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How Cocaine could have helped me

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

August 16, 2020

ver since I was young, I have not understood the Drug War mentality. Why, for instance, could I not use cocaine in my late teens and early 20s when the symptoms that it produced were exactly what I was looking for at the time: namely, a release from morbid self-consciousness, thanks to which I could have capitalized on my innate talents for DJing - instead of self-destructing vocally before the microphone through self-doubt. Freud himself praised cocaine to the skies, claiming that it relieved his depression without depriving him of energy needed for work. Indeed, he expected cocaine to "win its place in therapeutics side by side morphine and superior to it." Nor did the drug hopelessly addict him. To the contrary, he used cocaine while it was useful to his work and quit it without fanfare (or the release of a self-pitying autobiography) when the drug no longer served his purposes in life.

Yet whenever I talked like this to psychiatrists, I was met with blank stares, and eventually warned that I sounded like an "addictive personality." An "addictive personality"! How ironic, considering that these same psychiatrists then went on to addict me for an entire lifetime to Big Pharma pills, which I must take every day of my life, to this very day, and which I couldn't quit if I wanted to, not because I lack willpower but because my own shrink has told me not to bother, since the Effexor I'm on has a recidivism rate equal to that of heroin.

An "addictive personality," indeed. Well, if you're just going to addict me anyway, why can't I be addicted to my poison of choice? Why can't I use cocaine instead of SSRIs and SNRIs?

The psychiatrist's absurd answer to that question illustrates all that is wrong with psychiatry today.

The psychiatrist will claim that cocaine "only targets the symptoms," you see, while Big Pharma has created pills that go right to the chemical imbalances that create depression in the first place.

This is wrong on a number of levels.

Notice that if the drug-warrior psychiatrist had had his or her way, Freud would never have been allowed to succeed in life. Cocaine, after all, would have been a big no-no. Instead, like myself, Freud would have been scheduled for weekly sessions where talk therapy would try to get "to the bottom" of his depression, the supposed "real" psychological cause - or where drugs would have been prescribed that would have supposedly targeted the "real" chemical cause. Result: we would have never heard of Freud today, but you can be sure that he would have been dutifully "taking his meds" until the last day of his life.

In fact, if the drug-warrior psychiatrist had gotten ahold of Robin Williams in time, the same thing would have happened to him: the world would have missed out on a comic legend, because Williams' coke use would have been considered a disease that needed to be cured so that Robin's "real" problems could be addressed, by talk and/or Big Pharma chemicals.

Unfortunately, the drug-warrior psychiatrists did get ahold of me, however. That's why you've never heard of me as a DJ. The psychiatrists gave my self-doubt and depression free rein. My life was put on hold as I was told to wait for the "real" cures to "kick in."

Well, it's been over four decades now, and I'm still waiting.

But on the upside, psychiatry's meds have made life just bearable. Perhaps that's the only benefit of modern SSRIs: they help one survive without achieving self-actualization in life. In fact, I am not a conspiracy theorist, but one could argue that the whole point of modern antidepressants is to turn the user into a good consumer, one who will be tranquilized just to the point that he or she can stand the absurdity of modern life - without turning the user into a potentially disruptive force by actually helping them achieve self-actualization.

How can psychiatry hold a viewpoint that is so at odds with common sense? How can they so blatantly ignore the "patient's" need for self-actualization in life? Why do they insist that patients survive on theories rather than on the real politik of drugs that actually do something to positively effect behavior? In short, why was cocaine a godsend for Sigmund Freud but a devilish drug as far as I'm concerned?


Because psychiatrists have been cowed by the Drug War into denying the obvious: that many illegal psychoactive substances do have therapeutic uses: not because they "cause" happiness in and of themselves (as the philosophically-challenged drug-warrior would require them to do) but because they facilitate behavior that creates success. As noted above, this success then improves self-image, creating a positive feedback loop viz the patient's personality. Result: the patient can succeed in life, oftentimes without the long-term use of the substance that created this "virtuous circle" in the first place.

Until psychiatry realizes these simple truths and ceases its pretentious search for "real causes" (that search that has resulted in the addiction of 1 in 4 American women to the supposedly real "targeted cures" mentioned above) they will continue sacrificing the vocational lives of ambitious Americans like myself on the altar of Drug War superstition.

POSTCRIPT: Yes, I was an addictive personality: I was addicted to self-actualization and I demanded it. I wasn't willing to accept the second-best life that psychiatry was proposing for me with its feeble theoretical half-measures.

Author's Follow-up: November 17, 2023

Freud is kind of like Coleridge. He bites the hand that feeds him. He determines eventually that cocaine is just too attractive to normal people -- but it's mere Christian Science piety to think that Freud would be known today for publishing over 320 books had he not employed vast quantities of cocaine. But the only message we're allowed to take from such stories is that cocaine is evil.1

Wrong. Wrong. Anti-scientifically wrong.

The message is: cocaine did some great things. How can we harness such power as safely as possible?

If we ask the right questions, then we can begin to get useful answers.

How can we harness such power as safely as possible?

I don't know, maybe, just maybe, we can start by being honest about drugs. Imagine that. Not that that's going to happen anytime soon in a society in which we sell dependence-causing Big Pharma meds like they were candy on prime-time television. Actually, it's government policy NOT to be honest about drugs. That's why we don't have a National Institute on Drug Use. We have instead a National Institute on Drug ABUSE -- since in the mind of the Drug Warrior, use and abuse are the same thing. That's why the Vancouver Police are arresting people for teaching safe use.

So, how CAN we harness such power as safely as possible?

Common sense reveals the answer once we take off the blinders of Drug War ideology:

Legalize all meds, and use drugs to fight drugs when problems arise. Psychiatrists would be replaced with pharmacologically savvy shaman: empathic individuals who have the authority to use ANY SUBSTANCE IN THE WORLD that might be helpful for their customers (not "patients") to achieve their goals in life.

We have to finally recognize the obvious: that symptomatic fixes work, and that, in fact, it's actually wrong and nightmarish to seek a "cure" for human sadness, lethargy, anxiety and angst.

What has the materialist search for that cure led to, after all, in America? It's led to nothing short of THE BIGGEST PHARMACOLOGICAL DYSTOPIA OF ALL TIME: namely, the fact that 1 in 4 American women are dependent upon Big Pharma meds for life.

We need to stop medicalizing mood and mind medicine. The doctor should tell us some basic info such as which doses are necessarily fatal -- but after that, they need to butt out and let people help people when it comes to mood and mind medicine. For doctors qua doctors have no special insight into the goals and desires of individuals and their views on self-transcendence and the meaning of life.


1 JJ, Tschudi, The Imperial Incas of Peru (from 'Travels in Peru'), (up)

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The FDA says that MindMed's LSD drug works. But this is the agency that has not been able to decide for decades now if coca "works," or if laughing gas "works." It's not just science going on at the FDA, it's materialist presuppositions about what constitutes evidence.
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Oregon has decided to go back to the braindead plan of treating substance use as a police matter. Might as well arrest people at home since America has already spread their drug-hating Christian Science religion all over the world.
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.
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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.
In "Four Good Days" the pompous white-coated doctor 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.
In the Atomic Age Declassified, they tell us that we needed hundreds of thermonuclear tests so that scientists could understand the effects. That's science gone mad. Just like today's scientists who need more tests before they can say that laughing gas will help the depressed. Science today is all about ignoring the obvious. And THAT's why scientists are drug war collaborators, because they're not about to sign off on the use of substances until they've studied them "up the wazoo." Using grants from an agency whose very name indicates their anti-drug bias: namely, the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
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front cover of Drug War Comic Book

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You have been reading an article entitled, How Cocaine could have helped me published on August 16, 2020 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)