Essay date: December 29, 2022

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 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.

Next essay: What Terence McKenna Got Wrong About Drugs
Previous essay: What Andrew Weil Got Wrong

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

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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