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Elderly Victims of Drug War Ideology

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

June 24, 2022

y 94-year-old mother is in a memory care facility, where she often complains to me of having "knots" in her stomach, which is her way of saying that she is anxious as hell. This complaint always depresses me because I know that in a Drug War society, there is absolutely nothing that medical science can (or rather WILL) do for her. Why not? Because the Drug War has outlawed all the psychoactive medicine that might be of help to her in a non-addictive fashion. But it's really worse than that, because the Drug War ideology of substance demonization keeps us from even considering the ways that such medicines might help.

Like all good Americans, the stateside doctors have been indoctrinated since childhood to despise mother nature's psychoactive pharmacy. They probably even got a teddy bear from the state police during grade school as their reward for saying no to mother nature's godsend medicines. As for Big Pharma, they make their money off of addictive and dependence-causing medications, so they're of no help. To the contrary, the Drug War shunts thousands of women off onto such addictive meds because that's the only legal road that Drug War prohibition leaves open for the relief of such anxiety. That's why the Betty Fords of the world become hooked on Valium, not because drugs are bad per se (as Americans like to think) but because the Drug War has outlawed all but the intentionally addictive kinds of drugs, those for which dependency is not a "bug" but a feature.

In a world in which scientists were free to work with any medicine that held prima facie promise in ameliorating my mother's anxiety, there would be all sorts of anti-anxiety therapies and trials underway in America, first and foremost using drugs like MDMA and psychedelics, in all sorts of regimens, doses, settings, and overall approaches. At the risk of giving drug-hating Americans a stroke, the approaches could even include the non-addictive use of coca and opium. For drug-war propaganda notwithstanding, drugs like coca and opium can be used non-addictively. That surely comes as such a shock to brainwashed Drug Warriors that I'd better repeat that sentence in order to let it sink in: drugs like coca and opium can be used non-addictively.

Such therapy sounds impossible to westerners who are used to playing a passive role in their recovery from illness. If they have condition "A," they expect to take pill "B" for a cure and then sit back and let pharmacology do all the heavy lifting. But if we get out of the materialist habit of referring dysphoric emotional states to "illness," then we can begin imagining anxiety and depression cures of a shamanic nature in which a pharmacologically savvy "empath" works with a specific individual to craft a drug-using plan that alleviates anxiety without addicting the "patient" to the various nostrums thus employed.

The only way that we can do this and begin helping folks like my mother is to abandon the anti-scientific Drug War notion that psychoactive substances can be judged a priori as being good or evil, without regard for precisely how they are used: in what doses, what settings, for what reasons, for which people, etc. etc. To put it another way: pharmacologically clueless politicians like Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan should no longer have the last word in deciding what medicines are available for giving my mother peace of mind.

I know this is "a big ask," because helping my mom (and future anxious mothers like her) requires not simply the re-legalization of Mother Nature's bounty, it also requires our abandonment of the illness paradigm in which "patients" are considered to be interchangeable units, each theoretically amenable to the exact same addictive Big Pharma treatment, a treatment in which the patient's one and only job is to swallow pills (and don't get me started on the absurd amount of ineffective pills that Big Pharma has my mother swallowing on a daily basis). Only a shamanic approach (or more precisely, an approach informed by shamanistic holism) can lead us to the individualized therapies that can successfully leverage the vast relegalized pharmacy of Mother Nature for the benefit of the anxious (as well as the depressed, the lonely, etc.).

Until then, we may as well live in the Dark Ages when it comes to treating anxiety in the elderly (or in anyone else for that matter). The Drug War simply forbids us to treat such conditions effectively, the same way that it reduces our treatment for addiction to cold turkey and Narcan. Such shabby and stinting "non-treatments" give the lie to America's claimed status as a scientific and forward-looking country.

How do Americans live with themselves, knowing that the Drug War that they endorse is allowing for so much unnecessary emotional suffering in the world, if not for themselves, then for their friends and loved ones? I suspect that it has something to do with our Puritan heritage which tells us that there is a moral value in suffering, and so at some fundamental religious level, we would rather see our loved ones suffer than to see them achieving peace of mind using the kinds of medicines that our forebears have always associated with witchcraft and "savages." But that's a subject for another essay.

Next essay: Attention American Screenwriters: please stop spreading Drug War propaganda
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You have been reading an article entitled, Elderly Victims of Drug War Ideology published on June 24, 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)