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How the Drug War Turns the Withdrawal Process into a Morality Tale

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

December 28, 2022

have been on Effexor for 30 years now and am as depressed as ever -- indeed, if truth be told, I'm more depressed than ever. Thanks for nothing, Big Pharma. Over the last five years, I've learned about the benefits of psychedelics to help my depression, and I was excited about the possibility of using them to help me get off of SNRIs. I contacted the Heffter Group about this possibility and was told that I would have to "get off" SNRIs before participating in any studies. It turns out my SNRI mucks about with my serotonin levels such that psychedelic use may have little effect for me. Thanks again, Big Pharma.

I then looked into getting off of my SNRI, but was astounded to find that almost no doctors (at least no doctor on record) would do this for me in a practical way, that is by upping the dose of an alternative medicine (say Xanax, Adderall or Ritalin) while decreasing the dose of my SNRI. Instead, the doctors all wanted me to spend a year or more going through a presumably excruciating period of "tapering," and only after I was completely "off" the SNRI would I then begin receiving alternative medicine.

This is madness. It puts the convenience of the doctor light-years ahead of the needs of the client. If I were going to a "drug dealer" for my medications, he or she would never insist on such a strategy.

I looked up one site on this subject, and the webmaster piously writes: "You won't like to hear this, but you will have to taper, taper, taper" with the obvious implication being that you could receive no other medication at the time as a replacement. The goal is a hypocritically defined sobriety, rather than the client's self-actualization, as he or she defines that term.

No doubt there are benefits for this tapering approach: it's slightly less dangerous and the doctor can more clearly determine which drugs are causing which symptoms. But these considerations pale in comparison to the downsides that the patients must suffer thanks to such an approach. They have to put their emotionally balanced lives on hold, which most can literally not afford to do. What's more, NMIH studies show the recidivism rate for SNRIs to be so high that it is folly to think of quitting them without simultaneously replacing them with another pharmacologically assisted approach.

This mindset of piously telling the client to "taper" is so anti-patient that it can only be successfully explained with reference to the Christian Science ideology of the Drug War, which puts a higher premium on sobriety in the abstract than on the attainment of self-actualization, as the client defines that term.

This is why doctor hopping is a moral duty in the age of the Drug War, because someone like myself, who does not believe that drugs are bad in and of themselves, must search for a doctor who shares my viewpoint, as opposed to the many doctors who have unconsciously adopted the Christian Science mindset of the Drug War in dealing with patients like myself. They're more than willing to sacrifice several years of my life to an unproductive time of emotionally wrenching "tapering," because they feel that's preferable to seamlessly moving me to yet another psychoactive "drug," even if the drug in question is legal. Why? Because they have internalized the Christian Science ideology of the Drug War, which tells them, "the less drugs, the better."

Yes, but better for whom? The doctor? Yes. The Christian Scientist? Yes. The patient? Not so much.

Author's Follow-up: October 22, 2023

Of course, there would be no issue if medicine were legal. Instead, we have the truly weird situation in which I can be arrested for trying to get my head straight. If this superstitious demonizing and scapegoating philosophy is ever given the boot that it deserves, future generations will be astonished when they look back at the cruel non-sequitur of the Drug War, which severely punishes those who seek to clear their minds and access the spiritual worlds that have been contacted time out of mind by tribal peoples. Apparently it was not enough that we wiped them out physically; now we have to demonize and wipe out the pro-nature mindset that they represented.

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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."
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.
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.
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.
Getting off antidepressants can make things worse for only one reason: because we have outlawed all the drugs that could help with the transition. Right now, getting off any drug basically means become a drug-free Christian Scientist. No wonder withdrawal is hard.
To put it another way: in a sane world, we would learn to strategically fight drugs with drugs.
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.

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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
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

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Modern Addiction Treatment as Puritan Indoctrination

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, How the Drug War Turns the Withdrawal Process into a Morality Tale published on December 28, 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)