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The Myth of the Addictive Personality

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

March 2, 2020

hen I was a teenager, I was always begging the field of psychiatry to do more. It seemed to me that there must be so many medicines out there, surely something would set my mind straight.

The result of my naivete? I was promptly pronounced "an addictive personality."

I've now had 40 years to think about that diagnosis and I call bull crap.

Imagine a field like psychiatry, that limits itself to prescribing a handful of addictive medicines, suspicious of anyone who dares hanker for more. That hankering is, in reality, utterly sensible.

Suppose you walk into a jewelry store and they have only one kind of diamond. You ask for other kinds of diamonds and they label you ungrateful and greedy. That's what psychiatry does when someone dares to allude to a larger pharmacopeia that psychiatry has dogmatically forsworn, whether in conformance with drug law, scientism, and/or the interests of the pharmaceutical companies that crank out the starkly limited formulary of politically acceptable mood medicines.

How dare I want to pick and choose from among the thousands of rain forest godsends. Why can't I just go along with the modest medicine cabinet of addictive substances that chemists have created to narrow down our choices to a nice politically acceptable roster?

Of course, the true irony of this state of affairs becomes plain when we consider that well over 1 in 8 Americans are addicted to modern-day antidepressants, one out of four when it comes to women, and that many of these drugs are harder to kick than heroin. So psychiatry may have a problem with SOMETHING, but it's clearly not with addiction. My own doctor told me not even to bother trying to "get off of" Effexor, given its 95% recidivism rate. And so I become an eternal patient, with all the demoralizing emotional baggage that comes with that condition. It's pretty much the exact opposite of empowering a patient, to make them a ward of the state, forever to be defined by their so-called illness.

The so-called addictive personality is actually "on to something." They realize that there's a vast pharmacopeia out there and they want psychiatry to use it. Psychiatry, for its part, must label such individuals as pathological, lest their craving for more should serve to illuminate the niggardliness of psychiatric offerings and demonstrate all too clearly that the entire field operates in crass subservience to anti-patient Drug War law and ideology.

The Links Police

Do you know why I stopped you? That's right, because the Drug War gives me the right to be a noxious busybody. That, and I also wanted to suggest a few related essays, namely: Why Louis Theroux is Clueless about Addiction and Alcoholism, Addicted to Addiction, Addicted to Ignorance, How the Drug War Killed Amy Winehouse and Open Letter to Addiction Specialist Gabriel Maté.

July 7, 2022

I think what Brian's saying here is that it's meaningless to talk about addictive personalities in a society in which we criminalize most psychoactive medicines and teach people to fear and loathe them rather than to understand them. In a society wherein all pharmacological dangers were clear and folks knew how to get the kind of transcendence they were looking for in the safest possible way, no one would knowingly opt for the deadliest possible medicine. The problem is that Drug Warriors completely ignore this motivation for substance use -- namely the search for some kind of self-transcendence in life: for religious purposes, for on-demand motivation, to find some new spiritual truth, or to just take a break from a negative inner voice that is keeping one from achieving one's goals in life and/or performing a particular activity without self-destructing.

The Drug War brings about addiction by limiting the would-be user's knowledge of and access to all but a handful of drugs that the dealer is incentivized to sell. But in a world where mind medicines were legal and available, those who seek pharmacologically aided transcendence could do so non-addictively, either by using non-addictive substances like shrooms and MDMA or else by creating a drug use schedule which strategically alters the substances taken on a weekly basis in such a way that addiction to any given substance will never occur.

There was a documentary about PJ Brewster a few years ago in which we learned that PJ's friends did just that. They used a variety of "hard" drugs -- including crack cocaine -- but never became addicted because they were careful to never use the same drug twice in a row. Of course, the guy who volunteered this information has learned Drug War etiquette so he immediately added a non-sequitur apology saying, "Of course that was wrong."

Really? Why is it wrong to use psychoactive substances in a non-addictive way? It's wrong because the know-nothing Drug Warriors do not want Americans to know that such a thing is even possible! But the fact is, it is possible and it is the wise thing to do. In fact, this is what we should be teaching folks who seek pharmacological transcendence: how to use drugs (aka godsend mind medicines) in such a way that they will not get hooked -- unless they want to, of course: Unless they hit on the perfect drug (out of a freely available pharmacopoeia of thousands of such legalized medicines) that they don't mind taking for life, in the same way that 1 in 4 depressed women take a Big Pharma drug for depression every day of THEIR life.

Worried about addiction? Once we legalize all mind medicine, a pharmacologically savvy shaman/empath could imagine thousands of ways to slowly move the user who is unhappy with one med to another less troublesome med. We call such changes impossible today for two reasons: first because we outlaw almost all the medicine in question here, and second because the Drug War's goal is to get the user "sober" according to America's hypocritical definition of that term, not to get them happy according to their own definition of that term, not to bring them self-transcendence. Once we jettison the drug-war's Christian Science requirement for drug-free sobriety, the world's our oyster in terms of pharmacological treatments for the unhappy, the unsuccessful -- or simply for those who want to see beyond the veil, beyond the practical but starkly limited perceptual world served up to us daily by our five meager senses.

Were drugs legal and understood -- rather than illegal and feared -- Amy Winehouse might still be alive today (see How the Drug War Killed Amy Winehouse), for instead of just "tut-tutting" at her drug use (or recommending Christian Science rehab and a grim future of teeth-clenching "sobriety"), her friends would have shown her safe ways to gain the transcendence that she was after, not by "saying no to drugs," but by saying yes to the right drugs, used in the right way.

Next essay: Drug Warriors Fiddle while Rome Gets Nuked
Previous essay: Glenn Close but no cigar

More Essays Here

Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

America is insane: it makes liquor officially legal and then outlaws all the drugs that could help prevent and cure alcoholism.
Drugs that sharpen the mind should be thoroughly investigated for their potential to help dementia victims. Instead, we prefer to demonize these drugs as useless. That's anti-scientific and anti-patient.
If drug war logic made sense, we would outlaw endless things in addition to drugs. Because the drug war says that it's all worth it if we can save just one life -- which is generally the life of a white suburban young person, btw.
LA Police Chief Daryl Gates said drug users should be summarily executed. William Bennett said drug dealers should be beheaded. These are the attitudes that the drug war inculcates. This racist and brutal ideology must be wiped out.
Most prohibitionists think that they merely have to use the word "drugs" to win an argument. Like: "Oh, so you're in favor of DRUGS then, are you?" You can just see them sneering as they type. That's because the word "drugs" is like the word "scab": it's a loaded political term.
If the depressed patient laughs, that means nothing. Materialists have to see results under a microscopic or they will never sign off on a therapy.
Science knows nothing of the human spirit and of the hopes and dreams of humankind. Science cannot tell us whether a given drug risk is worthwhile given the human need for creativity and passion in their life. Science has no expertise in making such philosophical judgements.
It's "convenient" for scientists that their "REAL" cures happen to be the ones that racist politicians will allow. Scientists thus normalize prohibition by pretending that outlawed substances have no therapeutic value. It's materialism collaborating with the drug war.
"Now, now, Sherlock, that coca preparation is not helping you a jot. Why can't you get 'high on sunshine,' like good old Watson here?" To which Sherlock replies: "But my good fellow, then I would no longer BE Sherlock Holmes."
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.
More Tweets

essays about

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
How the Drug War Turns the Withdrawal Process into a Morality Tale
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
Common Sense Drug Withdrawal
Fighting Drugs with Drugs

essays about

America's Puritan Obsession with Sobriety
America's biggest drug pusher: The American Psychiatric Association:
Christian Science Rehab
Depressed? Here's why.
Electroshock Therapy and the Drug War
How Psychiatry and the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient
In Praise of Doctor Feelgood
In praise of doctor hopping
MDMA for Psychotherapy
Replacing Psychiatry with Pharmacologically Savvy Shamanism
The Drug War and Electroshock Therapy
The Prozac Code
Time to Replace Psychiatrists with Shamans
Doctor Feel Bad
Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
This is your brain on Effexor
Depression is real, says the APA, and they should know: they cause it!
The Mental Health Survey that psychiatrists don't want you to take
The Depressing Truth About SSRIs
Don't Worry, Be Satisfied
America's Great Anti-Depressant Scam
The Origins of Modern Psychiatry
Modern Addiction Treatment as Puritan Indoctrination
Why Rick Doblin is Ghosting Me
Lord Save us from 'Real' Cures
Disease Mongering in the age of the drug war
The War on Drugs and the Psychiatric Pill Mill
What Jim Hogshire Got Wrong about Drugs
Tapering for Jesus
America's Anti-scientific Standards for Psychotherapeutic Medicine
How the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient
The Whistle Blower who NOBODY wants to hear
It's the Psychedelics, Stupid!
So, you're thinking about starting on an SSRI...

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Myth of the Addictive Personality published on March 2, 2020 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)