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Drug Use as Self-Medication

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

December 4, 2022

"Society's prevailing view is that being medicated by a doctor is drug use, while self-medication is drug abuse. This justification rests on the principle of professionalism, not on pharmacology. [This] concept of drug abuse symbolizes scientific medicine's fundamental policy that laymen should place their care under the supervision of a physician. This is similar to the belief, prior to the Reformation, that laymen should not communicate directly with God but should place their spiritual care under the supervision of a duly accredited priest. The self-interest of the church and of medicine in such policies are obvious. These policies also relieve individuals of the burden of responsibility for themselves."-Thomas Szasz

The ultimate sin in the eyes of the psychiatrist is for a person to 'self-medicate.' But what exactly is wrong with self-medicating? Everybody used to self-medicate while laudanum was still available in the 19th-century medical cabinets of England.

Babies crying? Give them a few drops of laudanum. Tooth ache? Crack out the laudanum. In exquisite pain? Reach for the laudanum.

Of course, this practice cuts out the role of the physician in so many cases that it is natural that the latter would consider the very concept of self-medicating to be heresy.

But let's consider some of the psychological reasons why people might wish to self-medicate.

Many of us want to live large in this world, to transcend the misgivings and fears that hold us back in life, keeping us from being all that we could be. This is the simplest of psychological facts but one that the Drug Warriors completely ignore in their efforts to demonize all "drug users" as irresponsible hedonists. And what are the legal options of such seekers? We encourage them to visit a psychiatrist. And what will the psychiatrist provide: not a substance that will help them to live large, but rather an expensive tranquilizing med upon which they will be dependent for life.

In light of these facts, it is perfectly natural that folks would seek medical help outside the system. In fact, except for the fear of arrest, it is perfectly logical to make such a choice. If I have to use a drug every day for the rest of my life, I'd rather that drug be provided by a dealer who is not going to pry into my emotional life than by a bearded man in a three-piece suit who is going to pompously catechize me every three months of my life about my innermost feelings and the probability of my committing suicide. Moreover, I'd far rather use an illegal medicine that inspired the writings of HG Wells than a legal one that inspires nobody to write anything at all.

But the Drug War is all about dividing Americans, turning formerly law-abiding citizens into "dealers" through extreme economic incentive and then urging us to look upon such dealers as "scumbags" and "wastes of space." We are encouraged to be as cold-hearted and unforgiving toward dealers as Glenn Close's self-righteous character in "Four Good Days" (see also Glenn Close but no cigar). When she sees a teenage "pusher" on the streets, she mumbles, "He should be shot," before she rushes indoors and throws back an unusually large glass of wine, that is.

The fact is that people want to live as fully as possible and have, from the beginning of time, sought pharmacological means toward that end. The answer to this "problem" is not massive arrests and a demonization campaign to make us hate our fellow human beings; the answer is re-legalization of psychoactive medicines and a full and honest and ongoing discussion about their benefits and drawbacks. The answer, in short, is a rational approach, not the superstitious approach of the Drug War which falsely tells us that demonized substances have no positive uses for anyone, anywhere, at any time, ever.

Next essay: The Origins of Modern Psychiatry
Previous essay: Obama's Unscientific BRAIN Initiative

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The American Philosophy Association should make itself useful and release a statement saying that the drug war is based on fallacious reasoning, namely, the idea that substances can be bad in themselves, without regard for why, when, where and/or how they are used.
For those who want to understand what's going on with the drug war from a philosophical point of view, I strongly recommend chapter six of "Eugenics and Other Evils" by GK Chesterton.
If any master's candidates are looking for a thesis topic, consider the following: "The Drug War versus Religion: how the policy of substance prohibition outlaws the attainment of spiritual states described by William James in 'The Varieties of Religious Experience.'"

We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
"I can take this drug that inspires me and makes me compassionate and teaches me to love nature in its byzantine complexity, or I can take Prozac which makes me unable to cry at my parents' funeral. Hmm. Which shall it be?" Only a mad person in a mad world would choose SSRIs.
The search for SSRIs has always been based on a flawed materialist premise that human consciousness is nothing but a mix of brain chemicals and so depression can be treated medically like any other physical condition.
Imagine the Vedic people shortly after they have discovered soma. Everyone's ecstatic -- except for one oddball. "I'm not sure about these experiences," says he. "I think we need to start dissecting the brains of our departed adherents to see what's REALLY going on in there."

Did the Vedic People have a substance disorder because they wanted to drink enough soma to see religious realities?
No more than Jimi Hendrix had a substance disorder because he wanted to play his guitar with "total abandon." Drug warriors made sure he could not do that safely and then blamed his downfall on "drugs."
The search for SSRIs has always been based on a flawed materialist premise that human consciousness is nothing but a mix of brain chemicals and so depression can be treated medically like any other physical condition.
In a sane world, we'd package laughing gas for safe use and give it to the suicidal -- saying, "Use before attempting to kill yourself." But drug warriors would rather have suicide than drug use.
He'd probably then say: "In fact, we'd better outlaw this substance for now until we understand its biochemical mechanisms of action. We should follow the science, after all."

"When two men who have been in an aggressive mood toward each other take part in the ritual, one is able to say to the other, 'Come, let us drink, for there is something between us.' " re: the Mayan use of the balche drink in Encyc of Psych Plants, by Ratsch & Hofmann
Entheogens like ayahuasca may be just the right medicine for hypermate- rialistic human-kind on the threshold of a new millennium which will determine whether our species continues to grow and prosper, or destroys itself in a mas- sive biological Holocaust

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You have been reading an article entitled, Drug Use as Self-Medication published on December 4, 2022 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)