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Our Short-Sighted Fears about Long-Term Drug Use

exposing the Christian Science defeatism of the war on drugs

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

May 14, 2024

I just had my buttons pushed by a guy who worries that using drugs in psychiatry could lead to problems "in the longer term," (by which he apparently means drugs other than antidepressants, of which he himself appears to be critical). I wanted to address this fear in essay form because it seems to reflect the assumptions held uncritically by many otherwise sane-thinking individuals. Their argument goes something like this: "Yes, some drugs might help (maybe, sort of...)... Oh, but what if someone gets addicted to them! Oh, no! We must stay the course and keep drugs illegal!"

My first response is: Why don't we worry about the problems that the Drug War is causing RIGHT NOW? Folks are receiving brain-damaging shock therapy because we refuse to treat them with substances that grow at their very feet. Folks are committing suicide because they have no access to drugs that could cheer them up and give them a new view of life. Anyone who knows something about entheogens knows this is true1 2 3. To say that we could never learn to use such drugs wisely is Christian Science defeatism disguised as a concern for public health.

My second response is: Why do you think that antidepressants have caused a problem "in the longer term"? Answer: Because antidepressants are the only game in town. Because the Drug War has outlawed all competition when it comes to mood-enhancing drugs. It's not drugs that are a problem here, it is the lack of drugs and thus the lack of choice.

My third response is: It is not the role of scientists to do a cost/benefit analysis about psychoactive drug use. While they may report some of the potential costs of using a given drug - indeed, that's all they're allowed to study in today's ideologically driven labs: namely, the downsides of drug use -- they know nothing of the psychological costs of going without the drug nor of the psychological and/or spiritual benefits that the user hoped to find in such drug use, nor of the user's life goals nor of how the user would personally define the term "a fulfilled life." In short, they know nothing of the hopes and dreams of the would-be user4. How then can they decide that a benefit is not worth a cost when they know nothing of the benefit in question nor of the costs of going WITHOUT that proposed medicine (such as the many opportunities missed thanks to one's gloomy introspection and apathy).

But Americans have been taught from grade school that safe use of drugs like cocaine is simply not possible. (Someone forgot to send that memo to UK talk-show host Graham Norton, BTW, one of the few celebrities who speaks honestly - or, indeed, at all -- about such topics.) To the extent that this is true, however, it is only true because of the Drug War, which does everything it can to make cocaine use a problem: by refusing to teach safe use (as in, cocaine is contraindicated for those with a heart condition), while corrupting supply and shooting and arresting anyone who so much as mentions the word "cocaine." (Bringing coca leaves to the US to make tea? Expect to be treated like a druggie scumbag if the DEA finds out.)

Getting back to that guy who pushed my buttons: when he says that drugs may cause problems in the long-term, he no doubt means that use may become habitual, that a user may end up taking the drug every day of their life.

Here are two quick responses to that latter concern.

If the drug works for him or her based on their goals in life, what's wrong with daily use? One in four American women take a Big Pharma med every day of their life5. Not only do doctors not consider this a problem, but they actually encourage their patients to "keep taking your meds."

If the user develops a habit that they wish to kick, they will have a host of drugs to swap for their pharmacological nemesis once substances are relegalized. It's called "fighting drugs with drugs.6" Unfortunately, such a protocol merely makes common psychological sense - and materialist science does not believe in common sense. That's why they can't even decide if laughing gas could help the depressed7. They're still waiting for microscopic proof of that assertion, since the mere laughter of real human beings tells them nothing.

Could drug use cause a problem in the long term? What couldn't? But as adults, we can profit from their use while making that use as safe as possible. It is only the Drug War doctrine of Christian Science defeatism that tells us otherwise.

Finally, a few of my tweets in response to the button-pusher mentioned above:

Psychiatry had no concern for the long term when they started folks on SSRIs which turned out to be dependence causing. But they use the fear of long term consequences to deny us access to the plants that grow at our feet.

Anything can cause problems in the long term. When we legalize all drugs, including entheogens, we can treat that problem. The Drug Warrior tells us the lie that we can never learn to use these hundreds of substances wisely.

This is why science should butt out when it comes to psychoactive drugs. Use of such substances only makes sense based on a cost/benefit analysis, and when it comes to one's hopes and dreams in life, the potential user is the expert, not the scientist.

I would have been far better off had psychiatry risked causing me problems in the longer term rather than giving me SSRIs.

Psychiatry has caused more problems in the longer term than any street drugs. The only reason opiates are a problem is because we outlawed opium: we refused to have people using opium peaceably at home. Now we complain that they're in the streets.

This is awkward because the button-pusher is replying but I'm still not sure to whom. Possibly to me? Anyway here's my response to his latest tweet about the difference between physiological and psychological addiction.

Moreover, any discussion on this topic has to take into account the societal effects of prohibition, not just look at a personal case. Detroit is in ruins because the Drug War brought guns and violence to the hood thru wild financial incentives8.

Moreover, any discussion on this topic has to take into account the societal effects of prohibition, not just look at a personal case. Detroit is in ruins because the Drug War brought guns and violence to the hood thru wild financial incentives.

Drug warriors have their way because they ignore all the stakeholders: the 100,000 disappeared in Mexico, the American cities in ruins, the patient who had shock therapy because we outlawed Mother Nature's entheogens.

So it's not enough to worry about the long-term for the patient. We have to worry about the long-term for democracy itself -- although I fear we may already be too late for that given the new trend toward fascism.


1 Fadiman, James, The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys , Park Street Press, New York, 2011 (up)
2 Wininger, Charles, Listening to Ecstasy, 2021 (up)
3 Grof, Stanislav, The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness, Sounds True, Boulder, Co., 1998 (up)
4 Of course a psychiatrist may know something of their client's hopes and dreams, but I am talking about psychiatrists in general here, especially when they claim to know what is best for ALL their clients, which is precisely what they do when they rule out the use of psychoactive drugs on a priori grounds. (up)
5 Miller, Richard Louis, Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle , Park Street Press, New York, 2017 (up)
6 Quass, Brian, Fighting Drugs with Drugs, 2024 (up)
7 Can Laughing Gas Help People with Treatment Resistant Depression?, Forbes Magazine, 2021 (up)
8 Hansen, Helena, Whiteout: How Racial Capitalism Changed the Color of Opioids in America, 2023 (up)

Next essay: I hope to use cocaine in 2025
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You have been reading an article entitled, Our Short-Sighted Fears about Long-Term Drug Use: exposing the Christian Science defeatism of the war on drugs, published on May 14, 2024 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)