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Stigmatize THIS

More Drug War Agitprop from the Atlantic

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

December 16, 2023

disgraceful article in the Atlantic tells us that it was a mistake to destigmatize drug use.

The first thing to notice about this claim is that it is absurdly general in nature. It was a mistake to destigmatize drug use? What drugs? Aspirin? Ben Gay? Beta Blockers?

Maybe they mean those antidepressants upon which 1 in 4 American women are dependent for life. We certainly aren't stigmatizing THAT drug use. To the contrary, doctors appear regularly on TV to remind us Americans to keep taking our pills.

No, the authors use the word "drugs" as defined long ago by Americans with a jaundiced view of mother nature and a complete lack of knowledge about substance use in human history. For them, "drugs" means "substances that can have no reasonable benefits for anyone, anywhere, at any time, in any place, ever."

In other words, the authors are talking about a non-entity1. There are no substances in the world that can provide no benefits under any dose, in any circumstance. The Drug War notion that such substances exist has massively censored science in America, to the point that shock therapy is still today's 'state of the art' treatment for deep depression. (See the recent series on what I call "Electroshock 2.0" by Laura Sanders in Science News.) After all, our Drug Warriors tell us that merely cheering up a patient is wrong, that it's better to fry the brains of the depressed than to let them use substances that make them want to continue living. What's more, there are many mood-enhancing non-addictive substances (like those synthesized by Alexander Shulgin) that would make shock therapy unnecessary, but any and all "feel good" drugs are demonized by Drug Warriors - that is to say, they are classified as "drugs," which are evil by definition - and this political use of words has criminalized all hope for the depressed and forced the most hopeless to commit suicide or to have their brain fried according to the latest advice of scientists, all of whom are in thrall to the Drug War ideology of substance demonization -- at least if they know what's good for them, vocationally speaking.

But perhaps the best way to refute this absurdly generalist claim, that we should stigmatize drug use, is by catechizing the authors with some inconvenient questions:

More to the point:

The authors will certainly say no to this latter question, thus revealing their corrupt biases and motivations.

They do not, after all, have a problem with people using drugs. No, such critics simply want to see people using the RIGHT drugs, i.e., those that increase value for Big Pharma shareholders.

Their supposed hatred of drugs, then, is really a hatred for the people that they assume are using them: the poor and minorities. This use, the prohibitionist fears, threatens the pharmacological virginity of their kids, little Jack and Jill Whitebread. (They're not worried about the victims of the inner-city shootings of minorities which their policy of prohibition inevitably brings about5.)

But the arguments in favor of prohibition are tautological.

Prohibition massively incentivizes drug dealing in all poor communities around the western world. Then the Drug Warrior who wrote those laws will point to the use of drugs among "the undesirable element" and claim that this is proof that prohibition is necessary. This is the blame-the-victim approach used by Francis Fukuyama in "Liberalism and Its Discontents." Moreover, the prohibitionist screams about the lack of safe-use practices and yet refuses on principle to teach users how to use safely.

The fact is that prohibition itself - along with the constant din of drug publicity provided by groups like the DEA and DARE - causes the very situations about which the prohibitionists are now complaining (See Synthetic Panics, by Philip Jenkins6).

In a world in which fearmongering was outlawed and drugs were not thus madly publicized by Chicken Little puritans, we would be able to use ANY SUBSTANCE IN THE WORLD to improve our mental powers and mood. In such a world, we would quietly - without a puritan fanfare in Congress - develop ways to treat or even prevent addictions and to help folks find those drugs that they can use to maximum advantage given their own life goals (as opposed to the goals of a Christian Science rehab center)7.

But these anti-American critics think the best way to deal with "drugs" is to outlaw academic freedom and bar folks from using the plant medicines that grow at their very feet (and make no mistake: academia is censored today, which is clear from the almost total absence of academic articles that sing the praises of the drugs that politicians hate, whether in the professional or popular literature).

Their goal is nothing less than the militarization of police forces around the world and the outlawing of all new religions, to ensure that gun-toting Christian capitalism can continue without being threatened by new ideas and that all social problems can be ignored, or rather redefined in terms of drugs. For although prohibitionists are skinflints when it comes to social problems, they simply cannot spend lavishly enough on building prisons and supplying riot gear for local law enforcement, both domestically and overseas.

These guys do not want to stigmatize people who visit your local pub. They want to stigmatize depressed people like myself who believe that the use of drugs like coca and opium is preferable to damaging my brain with electricity and/or lobotomy. (How unscientific of me, right?)

Such prohibitionists have outlawed my religion, which tells me to seek the ineffable and to improve my mind to the extent possible. They have forced me to live my entire life now without godsend inspirational medicines, many of which grow at my feet.

But they're still not happy. They now want to stigmatize those who believe that the government should not be in control of our minds and moods.

If anyone needs to be stigmatized, it is the prohibitionist whose anti-democratic policies have caused hundreds of thousands of deaths over the decades, for which the Chicken Little puritan never has the honesty to take credit. We can thank them as well for the election of Donald Trump, who could never have taken office had racist drug law not filled America's prisons with minorities, which is to say with the inmates from the traditional demographic of his political opponents.

As of 2020, the US-inspired Mexican Drug War had led to the disappearance of 60,000 people, with 31,000 murdered in 2019.8. But I don't see any prohibitionists trumpeting this inconvenient truth: "See, look what WE'VE done!" The situation is now so bad that we're unlikely to hear much about it - for the simple reason that journalists are quite frightened about covering the story. As Dawn Paley writes in "Drug War Capitalism,"

"The Drug War creates a context where members of resistance movements and journalists can be assassinated or disappeared under the pretext that they were involved in the drug trade."9

But how do you argue with people who are blind to all these seemingly endless downsides to their hate-inciting agitprop? How do you argue with folks who feel that its well worth hundreds of thousands of deaths in order to stop people from using time-honored medicines, many of which have inspired entire religions?

Author's Follow-up: December 16, 2023

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

As if we haven't been stigmatizing drug users enough. We stigmatize them so harshly already that it's impossible to get a job in America if you use drugs that have inspired entire religions. How's that for stigma? I'm not sure how you "crank that up," except maybe to stigmatize users a la Duterte and simply shoot them outright, as recommended by LA Police Chief Daryl Gates.

Of course, the prohibitionists will ignore the minority and overseas deaths and point instead to drug users on the streets -- failing as always to realize that it is prohibition which leaves the user nowhere else to go. This is the insidious MO of the prohibitionist: they point to all the downsides of prohibition as a reason why prohibition must continue. They don't give a rat's proverbial about a hundred thousand minority deaths -- but if young Johnny Whitebread is even in the vicinity of a hated substance, they will move heaven and earth to make said substance unavailable to anyone, anywhere, for any reason, ever.

The Drug War is thus the triumph of militaristic and racist idiocy.

Author's Follow-up: January 12, 2024

picture of clock metaphorically suggesting a follow-up

Guess I should not be surprised, since I've read that Kevin Sabet is the editorial staff's go-to guy at the Atlantic when it comes to ideas for "fighting drugs" -- as if Americans should be fighting to turn America into a Christian Science theocracy. I've heard him proclaimed as the new voice of the drug debate -- which is odd, since he's just a slightly kinder and slightly gentler version of William Bennett, the old chimney pot who wants to behead drug users. In fact, William's biggest beef is with users who are problem free. He wants their names posted in the paper. He's not yet called for them to be "rounded up" but give this kind of thinking another 20 years, and who knows.

It wasn't enough for America to kill off the tribal peoples -- now they want to kill off their positive attitudes about nature and drugs, for as the original ethnobotanist, Richard Schultes tells us, all tribal people have used psychoactive drugs for the benefit of their people. You remember the tribal people, right?... or at least the survivors, the ones that we ruined by pushing liquor on them, meanwhile telling them to say no to Mother Nature on pain of incarceration -- not to mention stigmatization by magazines that should know better.


1 Quass, Brian, There is no such thing as DRUGS, 2020 (up)
2 Quass, Brian, William James rolls over in his grave as England bans Laughing Gas, 2023 (up)
3 Quass, Brian, Suicide and the Drug War, 2022 (up)
4 Quass, Brian, America's Great Anti-Depressant Scam, 2020 (up)
5 Quass, Brian, The Invisible Mass Shootings, 2022 (up)
6 Jenkins, Philip, Synthetic Panics: The Symbolic Politics of Designer Drugs, New York University Press, New York, 1999 (up)
7 Quass, Brian, Addicted to Ignorance, 2020 (up)
8 Mexico's war on drugs: More than 60,000 people 'disappeared', (up)
9 Paley, Dawn, Drug War Capitalism, AK Press, Chico, California, 2014 (up)

Next essay: Matthew Perry and the Drug War Ghouls
Previous essay: Drug War Agitprop

More Essays Here


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!
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
That's my real problem with SSRIs: If daily drug use and dependency are okay, then there's no logical or truly scientific reason why I can't smoke a nightly opium pipe.
I never said that getting off SSRIs should be done without supervision. If you're on Twitter for medical advice, you're in the wrong place.
I would want to be supervised myself -- but by someone who is free to use any other drugs in the world to help me get off drugs that have failed to work adequately but which have caused great dependence.
Psychiatrists keep flipping the script. When it became clear that SSRIs caused dependence, instead of apologizing, they told us we need to keep taking our meds. Now they even claim that criticizing SSRIs is wrong. This is anti-intellectual madness.
For those who have misunderstood me: I have no complaints about prescribing SSRIs for those already on them, if that's what the user (like myself) wants. The psychiatrists I strongly disagree with are those who claim that SSRIs are valuable in and of themselves.

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You have been reading an article entitled, Stigmatize THIS: More Drug War Agitprop from the Atlantic, published on December 16, 2023 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)