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Fighting Drugs with Drugs

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

May 1, 2024

he Drug War is based on a web of lies, misunderstandings, and false assumptions. One of those false assumptions is that drugs can never - BUT NEVER - be used to fight drugs, that quitting drugs must be done by the gnashing of teeth and the rending of garments - combined with weekly meetings in 12-step groups wherein participants are encouraged to describe the particular gnashing and rending that has taken place in their life over the last seven days1. For the default expectation of every rehab group is that the participants are going to strive to "get clean," which means basically that they are going to forswear all drugs, with the possible hypocritical exception of Big Pharma "meds." The goal is not really to help the participants to achieve their dreams in life, but rather to help them achieve the group's goal of turning them into drug-hating Christian Scientists a la Mary Baker Eddy2.

Have you ever stopped to think why withdrawal programs in general have such a high recidivism rate? Look no further. It is our refusal to fight drugs with drugs that turns each case of so-called addiction into a nightmare and guarantees us a moral story that can be served up to Americans on shows like 48 Hours3 in order to remind the viewer that drugs are a dead end. Well, of course they're a dead end when we have closed all the byways with which tragedy can be avoided. I write from experience. I spent a decade attempting to get off of Valium, something that I now see would have been easy had I been allowed to use alternative medicines that could both elate me while helping me reconsider my priorities in life. Sure, I have no medical proof that such freedom would have gotten me off of Valium quickly, but I do not need medical proof, for it is, frankly, common psychological sense that such therapies would work. Unfortunately, common sense is not something that materialist science is known for, since it cannot be properly charted and graphed and so communicated intelligibly to one's potential funders.

The physical side of addiction can be overcome with pharmacologically enhanced sleep cures, treatments that were already in place in 1999 when Jim Hogshire published Opium for the Masses4. I assume that such treatments have proliferated and improved over time insofar as all technology seems to be advancing, although it's worth noting that Drug Warriors are not exactly crying out for such improvements: for the fact is that addiction is the boogieman with which racist politicians seek to frighten Americans into renouncing their Constitutional freedoms. Solve the addiction problem and the Drug Warrior is out of business. This is why we never hear talk of a Manhattan Project to end addiction, which would be their cause célèbre if politicians were as worried about the topic as their fatalistic chatter would seem to suggest. But they don't want to end addiction: they want to keep using it as an excuse to crack the heads of minorities, especially those who would never vote for them in a million years5.

As for psychological cures, the world is our oyster when we start strategically using plant medicine like shamans to combat a specific problem in a specific individual - in contrast to the materialist desire to treat human beings as identical biochemical widgets, each amenable to the same pill. The work of drug researchers like Ross Heaven6, James Fadiman7 and Stanislav Grof8 are full of anecdotal evidence of positive life changes wrought by psychoactive medicine. Alexander Shulgin9 created hundreds of drugs that work like MDMA10 to inspire positive thinking and a realignment of misplaced values. The book Plants of the Gods11 introduced the west to hundreds of natural psychoactive substances which could change a user's attitudes when employed in shamanic fashion, both their attitude toward drugs and their attitude in general. By using such drugs in empathic protocols, the withdrawal process could be tailored to the user's desires and not required to jibe with the tenets of Christian Science12 (no drugs allowed) or Reductive Materialism13 (no psychologically obvious cures allowed).

Yet the reigning prejudice is that it is absurd to fight drugs with drugs (as if "drugs" were an objective category in the first place and not a catchall term for substances of which pharmacologically clueless politicians disapprove14).

Take me, for instance. I'm told that to get off SNRIs, I must... wait for it, folks... get off SNRIs. No naughty plant medicine can be used! That's the withdrawal protocol of modern science in the 21st century! In other words, I'm told that I must get off those drugs entirely before the doctor can even think of prescribing another drug.

This reminds me of Steve Martin's prescription for becoming a millionaire in the movie "The Jerk":

"First, get yourself a million dollars."

The fact is that the use of psychoactive medicine to change behavior for the better is a no-brainer, or it would be in a world that valued psychological common sense. But materialist science has no faith in common sense, just as it scorns both anecdote and history. Today's materialist even denies that laughing gas can help the depressed15. Why? Because they do not have microscopic evidence of such efficacy. True, the user may be laughing right in their face, but that means nothing. The materialist refuses to see what used to be obvious to everyone, namely that feeling good is therapeutic, and that looking forward to feeling good is therapeutic as well. It's a virtuous circle powered by happiness and anticipation16, but materialists refuse to recognize such power since they cannot properly quantify it and add it to a PowerPoint presentation for their next funding appeal. This willful myopia in turn gives cover to the DEA when they make the outrageous claim, in the teeth of thousands of years of evidence, that psychoactive plant medicine has no positive uses whatsoever.

But then modern scientists are forced to feign ignorance about the glaringly obvious, because once they admit that feeling good is helpful, it immediately follows that any uplifting drug is a potentially valid antidepressant in some circumstance, at some dose, for some person, at some time. If a suicidal patient perks up because they are allowed to use cocaine or opium every weekend - or psilocybin if you prefer, since the modern American has been taught to be as censorious as a schoolmarm on this topic -- so be it.

Here's where another Drug War lie comes to the rescue of the Drug Warrior, however: the idea that drugs can be judged "up" or "down," and so if a drug can be misused by one demographic at some dose, in some circumstances, then the Drug Warrior insists that it must not be used for any demographic, at any dose, in any circumstances. This, of course, is the antithesis of a scientific understanding of drugs, which has always held that the context of drug use matters and that no substance is bad in and of itself, no, not even cyanide or botox, both of which "deadly" toxins have positive uses at some dose, in some circumstances. Yet the scientist must accept the Drug Warrior prejudices without comment lest they offend their wealthy benefactors. It's called the censorship of science, in fact, though one waits in vain for most scientists to acknowledge it as such17.

The standard objections to this human-centered protocol that I am describing are based on yet more Drug War lies, like the idea that regular daily use of "drugs" is wrong and constitutes addiction by itself. And yet drug law does all it can to give users problems and hence turn their daily use into addiction as defined by Webster's dictionary18. Moreover, modern science has no leg to stand on when it scorns daily use, since we live in a time when the depressed are encouraged by the mainstream media to "keep taking their meds" every day of their life, until death do they part. The idea that this is justified while "drug" use is not is mere hypocrisy and scientism, the idea that a materialist treatment is science and therefore HAS to be right and (lacking a better word in an officially Godless universe) moral. In reality, using opium daily makes just as much sense as taking an antidepressant daily: in fact, it makes more sense insofar as opium has been recognized as the closest thing to a panacea by the great doctors of the past (Avicenna, Paracelsus, Galen) while no regular user of Big Pharma meds would ever make that claim about antidepressants.

Yet we arrest folks for using opium while we praise them for using Big Pharma meds, a state of affairs that says all one needs to know about Drug War hypocrisy.

It will be argued that such an approach as mine has never been tried before, and yet this is not so. It is a way of life in all tribal societies, including the ones in Latin America that the west decimated in the 16th century and which we are still decimating today with our insistence that the plant medicines that they use are evil. (This attitude toward life has a name, by the way: it is called Cosmovision19.) That's why I am personally headed to the Andes in my attempts to get off of SNRIs, since at least a handful of shamanic medicines are still legal down there despite America's attempts to strong-arm the world into having them criminalized. My goal is to use San Pedro cactus20 in particular to help me to psychologically withdraw from SNRIs. This will take some nuanced research to avoid complications with a rare phenomenon called "serotonin syndrome," especially since the variety of "helper plants" to which I will have access are strictly limited, even in Mesoamerica. But since no one seems to be doing clinical research for my demographic - namely, those who want to get off Big Pharma meds with the help of plant medicine - I am forced to be something of a pioneer in this area.

I conclude with this biographical reference to demonstrate that I am doing more than writing about this thesis, that we should fight drugs with drugs; I am practicing what I preach, to the limited extent that international drug law will allow me to do so, of course.

Finally, I have said that the goal of withdrawal therapies should not be to render the user drug free, since that is to enforce the precepts of the drug-hating religion called Christian Science. That said, however, there is nothing wrong with an individual choosing a drug-free life as their goal, even in the drug-aided therapy that I advocate. For psychedelic meds in particular demonstrate the power to help us clarify and achieve goals, even if the goal is pharmacological abstinence.

Personally, of course, I cannot understand a life of total abstinence, since there are drugs out there which can exalt our sense of smell, of sight, of sound, of touch, and greatly heighten our appreciation of Mother Nature, etc. Why would one NOT want to partake, at least in certain circumstances, at certain times, especially given the fact that we are only just beginning to study the vast pharmacopoeia of psychoactive medicine with an eye toward using it for the benefit of humanity? To say no to such meds a priori at this point seems to me to be a very poor choice, indeed. In fact, it's a choice that I find inexplicable unless I suppose it to have been influenced by unacknowledged Drug War prejudices.


1 Quass, Brian, Replacing 12-Step Programs with Shamanic Healing, 2019 (up)
2 Christian Science is the religion of Mary Baker Eddy, who believed that drug use was wrong because all problems, mental and physical, were to be solved by praying to Jesus Christ. (up)
3 Quass, Brian, 'Synthetic Panics' by Philip Jenkins, 2023 (up)
4 Hogshire, Jim, Opium for the Masses: Harvesting Nature's Best Pain Medication, (up)
5 Hansen, Helena, Whiteout: How Racial Capitalism Changed the Color of Opioids in America, 2023 (up)
6 Heaven, Ross, Shamanic Plant Medicine - San Pedro: The Gateway to Wisdom, everand, 2016 (up)
7 Fadiman, James, The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys , Park Street Press, New York, 2011 (up)
8 Grof, Stanislav, The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness, Sounds True, Boulder, Co., 1998 (up)
9 Quass, Brian, Alexander Shulgin: American Hero, 2022 (up)
10 Wininger, Charles, Listening to Ecstasy, 2021 (up)
11 Schultes, Plants of the Gods:Origins of Hallucinogenic Use, 1979 (up)
12 Quass, Brian, Drug Testing and the Christian Science Inquisition, 2022 (up)
13 Quass, Brian, Materialism and the Drug War, 2022 (up)
14 Quass, Brian, There are no such things as drugs, 2020 (up)
15 Can Laughing Gas Help People with Treatment Resistant Depression?, Forbes Magazine, 2021 (up)
16 Quass, Brian, The Therapeutic Value of Anticipation, 2020 (up)
17 Quass, Brian, Self-Censorship in the Age of the Drug War, 2020 (up)
18 Quass, Brian, The aesthetic difference between addiction and chemical dependency, 2023 (up)
20 San Pedro: Basic Info, ICEERS The International Center for Ethnobotanical Education, Research, and Service, (up)

Next essay: Sacred Plants in the Age of Cynicism
Previous essay: I'll See Your Antidepressants and Raise You One Huachuma Cactus

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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.

essays about

The Myth of the Addictive Personality
Addicted to Ignorance
Addicted to Addiction
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

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, Fighting Drugs with Drugs published on May 1, 2024 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)