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What Goes Up Must Come Down?

So what? Drug use is about psychology, not physics.

by Ballard Quass, the Drug War Philosopher




March 17, 2024

very now and then I run across a frustratingly wrongheaded reply to one of my tweets, but one which sounds just plausible enough that I feel the instant need to rebut it lest its sophistry bamboozle others. Today's offending Tweet is the following by one Samuel W.:

Anything pleasurable you do in withdrawal, kratom, fast food, video games, drugs, slows your brains adaptation to the new baseline. Withdrawal is excruciatingly painful. But what goes up, must come down. Can come down slow, or fast, but the pleasure-pain balance is always equal.


How does Samuel know this, exactly? Does he live on some island where he is able to investigate all types of potential drug therapies freely, without government interference? I fear not. For Samuel subsumes thousands of psychoactive godsends under the pejorative and dismissive label of "drugs," which is, of course, a political term meaning "psychoactive substances for which there is no legitimate use anytime, anywhere, ever"1. For him, the use of "drugs" - which is really a catchall term for thousands of potential godsends, some of which have inspired entire religions - is just another frivolous pleasure, on a par with playing video games and eating a Big Mac. In short, he still seems to hold the drug-hating viewpoint that he was force-fed in grade school by such fearmongering political organizations as DARE and the Partnership for a Drug Free America2, the organization responsible for the most mendacious public service advertisement in human history, which convinced generations of Americans that drugs that focus and expand the brain are actually responsible for "frying" it instead. (I'm assuming here that Samuel is an American; he certainly sounds like one to me based on the scientific materialism3 inherent in his vague yet nonetheless cocksure pronouncements.)

Anything pleasurable I do in withdrawal slows my adaptation to the new baseline?


That's just moralistic speculation, or rather wishful thinking. The fact is, psychoactive drugs can speed my adaptation to a new biochemical baseline by making me feel better about the whole change process and giving me motivations to continue. This is psychological common sense (the idea of the virtuous circle and the motivating power of anticipation), albeit the kind of common sense that materialists completely ignore, as when Dr. Robert Glatter asks the ridiculously naïve question in Forbes magazine: can laughing gas help people with treatment-resistant depression?4 Besides, Samuel clearly assumes that the withdrawal process is all about turning "users" into drug-free Christian Scientists5, whereas my wish for users is that they are finally able to pursue their dreams and goals in life in a sustainable and productive manner. Their goals, not mine. In brief, Samuel W. will ensure that withdrawal is excruciatingly painful because he feels that it SHOULD be excruciatingly painful, morally speaking. If he has some better reason, he has yet to adduce it. All he has done so far is to assert several misapplied platitudes as if they were facts.

What goes up must come down?


Who does Samuel think he is, the Isaac Newton of subjective psychology? Human psychology is not subject to the laws of physics. If my mood rises because of psychoactive medicines and the psychological insights gained therefrom, there is no law of nature that insists I must pay a price for that improvement.

To the contrary, the use of psychoactive drugs can create a virtuous circle of happiness. To claim that such drug use is necessarily counterproductive is to profess a religious point of view, not a scientific one. Such a viewpoint presupposes the idea that "drugs" (as opposed to "meds") are somehow evil -- despite the fact, of course, that things cannot be evil, only people - a fact that the Catholic Church itself has recognized as true for over a millennia, but which our superstitious Drug Warriors have since come to doubt6.

The pleasure-pain balance is always equal?


What does that even mean? It sounds like another misguided attempt to draw an analogy between the laws of physics and the laws of psychology. Even if it's true in some metaphysical sense of those words, it has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. The simple fact is that feeling good HELPS and can create a "virtuous circle" in a user's life, even if such subjective feelings cannot be adequately measured and accounted for by myopic materialists. The editors of the Readers Digest have known this for over a century now: hence their time-honored motto: "Laughter is the best medicine..." which, by the way, is not followed by any dire parenthetical warning such as, "But you'll pay for it later!!!"

Withdrawal is excruciatingly painful?7


That is just plain wrong.

Sure, withdrawal CAN be excruciatingly painful, but as Jim Hogshire reports in "Opium for the Masses," the physical part of opiate addiction can be overcome painlessly through chemistry-aided sleep cures8. And the psychological aspect of addiction can be overcome by virtuous psychological circles created by the use of drugs that elate and inspire. Withdrawal can also be made less painful by the creation of a new set of motivations, as when Malcolm X got his followers off heroin, not by having them attend rehab groups in which they were told they were helpless against such an "evil" drug, but rather by convincing them that using heroin was "just what the white man WANTED them to do"9.

This is all common sense psychology, but unfortunately American materialists aren't good at common sense. That's why Psychology Today continually publishes articles in which they reckon without the Drug War, telling us that depression is difficult to beat while simultaneously ignoring the fact that we have outlawed almost all substances that could help with that condition10. We Americans thereby show (by deeds rather than words) that we would prefer that a young person commit suicide than to use politically demonized "drugs" such as coca or MDMA11. This is why I say that the Drug War has completely warped our priorities as Americans.

So whence comes this conviction that withdrawal must be excruciatingly painful? The idea flatters the puritan inside of us Americans by saying, in effect: "See? Folks who do not believe in Christian Science are destined for a very real hell!" But not so fast, Mary Baker Eddy12!

I could have gotten off of valium in a month - one month -- had I been given drugs like opium13, coca14, MDMA15 (etc. etc. etc.) to rationally use on a varying schedule and thereby keep my mind off of the psychological downsides of the change in question. Instead it took me TEN LONG YEARS of mental struggle to renounce that drug. TEN YEARS of wasted life. And why? Because without the distractions of other drugs, I was constantly focusing on the absence of Valium in my life, thinking, "Gee, if I only had a couple Valium tablets now, this nervous feeling would go away." A vast variety of drugs could have taken my mind off of that obsession and set me off in whole new directions of thought and feeling, with whole new ideas about what is possible in life.

Indeed, my one experience with psychedelic drugs when I was in my 20s inspired me with so many wholly new ideas that I actually began crying, in mourning for the time that I had wasted because of the chronic depression which I now saw had been thoroughly blinding me to whole new worlds of opportunity. I can only conclude that Samuel W. is either 1) unaware of the existence of such drugs and their power to change lives and/or 2) completely ignorant of the common sense philosophy of the virtuous circle, a circle that could be easily established by the strategic use of empathogens, drugs that Samuel as an apparent materialist would no doubt dismiss contemptuously as "feel-good drugs," a term that betrays the typically unacknowledged puritanism of those who employ it.

But give me full legal access to all the drugs in the world (and a pharmacologically savvy guide to help me choose among them) and I could get off Effexor itself without excruciating pain, a drug which my own psychiatrist once told me is harder to kick than heroin. Speaking of which, many Vietnam vets kicked heroin without incident before returning to the US16, a feat that would have been impossible (and even medically dangerous) had they been on SSRIs and SNRIs instead. This, of course, is not a subject about which the Drug Warrior will ever speak, since they want the "bugbear" of addiction to be associated with the substances that they have demonized as "drugs" and not with the dividend-paying "meds" of Big Pharma. The term "addiction," that is, is a political term as much as (and even more than) a scientific one. (Here's where the desperate Drug Warrior will try to make a pedantic distinction between addiction and dependence, which, however, turns out to be a distinction without a difference, in light of the self-interested way in which human beings define the word "problematic."17)

The fact is that Drug Warriors WANT addiction to be as painful as possible, so that they can convince Americans of their need to give up their basic liberties in order to combat it. Addiction is thus the golden goose which lays the draconian drug laws, laws that prohibitionists are using to turn the world into the militarized and illiberal dystopia that they seek. Drug warriors NEED addiction to be a bugbear in order to justify the destruction of the 4th Amendment to the US Constitution and the denial of natural rights, as when the DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 to confiscate Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants in violation of everything that he stood for18. Drug warriors NEED addiction to be a bugbear in order to justify US intervention in Latin America, where our own Drug War policies have killed over 100,000 Mexicans over the last two decades and destroyed the rule of law19.

This, by the way, naturally resulted in a surge of would-be immigrants at our southern border, a fact which the shameless Drug Warriors did not hesitate to blame on the immigrants themselves and the countries from which they were coming. Finally, Drug Warriors NEED addiction to be a bugbear in order to justify the creation of laws that place authoritarians like Donald Trump in the White House20. How? By removing millions of poor minorities from the voting rolls. That's why Drug Warriors would never allow some tiny island country like the one mentioned above to flout America's drug laws by permitting free research on all psychoactive substances without restriction. Drug warriors do not want to solve the problem of addiction, they want to leverage it for their own political benefit.


CONCLUSION


It is bad enough when Drug Warriors outlaw therapeutic godsends, but I find it particularly irritating when they then proceed to tell me authoritatively that "such outlawed drugs could not have done this or that anyway." That sounds a little too convenient to me. It's as if a car salesman sold my favorite car to another buyer and then tried to convince me that I wouldn't really have been happy with it anyway. Besides, the kind of drugs we are talking about here have inspired entire religions21. How can they NOT be potentially useful in psychotherapeutic tasks such as drug withdrawal? Indeed, we already have proof that they CAN be useful in that way. Modern researchers like Fadiman22, Hoffman23 and Grof24 have amply documented the power of such drugs to bring about positive life changes for addicts, alcoholics and chain smokers. How? By elating and inspiring them. Yet Sam seems to think that there is some sort of zero-sum game afoot in the realm of psychology thanks to which anyone who violates Aristotle's Golden Mean of pleasure is going to come up short. This is not science, however. It is not even logic. It is just speculation based on what Nietzsche would have called the Apollonian metaphysic of the typical westerner, as distinguished from the Dionysian Weltanschuung of tribal peoples25, all of whom have had a time-honored history of profitably using the psychoactive substances that westerners have decided to hate.



Notes:

1 Quass, Brian, There is no such thing as DRUGS, 2020 (up)
2 Horses Kill, The Partnership for a Death Free America, (up)
3 Quass, Brian, How Scientific Materialism Keeps Godsend Medicines from the Depressed, 2022 (up)
4 Can Laughing Gas Help People with Treatment Resistant Depression?, Forbes Magazine, 2021 (up)
5 Quass, Brian, Christian Science Rehab, 2021 (up)
6 Chesterton, GK, Eugenics and Other Evils: An Argument against the Scientifically Organized State, 1822 (up)
7 This is typical drug warrior MO: make a sweeping statement about drugs without providing any context. Withdrawal is exquisitely painful? Withdrawal from what? For whom? What drug? What dosage? During prohibition or after re-legalization? (up)
8 Hogshire, Jim, Opium for the Masses: Harvesting Nature's Best Pain Medication, (up)
9 Szasz, Thomas, Ceremonial Chemistry: the ritual persecution of drugs, addicts, and pushers, Anchor Press/Doubleday, New York, 1974 (up)
10 Quass, Brian, The Naive Psychology of the Drug War, 2022 (up)
11 Quass, Brian, Suicide and the Drug War, 2022 (up)
12 Christian Science is the religion of Mary Baker Eddy, who believed that drug use was wrong because all problems, mental and physical, were to be solved by praying to Jesus Christ. (up)
13 Quass, Brian, The Truth About Opium by William H. Brereton, 2023 (up)
14 Mariani, Angelo, Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition, Gutenberg.org, 1896 (up)
15 Miller, Richard Louis, Psychedelic Medicine: The Healing Powers of LSD, MDMA, Psilocybin, and Ayahuasca Kindle , Park Street Press, New York, 2017 (up)
16 Pollan, Michael, How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science of Psychedelics Teaches Us About Consciousness, Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, 2018 (up)
17 Quass, Brian, Addicted to Addiction, 2020 (up)
18 How the DEA Scrubbed Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Poppy Garden from Public Memory, alternet.org, 2010 (up)
19 Paley, Dawn, Drug War Capitalism, AK Press, Chico, California, 2014 (up)
20 Quass, Brian, How the Drug War gave the 2016 election to Donald Trump, 2021 (up)
21 Marbaniang, Domenic, History of Hinduism: Prevedic and Vedic Age, 2018 (up)
22 Fadiman, James, The Psychedelic Explorer's Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys , Park Street Press, New York, 2011 (up)
23 Hoffman, Albert, The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications, Inner Traditions/Bear & Company, 2005 (up)
24 Grof, Stanislav, The transpersonal vision: the healing potential of nonordinary states of consciousness, Sounds True, Boulder, Co., 1998 (up)
25 Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Birth of Tragedy, 1872 (up)



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Addiction Tweets

ME: "What are you gonna give me for my depression, doc? MDMA? Laughing gas? Occasional opium smoking? Chewing of the coca leaf?" DOC: "No, I thought we'd fry your brain with shock therapy instead."
Until we get rid of all these obstacles to safe and informed use, it's presumptuous to explain problematic drug use with theories about addiction. Drug warriors are rigging the deck in favor of problematic use. They refuse to even TEACH non-problematic use.
Until we legalize ALL psychoactive drugs, there will be no such thing as an addiction expert. In the meantime, it's insulting to be told by neuroscience that I'm an addictive type. It's pathologizing my just indignation at psychiatry's niggardly pharmacopoeia.
We don't need people to get "clean." We need people to start living a fulfilling life. The two things are different.
Chesterton might as well have been speaking about the word 'addiction' when he wrote the following: "It is useless to have exact figures if they are exact figures about an inexact phrase."
The government causes problems for those who are habituated to certain drugs. Then they claim that these problems are symptoms of an illness. Then folks like Gabriel Mate come forth to find the "hidden pain" in "addicts." It's one big morality play created by drug laws.
Chesterton wrote that, once you begin outlawing things on grounds of health, you open a Pandora's box. This is because health is not a quality, it's a balance. To decide legality based on 'health' grounds thus opens a Pandora's box of different points of view.
Using the billions now spent on caging users, we could end the whole phenomena of both physical and psychological addiction by using "drugs to fight drugs." But drug warriors do not want to end addiction, they want to keep using it as an excuse to ban drugs.
Jim Hogshire described sleep cures that make physical withdrawal from opium close to pain-free. As for "psychological addiction," there are hundreds of elating drugs that could be used to keep the ex-user's mind from morbidly focusing on a drug whose use has become problematic.
And this is before we even start spending those billions on research that are currently going toward arresting minorities.
When doctors try to treat addiction without using any godsend medicines, they are at best Christian Scientists and at worst quacks. They are like the doctors in Moliere's "M
As Moliere demonstrated in the hilarious finale, anyone can be THAT kind of doctor by mastering a little Latin and walking around pompously in the proper uniform.
Like the pompous white-coated doctor in the movie "Four Good Days" who ignores the entire formulary of mother nature and instead throws the young heroin user on a cot for 3 days of cold turkey and a shot of Naltrexone: price tag $3,000.



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You have been reading an article entitled, What Goes Up Must Come Down?: So what? Drug use is about psychology, not physics., published on March 17, 2024 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)