Modern Addiction Treatment as Puritan Indoctrination
n the 2019 movie "Four Good Days," (a classic piece of moralistic Drug War agitprop) the heroin-addicted daughter of an uptight and wine-swilling housewife (played by Glenn Close, shame on her) is sent to a $3,000-a-week rehab unit, where, after three days of cold turkey, a pompous and self-satisfied doctor administers a shot of Naltrexone and sends her on her not-so-merry way. That's it. Out of all the medications in the world the doctor could provide (including the hundreds of insight-provoking drugs discovered by Alexander Shulgin), the doctor only has one option: a drug that is specifically designed to give the user as little pleasure as possible and to make it chemically impossible for her to enjoy opiates of any kind in the future.
This is what passes for addiction treatment in modern America: we willfully ignore the very reason that the subject was "getting high" in the first place: namely to obtain self-transcendence and peace of mind.
There are hundreds of medicines that could improve an addict's (habitue's) mood and help them get on with life; even potentially addictive drugs could be used safely for this purpose if scheduled appropriately (on a calendar I mean, not on the DEA's mendacious scheduling system). And yet the Puritan medical industry has only one over-riding goal when it comes to addiction treatment: to make sure that the user's original desire for self-transcendence is never satisfied.
Andrew Weil got it half right: he said that drugs like methadone do not treat the real issue. But the real issue is not some Freudian crisis that the user has suppressed with drugs, the real issue is not chemical imbalance -- the real issue is that the user sought a good snappy feeling which helped her "get her head together." There is nothing pathological about that. We all want that, presumably. Sure, she chose an unreliable way to cater to that desire, if only because she lives in the age of a Drug War that is designed to make her fail in her quest for pharmacologically aided peace of mind, but that does not mean that the desire for mental clarity and euphoria is pathological in itself or the sign of some underlying pathology.
Modern addiction treatment is part of America's imperialist project to demonize and eradicate medicines that have been politically deemed to be without any beneficial uses according to Puritan Western politicians (as if any substance can have no good uses whatsoever, in any dose, at any time, for any person, ever). In foreign policy, we stalk abroad to wipe out poppy fields against the desires of the locals; in domestic policy, the government creates drugs that are designed to make self-transcendence biochemically impossible.
This is not science: this is Christian Science, the religion that tells us that "drugs" are bad and that we should get joy and self-transcendence from a lifetime of effort. The stingy and stinting modern addiction "treatment" represents the puritan punishment of those who seek relief through something other than hard work and booze. The goal of the Drug War is to get us to live by America's hypocritical Puritan values. It is indoctrination in a certain kind of lifestyle, namely the lifestyle of the Christian Scientist. Addiction treatment under this system is not motivated by science but rather by the government's desire to turn Americans into God-fearing puritans -- citizens who have been infantilized by drug law, told that they are powerless before "drugs" and that they must acknowledge a "higher power" in order to be cured.
This is puritan indoctrination, not addiction treatment.
Author's Follow-up: December 29, 2022
Had the US Government been installed in the Indus Valley in 1500 BCE, there would be no Vedic-Hindu religion today. America would have outlawed soma, the natural medicine that inspired the religion. Defiant soma users would then have been forced to switch to a government-supplied replacement for soma: but that replacement would be tweaked so that it would provide no inspiration at all.
Buy the Drug War Comic Book by Brian Quass, featuring 150 hilarious op-ed pics about America's disgraceful war on Americans
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.
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.
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.
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."
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
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.
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.
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."
In his book "Salvia Divinorum: The Sage of the Seers," Ross Heaven explains how "salvinorin A" is the strongest hallucinogen in the world and could treat Alzheimer's, AIDS, and various addictions. But America would prefer to demonize and outlaw the drug.
But materialist puritans do not want to create any drug that elates. So they go on a fool's errand to find reductionist cures for "depression itself," as if the vast array of human sadness could (or should) be treated with a one-size-fits-all readjustment of brain chemicals.
There are endless drugs that could help with depression. Any drug that inspires and elates is an antidepressant, partly by the effect itself and partly by the mood-elevation caused by anticipation of use (facts which are far too obvious for drug warriors to understand).
Rather than protesting prohibition as a crackdown on academic freedom, today's scientists are collaborating with the drug war by promoting shock therapy and SSRIs, thereby profiting from the monopoly that the drug war gives them in selling mind and mood medicine.
Here's one problem that supporters of the psychiatric pill mill never address: the fact that Big Pharma antidepressants demoralize users by turning them into patients for life.
America's "health" system was always screaming at me about the threat of addiction from drugs. Then what did it do? It put me on the most dependence-causing meds of all time: SSRIs and SNRIs.
Antidepressants in the time of the drug war are like cars in a time when combustion engines are outlawed. Such "cars" may bounce you from point A to point B somehow, but we wouldn't be taking them seriously except for the prohibition on combustion engines. Re-legalize NATURE!
PSYCHIATRY AND THE DRUG WAR
Imagine the Vedic people shortly after they have discovered soma. Everyone's ecstatic -- except for one oddball. "I'm not sure about these experiences," says he. "I think we need to start dissecting the brains of our departed adherents to see what's REALLY going on in there."
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.
"I can take this drug that inspires me and makes me compassionate and teaches me to love nature in its byzantine complexity, or I can take Prozac which makes me unable to cry at my parents' funeral. Hmm. Which shall it be?" Only a mad person in a mad world would choose SSRIs.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
THE DRUG WAR AND RELIGION
Unfortunately, the prohibitionist motto is: "Billions for arrest, not one cent for education." To the contrary, drug warriors are ideologically committed to withholding the truth about drugs from users.
This is a "prima facie" truth, based on the already established power of drug-aided sleep cures combined with the drug-aided ministrations of a pharmacologically savvy empath, especially in a world in which we spend billions on achieving this goal, rather than on arresting users.
The Drug War is a religion. The "addict" is a sinner who has to come home to the true faith of Christian Science. In reality, neither physical nor psychological addiction need be a problem if all drugs were legal and we used them creatively to counter problematic use.
Today's war against drug users is like Elizabeth I's war against Catholics. Both are religious crackdowns. For today's oppressors, the true faith (i.e., the moral way to live) is according to the drug-hating religion of Christian Science.
The Holy Trinity of the Drug War religion is Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and John Belushi. "They died so that you might fear psychoactive substances with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."
The DEA conceives of "drugs" as only justifiable in some time-honored ritual format, but since when are bureaucrats experts on religion? I believe, with the Vedic people and William James, in the importance of altered states. To outlaw such states is to outlaw my religion.
"My faith votes and strives to outlaw religions that use substances of which politicians disapprove."
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You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at abolishthedea.com. 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. (For proof of that latter charge, check out how the US and UK have criminalized the substances that William James himself told us to study in order to understand reality.) It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions (like the Vedic), Nazifies the English language (referring to folks who emulate drug-loving Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin as "scumbags") and militarizes police forces nationwide (resulting in gestapo SWAT teams breaking into houses of peaceable Americans and shouting "GO GO GO!").
(Speaking of Nazification, L.A. Police Chief Daryl Gates thought that drug users should be shot. What a softie! The real hardliners are the William Bennetts of the world who want drug users to be beheaded instead. That will teach them to use time-honored plant medicine of which politicians disapprove! Mary Baker Eddy must be ecstatic in her drug-free heaven, as she looks down and sees this modern inquisition on behalf of the drug-hating principles that she herself maintained. I bet she never dared hope that her religion would become the viciously enforced religion of America, let alone of the entire freakin' world!)
In short, the drug war 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.
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. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.
PPS Drugs like opium and psychedelics should come with the following warning: "Outlawing of this product may result in inner-city gunfire, civil wars overseas, and rigged elections in which drug warriors win office by throwing minorities in jail."
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)
Andrew, Christopher "The Secret World: A History of Intelligence" 2019 Yale University Press
Aurelius, Marcus "Meditations" 2021 East India Publishing Company
Bache, Christopher "LSD and the Mind of the Universe: Diamonds from Heaven" 2019 Park Street Press