Essay date: July 12, 2023

Doping Arizona

FDA approves Lexapro for kids

he FDA has just approved the antidepressant Lexapro for kids, despite the fact that 1 in 4 American women are already dependent on such drugs for life.

This is a bizarre dystopian outrage in the age of the Drug War, which outlaws all common sense godsends and forces the depressed to rely on dependence-causing meds that enrich Big Pharma.

How does Big Pharma get away with it? In part because decrim advocates like Carl Hart, Rick Doblin and DJ Nutt continue to insist that pharmaceuticals are scientific and (therefore) valid treatments for depression. As I've said time and time again, Cassandra-like, destined to be ignored apparently (at least in my lifetime), one cannot assess SSRIs without reckoning with prohibition, which gives antidepressants a monopoly on treating depression.

In a world in which common-sense godsends are outlawed (or heartily discouraged) - like laughing gas, coca, occasional opium, occasional speed, MDMA, etc. - it makes ZERO SENSE to prescribe antidepressants. ZERO. The sensible course - the pro "patient" course - is to decry loudly and forcibly the outlawing of godsend treatments for the depressed. I mean to say that the moral imperative is to demand legalization. If, in the meantime, antidepressants are prescribed because they are the only legal game in town, then they should be prescribed, as it were, in protest - not hailed, as Doblin and company hail them, as good in and of themselves, these drugs that numb rather than inspire. In this sense, antidepressants are like shock therapy. Whatever you say of that treatment (and I abhor it and think it scientism gone amok), it makes ZERO sense in a world in which we have outlawed drugs that could elate WITHOUT damaging the brain, and so ECT if used (and please don't), it can only be used, as it were, under protest as well, lest we give prohibition a huge mulligan for damaging brains and unnecessarily diminishing human potential.

But America (and the west) love "science," and as long as we can pretend that antidepressants are created according to a reductionist and materialist formula (even though Science News itself has reminded us that they do not really fix a chemical imbalance), we turn around and say: "let science be science." But this is scientism at work, not true science. Unfortunately, even prominent drug researchers don't get that.

Carl Hart, in his otherwise excellent book "Drug Use for Grown-Ups," goes so far as to say that his advocacy for legalization is not meant to suggest that the depressed should use "drugs" - but rather they should stay on their scientifically developed meds (Where have I heard that before: "Just take your meds," a slogan that keeps stockholders laughing all the way to the bank.)

It would appear that depressed folk like myself cannot join in any of Carl's reindeer games. We sick guys should stay dependent as patients for life, wards of the healthcare state, using drugs that tranquilize rather than inspire. Which, sorry, Carl, but... wrong. If you have a right to use drugs recreationally, surely I have an even greater right to use them therapeutically.

Carl's proprietary attitude on this topic surprised and bothered me. As a chronic depressive myself, I looked forward to Carl normalizing the use of the many godsends out there for the depressed - but he wants to tell me that I should just listen to my doctors and remain a patient for life. No, Carl: I've done that for 45 years and I'm more depressed than ever; whereas, if I had the coca leaf to chew or MDMA to use on a weekend or occasional opium, etc., I would not have been depressed. It's called intermittent use. Human psychology, after all, is not a black box, Carl - it does not take a scientist to understand. Good times - and anticipation of good times - improve overall mood. It's just that simple. If scientists do not consider that to be scientific, that's their own problem. I'd rather be happy than be "scientifically correct" and a ward of the healthcare state.

It's worth notice, that in a free market, no one would buy these scientific godsends that Carl so casually signs off on. Surely that mere fact should tell Carl something about how useful such drugs actually are in fighting depression. Indeed, the shopper's comparison would be stark were all drugs to be re-legalized. Just imagine the shopper comparing depression therapies in a free world.: "Okay, I could buy an expensive SSRI that numbs my brain and turns me into a ward of the healthcare state and which I have to take for life... or I can take a substance that elates and inspires me with new ideas and stamina and which, if used wisely, does not have to cause dependence at all, a substance which keeps me from becoming a patient in the first place. Gee now, which option should I go for...?"

This is why psychiatry is the handmaiden of the Drug War, dispensing meds that no one in their right mind would use except for the monopoly that psychiatry currently has on mood medicine thanks to prohibition.

But it's not surprising that Carl toes the line about the supposed scientific efficacy of antidepressants. He's a scientist after all. He's already asking his colleagues to swallow a lot when he calls for the decriminalization of drugs; he would surely alienate them entirely were he to question the scientific nature of antidepressants. Still, he might have stayed silent on the subject, rather than carving out an exception for drug use which bars outlawed medicines from precisely those who need them the most. Why? Apparently because Big Pharma meds are "scientific," whereas drugs are... (ahem)... just drugs. This false dichotomy is a product of the same tone-deaf scientism which causes Dr. Robert Glatter to naively ask if laughing gas could help the depressed (see Forbes magazine, 2019). Of course it could help, but Glatter needs reductionist proof - he doesn't care how much I laugh on NO2 - or how much I look forward to laughing, thereby improving my overall mood. Such obvious facts count for nothing in modern materialist science. If it can't be viewed under a microscope or under FMRI, then it does not count.

I have mentioned the problem with decrim advocates promoting Big Pharma cures under the false belief that they are scientific; but even the most outspoken enemies of Big Pharma miss the point. Dr. McFillin, for instance, is outraged about the approval of Lexapro for kids, but he considers all mind and mood medicine to be unnecessary, not just antidepressants. But the doc has just replaced scientism with Christian Science. For there is no compelling rational reason why we should foreswear the use of psychoactive drugs for mental or emotional improvement, least of all when the medicines come straight from mother nature, which God himself tells us are good. Certainly, if McFillin had grown up in a rain forest surrounded by drugs, he would not grow up to tell his mates that all those medicines should not be used. (What an oddball Mac would seem out in the wild: "Come on, guys, we should just eat wholesome plants: you know, those that do not affect our minds! Don't eat anything that makes you feel good at all! Just appreciate the beauty of the jungle, stone cold sober - except for our native coffee, of course, and our regularly updated cache of Corona Extra.")

In a recent Tweet, McFillin assured me that all one needed to beat depression was meditation, friends, a good novel, etc. etc. One wonders if the doc had imbibed his first cup of coffee before writing that 1980s-style bromide. How many times have I seen similar posts, piously telling me that all one needs is to get out in nature and just, as it were, allow oneself to be happy. Such comments (which are simultaneously condescending, naïve, and presumptuous) remind me of the wornout Josef K. in The Castle. When the officials tell K. that they are weary as well, the narrator remarks: "One had to conclude from this that it was by nature an entirely different kind of weariness from K's. Here it was probably weariness in the course of happy work, something that from the outside looked like weariness but was actually indestructible calm, indestructible peace." Likewise, I'm sure that what McFillin experiences as depression is a very different beast from the depression that I experience, a depression which is most visible in the rearview mirror in the form of endless goals not quite reached, endless roads not quite taken, abandoned simply because one got dragged down in morbid introspection and a pathological doubt of the meaning of it all.

The galling thing is to know - both from rational reflection and from past experience - that such moods could be countermanded at will, if only racist politicians had not outlawed godsend medicines and put government in charge of dispensing (or withholding) the psychoactive bounty of Mother Nature.

This is why opposing the Drug War is so difficult - it's based on so many cleverly hidden assumptions that it seems like every Drug War opponent has at least one area in which they are bamboozled as well, whether it's their scientistic belief in Big Pharma medicines or their puritanical disdain for "drugs." Even Terence McKenna himself was a supporter of drug apartheid, the mistaken idea that psychedelics are great while coca and opium are bad. Terence shared the Drug Warrior prejudice that drugs are to be judged based on one's impression of the sort of people who happen to be using them in the culture in which one happens to live.

One would hope, however, that everyone would agree on one thing: namely, that kids should not be made part of a pill mill upon which 1 in 4 American women are already dependent for life.

Unfortunately, the approval of Lexapro for kids shows us that this is no longer the case today, which is just another sign that drug policy in the US is all about power, politics and money, and has nothing to do with public health.

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You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at 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.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

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. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.

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)

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