Essay date: February 24, 2021

How Psychiatry and the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient

and what we should do about that

The psychiatric pill mill is the natural result of a Drug War in a capitalist society.

omorrow morning, I have to meet yet again with a "doctor" who is half my age and explain to him or her for the thousandth time why I deserve to receive yet another expensive refill on an SNRI antidepressant that the NIH has found to be as hard to kick as heroin. As a 62-year-old, I find such appointments to be the most disempowering and humiliating form of healthcare imaginable. It has made me a ward of the healthcare state and an eternal patient. Even if the Effexor that I've been taking now for 25 years had cured my depression (which it did not), I would be depressed by the fact that I had to visit Healthcare Harbor every three months of my life as a sort of Ancient Mariner, to tell my life story over and over again to a series of complete strangers. How am I supposed to feel "normal" and "well" when the psychiatric profession keeps reminding me that I am a "patient" by forcing me to jump through all the time-consuming and expensive hoops that come with that label?

Despite my dissatisfaction with the psychiatric pill mill, however, it is the Drug War which I really blame for my eternal patient status, since Drug Warriors long ago outlawed all the far-less-addictive medicines that were facilitating fantastic psychological breakthroughs in the early '60s, including psychedelic meds which, when administered by a pharmacologically savvy empath, could have helped me re-imagine my life and lift my mind out of the mental ruts that it was carving for itself. But I guess I was destined to go without psychoactive godsends, having been born in the late '50s, at the very time when racist politicians were just beginning to demonize and outlaw the non-addictive medicines that were already racking up victories in treating the "mentally ill," including many hardcore alcoholics. Indeed Bill Wilson of AA was successfully treating alcoholics with psychedelic therapy when I was born, a treatment that would soon be shut down, however, by politicians who associated psychedelics with their political enemies of the time (you know, those dreadful hippies).

My goal now in life is to show the world how the psychiatric pill mill is the natural result of a Drug War in a capitalist society. For, from a strictly capitalist perspective, there is no money in curing "mental illness." The money lies in establishing a therapy that will go on for ever, till death do we patients part. And what better way to accomplish that goal than to outlaw Mother Nature's far less addictive meds and then hook patients on synthetic drugs that simply cannot be stopped (and which, according to Robert Whitaker, actually cause and reinforce the very chemical imbalances that they claim to "fix")?

The answer to this unjust set-up may not come in my lifetime, unfortunately, but I believe that I know what the answer would look like, at least in broad strokes: The answer is for America to end the Drug War and for the psychiatric profession to morph into a kind of "pharmacologically savvy shamanism," an holistic approach to mental health that combines the best of western, eastern and mesoAmerican therapies, using ANY PLANT IN THE WORLD that is found to help a person think and act productively in their life. Such a therapy would get rid of the idea of "mental patient" altogether, since anyone could visit such a shaman: from the severely depressed to a relatively happy soul who simply wants to get beyond the mental blocks that stand in the way of his or her self-actualization in life.

The answer, to repeat, is to exchange psychiatry for PSS: "pharmacologically savvy shamanism," a new non-addictive paradigm in which deeply caring medical professionals could guide their "clients" to self-knowledge through the historically informed use of natural entheogenic substances, plant medicines that conduce to self-insight and compassionate love of one fellows. Imagine that: America could stop demonizing plant medicine and actually learn how to use it safely and wisely for the benefit of humankind, just like all societies were prepared to do until corrupt stateside politicians began demonizing substances in order to remove the minorities who used them from the voting rolls. Then Ancient Mariners like myself could finally renounce Big Pharma and the demoralizing label of "patient," sailing into their home port at long last as just another human being seeking to achieve self-fulfillment in life.

Next essay: Why the Drug War is far worse than a failure
Previous essay: America's Puritan Obsession with Sobriety

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MDMA for Psychotherapy
Replacing Psychiatry with Pharmacologically Savvy Shamanism
The Drug War and Electroshock Therapy
The Myth of the Addictive Personality
The Prozac Code
Time to Replace Psychiatrists with Shamans
Doctor Feel Bad
Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
This is your brain on Effexor
Depression is real, says the APA, and they should know: they cause it!
The Mental Health Survey that psychiatrists don't want you to take
The Depressing Truth About SSRIs
Don't Worry, Be Satisfied
America's Great Anti-Depressant Scam
The Origins of Modern Psychiatry

end America's disgraceful drug war: visit to learn more

No Drug War Keychains

The key to ending the Drug War is to spread the word about the fact that it is Anti-American, unscientific and anti-minority (for starters)

Monticello Betrayed Thomas Jefferson

By demonizing plant medicine, the Drug War overthrew the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America -- and brazenly confiscated the Founding Father's poppy plants in 1987, in a symbolic coup against Jeffersonian freedoms.

This is your Brain on Godsend Plant Medicine

Stop the Drug War from demonizing godsend plant medicines. Psychoactive plant medicines are godsends, not devil spawn.

The Drug War Censors Science

Scientists: It's time to wake up to the fact that you are censored by the drug war. Drive the point home with these bumper stickers.

old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

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.

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)

Selected Bibliography

  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at