

For the same reason, it makes no sense to discuss assisted suicide in the abstract, without first acknowledging the role that prohibition plays in shaping our views on the topic.

For the fact is that most people would not need assistance to commit suicide if prohibition were ended. A large dose of morphine could dispatch the user peacefully. Seen in this light, one wants to ask, why should we ask for the assistance of bureaucrats or medical staff to exercise such a supposed right?6

The question is: when should a reasonable person believe that it is no longer worthwhile to live? After how much pain, for instance? After what dreary prospects?*

Yes, this must be a personal decision, but it should also be a fully informed decision, based on the fullest possible leveraging of the power of uncensored psychoactive medicine to help one endure, psychologically speaking, if not to thrive. The suicidal should know what's possible, not simply in the physical realm, but in the mental - and they can only know that once we start learning about psychoactive medicines rather than demonizing them.

The fact is, we do not know how much a human being can bear because we have never actively researched the psychoactive medicines that could help them to buck up, become more insightful, to see life (and pain) in a new way, etc. We know that morphine can give the intellectually inclined user a deep appreciation of mother nature. We know that Ecstasy can give the callous a feeling of love for their fellow human being.

We know that opium can provide metaphorical dreams in which tooth pain, for instance, can be objectified as the pounding of the sea and thus separated from the sufferer's own experience, essentially turning them into one of those legendary mountain-dwelling yogis with astonishing mental powers1.

So, yes, we should have the right to "assisted suicide" - but only in a world in which we have leveraged the mind-improving power of psychoactive medicine to the hilt - and we cannot do this until we renounce our nature-hating materialist outlook and start seeking out the endless wise and safe uses of psychoactive substances - though not with the help of those reductionist scientists who brought us the psychiatric pill mill. Instead, we need what I call pharmacologically savvy empaths to whom any human on earth can resort8 (humans, mind, not "patients"), not just to treat supposed pathologies like depression but simply in order to make sure that one is living the life that they desire, and not the life that Mary Baker Eddy would have them lead according to her drug-hating religion known as Christian Science.

My friend countered that some folks may not want to use morphine - and that's fine. Indeed, some pain is beyond the power of morphine to overcome. But my point is that the suicidal should have all sorts of pharmacological options available to them from the world of psychoactive medicine: hundreds of medicines, for surely a drug-using American is better than a dead American (and sometimes MUCH better) - and yet right now the suicidal have almost zero pharmacological options thanks to the materialistic and puritanical mindset of modern prohibitionists - those who, not content to kill Latinos in Latin America, are just as happy to make sure that suicidal Statesiders have as little to look forward to as possible.

*The endurance level of human beings is fantastically variable, even without the help of psychoactive medicine. There's the case of a former editor of Elle magazine who suffered locked-in syndrome and full-body paralysis and yet, instead of choosing suicide, wrote an entire book about his situation by blinking his eye in such a way as to dictate the text.

Author's Follow-up: April 21, 2023

Prohibitionists will say that I'm "glorifying drugs," but unlike them, I'd rather see a suicide risk addiction and arrest than to kill themselves. Moreover these risks, both of addiction and arrest, are products of the Drug War, not of drugs. And a person can stage a comeback from addiction -- at least if mother nature is free again and we leverage her mind-healing powers to the hilt -- whereas no one has yet staged a comeback from suicide9.

Author's Follow-up: January 30, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Even when effective psychoactive drugs are still technically legal, psychiatrists never think of employing them, partly due to the stigma that is attached to them thanks to the Drug War ideology of substance demonization and partly thanks to a materialist dogma which tells them they must treat "the real problem," not merely make the client happy -- which in practice means a laborious, lengthy, expensive and failure-prone process. Moreover such therapists completely ignore the therapeutic value of happiness -- and anticipation of happiness -- that drug use can provide, not to mention the virtuous circle that this can create: drug use increases happiness and contentedness, which increase one's performance levels in life, which increases one's happiness, etc. Depression is stubborn in the States only because therapists are blind to common-sense psychology.

For even though most psychoactive drugs have been outlawed, there are still a few that the DEA has yet to deprive us of: like laughing gas and coca wine -- although the DEA's job appears to be to remove every decent mind improving drug from the market -- and indeed, as I write, the feds are trying to treat laughing gas as a "drug" -- which means a politicially damned substance.


1 Quass, Brian, How Scientific American reckons without the drug war, 2023 (up)
2 Quass, Brian, Blaming Drugs for Nazi Germany, 2022 (up)
3 Quass, Brian, Electroshock Therapy and the Drug War, 2020 (up)
4 Quass, Brian, Why Scientists are not qualified to study the effects of DMT, 2023 (up)
5 Quass, Brian, Why SSRIs are Crap, 2023 (up)
6 Quass, Brian, Euthanasia in the Age of the Drug War, 2019 (up)
7 Quass, Brian, How Scientific American reckons without the drug war, 2023 (up)
8 Quass, Brian, Time to Replace Psychiatrists with Shamans, 2019 (up)
9 Quass, Brian, Coca Wine, 2024 (up)

Next essay: Ten Points that no one ever makes about so-called Drugs
Previous essay: More Weed Bashing at the Washington Post

More Essays Here

Addiction Tweets

ME: "What are you gonna give me for my depression, doc? MDMA? Laughing gas? Occasional opium smoking? Chewing of the coca leaf?" DOC: "No, I thought we'd fry your brain with shock therapy instead."
Until we get rid of all these obstacles to safe and informed use, it's presumptuous to explain problematic drug use with theories about addiction. Drug warriors are rigging the deck in favor of problematic use. They refuse to even TEACH non-problematic use.
Until we legalize ALL psychoactive drugs, there will be no such thing as an addiction expert. In the meantime, it's insulting to be told by neuroscience that I'm an addictive type. It's pathologizing my just indignation at psychiatry's niggardly pharmacopoeia.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
Chesterton might as well have been speaking about the word 'addiction' when he wrote the following: "It is useless to have exact figures if they are exact figures about an inexact phrase."
The government causes problems for those who are habituated to certain drugs. Then they claim that these problems are symptoms of an illness. Then folks like Gabriel Mate come forth to find the "hidden pain" in "addicts." It's one big morality play created by drug laws.
Chesterton wrote that, once you begin outlawing things on grounds of health, you open a Pandora's box. This is because health is not a quality, it's a balance. To decide legality based on 'health' grounds thus opens a Pandora's box of different points of view.
Using the billions now spent on caging users, we could end the whole phenomena of both physical and psychological addiction by using "drugs to fight drugs." But drug warriors do not want to end addiction, they want to keep using it as an excuse to ban drugs.
Jim Hogshire described sleep cures that make physical withdrawal from opium close to pain-free. As for "psychological addiction," there are hundreds of elating drugs that could be used to keep the ex-user's mind from morbidly focusing on a drug whose use has become problematic.
And this is before we even start spending those billions on research that are currently going toward arresting minorities.
When doctors try to treat addiction without using any godsend medicines, they are at best Christian Scientists and at worst quacks. They are like the doctors in Moliere's "M
As Moliere demonstrated in the hilarious finale, anyone can be THAT kind of doctor by mastering a little Latin and walking around pompously in the proper uniform.
Like the pompous white-coated doctor in the movie "Four Good Days" who ignores the entire formulary of mother nature and instead throws the young heroin user on a cot for 3 days of cold turkey and a shot of Naltrexone: price tag $3,000.

Prohibition Tweets

Democratic societies need to outlaw prohibition for many reasons, the first being the fact that prohibition removes millions of minorities from the voting rolls, thereby handing elections to fascists and insurrectionists.
When folks die in horse-related accidents, we need to be asking: who sold the victim the horse? We've got to crack down on folks who peddle this junk -- and ban books like Black Beauty that glamorize horse use.
Today's Washington Post reports that "opioid pills shipped" DROPPED 45% between 2011 and 2019..... while fatal overdoses ROSE TO RECORD LEVELS! Prohibition is PUBLIC ENEMY NUMBER ONE.
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.
Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."
Prohibition turned habituation into addiction by creating a wide variety of problems for users, including potential arrest, tainted or absent drug supply, and extreme stigmatization.
If we let "science" decide about drugs, i.e. base freedom on health concerns, then tea can be as easily outlawed as beer. The fact that horses are not illegal shows that prohibition is not about health. It's about the power to outlaw certain "ways of being in the world."
The formula is easy: pick a substance that folks are predisposed to hate anyway, then keep hounding the public with stories about tragedies somehow related to that substance. Show it ruining lives in movies and on TV. Don't lie. Just keep showing all the negatives.
Then folks like Sabet will accuse folks like myself of ignoring the "facts." No, it is Sabet who is ignoring the facts -- facts about dangerous horses and free climbing. He's also ignoring all the downsides of prohibition, whose laws lead to the election of tyrants.
That's the problem with prohibition. It is not ultimately a health question but a question about priorities and sensibilities -- and those topics are open to lively debate and should not be the province of science, especially when natural law itself says mother nature is ours.
I personally hate beets and I could make a health argument against their legality. Beets can kill for those allergic to them. Sure, it's a rare condition, but since when has that stopped a prohibitionist from screaming bloody murder?
I can think of no greater intrusion than to deny one autonomy over how they think and feel in life. It is sort of a meta-intrusion, the mother of all anti-democratic intrusions.
Enforced by the blatantly rights-crushing solicitation of urine from the king's subjects, as if to underscore the fact that your very digestive system is controlled by the state.
Until prohibition ends, rehab is all about enforcing a Christian Science attitude toward psychoactive medicines (with the occasional hypocritical exception of Big Pharma meds).
Philip Jenkins reports that Rophynol had positive uses for treating mental disorders until the media called it the "date rape drug." We thus punished those who were benefitting from the drug, tho' the biggest drug culprit in date rape is alcohol. Oprah spread the fear virally.
This is the "Oprah fallacy," which has led to so much suffering. She told women they were fools if they accepted a drink from a man. That's crazy. If we are terrified by such a statistically improbable event, we should be absolutely horrified by horses and skateboards.
This hysterical reaction to rare negative events actually creates more rare negative events. This is why the DEA publicizes "drug problems," because by making them well known, they make the problems more prevalent and can thereby justify their huge budget.
The Partnership for a Death Free America is launching a campaign to celebrate the 50th year of Richard Nixon's War on Drugs. We need to give credit where credit's due for the mass arrest of minorities, the inner city gun violence and the civil wars that it's generated overseas.
In 1886, coca enthusiast JJ Tschudi referred to prohibitionists as 'kickers.' He wrote: "If we were to listen to these kickers, most of us would die of hunger, for the reason that nearly everything we eat or drink has fallen under their ban."
Drug Warriors never take responsibility for incentivizing poor kids throughout the west to sell drugs. It's not just in NYC and LA, it's in modest-sized towns in France. Find public housing, you find drug dealing. It's the prohibition, damn it!
I don't believe in the materialist paradigm upon which SSRIs were created, according to which humans are interchangeable chemical robots amenable to the same treatment for human sadness. Let me use laughing gas and MDMA and coca and let the materialists use SSRIs.
What prohibitionists forget is that every popular but dangerous activity, from horseback riding to drug use, will have its victims. You cannot save everybody, and when you try to do so by law, you kill far more than you save, meanwhile destroying democracy in the process.
Prohibition is based on two huge lies: 1) that there are no benefits to drug use; and 2) that there are no downsides to prohibition.
The 1932 movie "Scarface" starts with on-screen text calling for a crackdown on armed gangs in America. There is no mention of the fact that a decade's worth of Prohibition had created those gangs in the first place.
The worst form of government is not communism, socialism or even unbridled capitalism. The worst form of government is a Christian Science Theocracy, in which the government controls how much you are allowed to think and feel in life.
The Shipiba have learned to heal human beings physically, psychologically and spiritually with what they call "onanyati," plant allies and guides, such as Bobinsana, which "envelops seekers in a cocoon of love." You know: what the DEA would call "junk."
And where did politicians get the idea that irresponsible white American young people are the only stakeholders when it comes to the question of re-legalizing drugs??? There are hundreds of millions of other stakeholders: philosophers, pain patients, the depressed.
Yes, BUT when they say "drugs plus therapy," they don't mean drugs in general. They mean a small selection of drugs that pass muster with pharmacologically clueless politicians.
I agree that Big Pharma drugs have wrought disaster when used in psychotherapy -- but it is common sense that non-Big Pharma drugs that elate could be used to prevent suicide and obviate the need for ECT.
There are a potentially vast number of non-addictive drugs that could be used strategically in therapy. They elate and "free the tongue" to help talk therapy really work. Even "addictive" drugs can be used non-addictively, prohibitionist propaganda notwithstanding.
We need to start thinking of drug-related deaths like we do about car accidents: They're terrible, and yet they should move us to make driving safer, not to outlaw driving. To think otherwise is to swallow the drug war lie that "drugs" can have no positive uses.
The DEA outlawed MDMA in 1985, thereby depriving soldiers of a godsend treatment for PTSD. Apparently, the DEA staff slept well at night in the early 2000s as American soldiers were having their lives destroyed by IEDs.
Imagine someone starting their book about antibiotics by saying that he's not trying to suggest that we actually use them. We should not have to apologize for being honest about drugs. If prohibitionists think that honesty is wrong, that's their problem.
I, for one, am actually TRYING to recommend drugs like MDMA and psilocybin as substitutes for shock therapy. In fact, I would recommend almost ANY pick-me-up drug as an alternative to knowingly damaging the human brain. That's more than the hateful DEA can say.
A pharmacologically savvy drug dealer would have no problem getting someone off one drug because they would use the common sense practice of fighting drugs with drugs. But materialist doctors would rather that the patient suffer than to use such psychologically obvious methods.
If there's any doubt about this, check out the 2021 article in Forbes in which a materialist doctor professes to doubt whether laughing gas could help the depressed. Materialists are committed to seeing the world from the POV of Spock from Star Trek.
If the depressed patient laughs, that means nothing. Materialists have to see results under a microscopic or they will never sign off on a therapy.
Oregon's drug policy is incoherent and cruel. The rich and healthy spend $4,000 a week on psilocybin. The poor and chemically dependent are thrown in jail, unless they're on SSRIs, in which case they're congratulated for "taking their meds."
Prohibitionists have blood on their hands. People do not naturally die in the tens of thousands from opioid use, notwithstanding the lies of 19th-century missionaries in China. It takes bad drug policy to accomplish that.

essays about

The Naive Psychology of the Drug War
Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
Suicide and the Drug War
The Handicapped NEED Crutches
Obama's Unscientific BRAIN Initiative
Lord Save us from 'Real' Cures
Disease Mongering in the age of the drug war
Why America is Hung Up on Drugs
How the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient
The Therapeutic Value of Anticipation
It's the Psychedelics, Stupid!
Illegal Drugs and the Imp of the Perverse

front cover of Drug War Comic Book

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You have been reading an article entitled, Assisted Suicide and the War on Drugs published on April 20, 2023 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)