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What Andrew Weil Got Wrong

a philosophical review of 'From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know about Mind-Altering Drugs'

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher




December 28, 2022

espite his admirable honesty about drugs, Andrew Weil, too, has succumbed to some Drug War propaganda himself, at least when it comes to opiates. He tells us that they should never be used for 'recreational' purposes, which to Weil apparently includes the use of the drug by artists to inspire creativity, tho' Andrew never tells us why such use is to be considered as 'recreational,' as opposed to, say, occupational. Is coffee used for 'recreational' purposes in the morning? Is it not rather used for the practical purpose of waking ourselves up?

He has apparently bought into the Drug Warrior lie that some demonized substances can have no good use, for anyone, anywhere, at any time, in any dose, for any reason -- except, in this case, for bona fide pain relief due to some physical injury or illness.

That is just plain wrong. Poets used to use opium in the 19th century in what author Richard Middleton called "a series of quarterly carouses," in order to improve their creativity and give themselves new ideas. In other words, they knew that there was the potential for addiction and they scheduled their use accordingly. That's what happens when folks are educated about drugs rather than made to fear them.

And yet Andrew would agree with the Drug Warriors that even such wise use is to be forbidden -- or at least to be emphatically discouraged. If he had had his way in the 19th and early 20th century, we would have a far less inspiring oeuvre of horror stories by Poe and Lovecraft, who devised entire literary landscapes out of their opium-inspired dreams.

Much of his worry is over addiction -- and yet Andrew Weil says nothing about the Psychiatric Pill Mill to which 1 in 4 American women are addicted for life.

The question that he fails to answer is: why is opiate addiction so much worse than a Big Pharma addiction, especially when we're talking about the time-honored smoking of opium? Once you factor out the problems that are caused by the Drug War itself, we see that the difference between our reactions to addiction is an esthetic one: We are not upset when an SSRI patient suddenly goes off their meds because their suffering will be internal and take place in their home, where they will merely wish that they were dead. We can go about our business as usual. The heroin addict, however, is more likely to show up on the street and rob banks and so forth because his unnecessarily expensive medicine is not regularly available. This impacts us personally and so we consider heroin addiction to be a huge problem.

When it comes to Big Pharma drugs, however, we are not troubled at all. To the contrary, if these people are off their meds, we simply tell them to get back on them. Sure, the SSRI user has been turned into a ward of the healthcare state by the psychiatric pill mill, but that's their problem. This is an odd reaction, by the way, given that Weil's main charge against heroin is that it leaves one in a constant state of dependence. At least the heroin addict is not forced to share his innermost thoughts every three months with a psychiatric intern who is 1/2 or even 1/3 his own age.

Thus Weil inexplicably ignores the great pharmacological dystopia of our time. But he did say at least one thing about antidepressants that really struck home for me:

"Some commentators complain that widespread prescription of SSRIs has made many Americans less interesting and less creative."

I hate to say this, but that is so true in my experience -- and that's a down side that no one has ever ascribed to opiates. Meanwhile, the researchers who blissfully ignore the endless downsides of SSRIs and SNRIs are training their microscopes on MDMA even as we speak in an effort to find even the tiniest possible danger in that drug, so that they can dramatically cry: "See? MDMA has to be kept illegal forever, for anyone, in any dose, at any time, ever!" Meanwhile, Big Pharma peddles drugs on prime-time television whose side effects include 'death' itself and no one bats an eyelash.

This is enormous hypocrisy to which Americans are blinded thanks to the Drug War ideology of substance demonization.

Yes, we should teach folks to avoid opiate addiction -- and we can do that. The poets cited by Middleton managed to pull that off. But we should not so obsess over downsides as to pretend that upsides do not even exist. To the contrary, in a sane world we would be studying how opium achieves its amazing effect of giving us metaphorical dreams in which we can mentally separate ourselves from our pains and problems. We should be studying how the brain works in conjunction with opium to render such insightful reveries. But instead, Weil agrees with the Drug Warrior that we should deny, a priori, the psychological benefits of opium in preference for demonizing that drug.

Finally, Weil seems unaware of the fact that the Chinese were responsibly using opium as a culturally sanctioned practice centuries before the British started selling it to them. The downsides of opium use only came on the Western radar when the British Anti-Opium League came along in the 19th century and did for opium what the American Anti-Saloon League would eventually do for liquor, namely, painted its use in the darkest moralistic colors imaginable.

Oh, sorry, there is one more thing that Andrew Weil got wrong in his book. He keeps implying that heroin users have an underlying problem that needs to be addressed. But this is just a drug-war canard. Sure, we all have problems, but why do we pathologize the desire to be perky and alive and vibrant and bursting with energy? Surely, that's an understandable desire, the desire to feel euphoric and "good to go." That desire is not something that we have to refer to some Freudian trauma or other. If anyone has an underlying problem, it's those of us who (like myself) naively put their emotional lives in the hands of a psychiatric establishment that is going to addict them for life to ineffective meds that not only fail to make them euphoric, but which actually rob them of their creativity as well! When are the Gabriel Mate's of the world going to look into the underlying pathologies that turned folks like myself into custom-made patsies for the psychiatric pill mill?

But Weil is only human. We've all been told that the political category of "drugs" is junk for the last 100+ years and both academics and screenwriters have written accordingly. That's why I'm constantly reading on this topic, to uncover the false beliefs that I myself hold as a result of my life long indoctrination with Drug War ideology. So far in my reading, Weil seems to be one of the least brainwashed authors on Planet Earth, but even he could benefit from living by the following maxim which I have created for my own use: question everything you have ever been told or thought about so-called "drugs"? And after you've done so, question yourself again. For to paraphrase a line from William Shirer's classic book on Hitler: "No one who has not lived for years in a DRUG WAR SOCIETY can possibly conceive how difficult it is to escape the dread consequences of a regime's calculated and incessant propaganda."

From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know about Mind-Altering Drug

Author's Follow-up: August 26, 2023

The term "recreational" is very problematic when it comes to psychoactive drug use, since recreation itself can be therapeutic. The term seems to be a puritanical put-down of certain kinds of use, as who should say, "Use opiates for pain, but for God's sake, don't enjoy it!"

Author's Follow-up: September 7, 2023

This sounds like humor, but this is in fact the ideology that the DEA follows: folks are to use opiates for pain and if they enjoy that, then the prescribing doctor must be penalized. This is puritanism run amok. If you want to know if a newly discovered drug is going to be "scheduled," just ask yourself, does it bring about unseemly laughter or mirth? Then the answer will be yes. This is not science, of course, but Christian Science.




Next essay: Modern Addiction Treatment as Puritan Indoctrination
Previous essay: How the Drug War Turns the Withdrawal Process into a Morality Tale

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Some Tweets against the hateful war on drugs

Until prohibition ends, rehab is all about enforcing a Christian Science attitude toward psychoactive medicines (with the occasional hypocritical exception of Big Pharma meds).
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.
The goal of drug-law reform should be to outlaw prohibition. Anything short of that, and our basic rights will always be subject to veto by fearmongers. Outlawing prohibition would restore the Natural Law of Jefferson, which the DEA scorned in 1987 with its raid on Monticello.
The drug war tells us that certain drugs have no potential uses and then turns that into a self-fulfilling prophecy by outlawing these drugs. This is insanely anti-scientific and anti-progress. We should never give up on looking for positive uses for ANY substance.
The Drug War is one big entrapment scheme for poor minorities. Prohibition creates an economy that hugely incentivizes drug dealing, and when the poor fall for the bait, the prohibitionists rush in to arrest them and remove them from the voting rolls.
The drug war has created a whole film genre with the same tired plots: drug-dealing scumbags and their dupes being put in their place by the white Anglo-Saxon establishment, which has nothing but contempt for altered states.
"When two men who have been in an aggressive mood toward each other take part in the ritual, one is able to say to the other, 'Come, let us drink, for there is something between us.' " re: the Mayan use of the balche drink in Encyc of Psych Plants, by Ratsch & Hofmann
I'm told that science is completely unbiased today. I guess I'll have to go back and reassess my doubts about Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy.
SSRIs are created based on the materialist notion that cures should be found under a microscope. That's why science is so slow in acknowledging the benefit of plant medicines. Anyone who chooses SSRIs over drugs like San Pedro cactus is simply uninformed.
ECT is like euthanasia. Neither make sense in the age of prohibition.
More Tweets


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front cover of Drug War Comic Book

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You have been reading an article entitled, What Andrew Weil Got Wrong: a philosophical review of 'From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know about Mind-Altering Drugs', published on December 28, 2022 on AbolishTheDEA.com. 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 abolishTheDEA.com. (philosopher's bio; go to top of this page)