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The Therapeutic Value of Anticipation

towards a realistic psychology of substance use

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher

January 24, 2020

he use of the term "recreational" to describe substance use is misleading. Those who use the term are ignoring the fact that enjoyable or interesting drug-induced experiences often provide a psychological respite from the dullness and difficulties of so-called sober life. And thus, although a drug experience may be defined as "recreational," that does not imply that the substance use was ONLY recreational (which is generally the way in which Drug Warriors intend the term).

To the contrary, such use is often psychologically therapeutic, and in two ways, the second of which psychology has yet to recognize: 1) It is therapeutic thanks to the relaxation and/or diversion that the actual drug experience affords, and, 2) It is therapeutic thanks to the relaxation induced by the MERE ANTICIPATION of the upcoming relaxation. DeQuincey wrote of this latter benefit of drug use when he praised the therapeutic value of anticipation in connection with his use of opium (this was before he began his ill-advised daily use of opium for the relief of physical pain, after which he necessarily lost the anticipatory benefits of his substance use).

Not only were the author's weekend experiences at the opera enhanced by opium, but his "sober" weekdays were rendered more bearable as well, not directly by the drug, but thanks to the author's sure and certain knowledge of the upcoming intellectual ecstasies that were awaiting him. It is this "something to look forward to" of which modern psychiatry stubbornly refuses to take cognizance in estimating the value of occasional substance use, preferring instead to categorically demonize substances such as opium and cocaine as having no therapeutic value whatsoever, in slavish deference to the politically inspired laws against such drugs. Such substances are then held to health and safety standards that no one would ever think of applying to alcohol and tobacco, let alone to the Big Pharma antidepressants to which 1 in 4 women are addicted, in a scandal that has yet to make the hypocritical and purblind Drug Warriors lose a minute of sleep.

(One can only conclude that addiction is not the real bugaboo for the anti-drug fanatics, that what really alarms them is the marketing of substances for which big business is not getting its fair share of the profits.)

Thus, the bi-monthly use, say, of psychedelics cannot be dismissed as "recreational" merely because the user has assigned no nobler purpose to the use, for the anticipatory aspect of any positive experience -- drug-induced or otherwise -- can itself conduce to relaxation and a happier life. Thus such use can be psychologically therapeutic even if the user fails to explicitly note that fact.

May 23, 2022 I look forward to the day when psychologically savvy empaths will understand the importance of anticipation. Then I will be the first to join those weekly groups wherein we use a variety of currently demonized medicines to reach self-transcendence while yet avoiding the addictive drugs of Big Pharma. "What's on the menu for this week, doc?" Answer: "This week, Brian, we will all ingest psilocybin mushrooms and then listen to great music. Next week, we'll use morphine to give us supernatural appreciation of mother nature. The week following we'll smoke a little opium and share our wondrous visions. The week following, we'll use coca wine while we're braining storming ideas about how to make our lives better."

Author's Follow-up: April 30, 2023

Some folks who read the above "editor's note" will charge me with thinking of "drugs" as a panacea. But it's natural that a heretical thinker like myself should sound fantastically cheery about drugs in a world in which the party line is to be fantastically dismissive of them. Sure, there are no doubt limits to what "drugs" can accomplish. Moreover, psychoactive drugs do not work like reductionist meds (a fault for which materialists will never forgive them). They are not "one size fits all." Rather, the user will generally benefit from them only to the extent that they have the correct mindset. A drug, for instance, will be less likely to help you appreciate nature if you are not already disposed to do so and desirous of that denouement.

Some Twitter trolls love to shoot down supposedly starry-eyed folks like myself, claiming that there's no "there" there when it comes to substance use, or that the potential benefits are oversold. I answer: how can we say that, when no one has ever combined complete substance freedom and modern mobility with a shamanically motivated and pharmacologically informed look into the topic? In other words, when it comes to "drugs," no one has ever combined "western" dogma-free curiosity with the "eastern" goals of the shaman. For my part, I can imagine an endless list of therapies employing an endless variety of psychoactive meds (many of which we are still unaware in our self-imposed insularity on this topic), both natural and inspired by nature, all of which protocols have never even been imagined before, let alone investigated. The possibilities seem limited by one's imagination alone. Unfortunately, to date, the mainstream has no imagination at all on this topic, having been successfully taught to be terrified of "drugs" in the abstract. But even the opponents of the Drug War fail to envision such possibilities, having themselves been convinced that drug legalization is all about harm reduction and has nothing to do with benefit maximization. They have swallowed the Drug War lie that legalization is all about accommodating and/or protecting white well-to-do hedonists from themselves.

The Links Police

Do you know why I pulled you over? That's right, you were about to leave this page without seeing the following related essays on the topic of "anticipation and the Drug War."

Critique of the Philosophy of Happiness
In Praise of Doctor Feelgood
The Politically Incorrect Cure for the Common Cold
Using Opium to Fight Depression
The Therapeutic Value of Anticipation

Next essay: Is Rick Doblin Running with the Devil?
Previous essay: John Locke on Drugs

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The Naive Psychology of the Drug War
Psychedelics and Depression
Drug Use as Self-Medication
Suicide and the Drug War
The Handicapped NEED Crutches
Obama's Unscientific BRAIN Initiative
Assisted Suicide and the War on Drugs
Lord Save us from 'Real' Cures
Disease Mongering in the age of the drug war
Why America is Hung Up on Drugs
How the Drug War turned me into an eternal patient
It's the Psychedelics, Stupid!
Illegal Drugs and the Imp of the Perverse

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You have been reading an article entitled, The Therapeutic Value of Anticipation: towards a realistic psychology of substance use, published on January 24, 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)