Essay date: April 9, 2022

Why Louis Theroux is Clueless about Addiction and Alcoholism

like almost every other would-be Drug War reformer on the planet

The Drug War renders us impotent in treating alcoholism because it outlaws all the psychoactive medicine that might inspire the alcoholic to change.

hen Louis Theroux saw a young alcohol addict outside a London hospital, he mused: "What struck me was the sense of impotence I felt about how to help him. I only hoped he could find his way back to happiness and sobriety."

Louis fails to realize that it is the Drug War which renders us impotent in treating alcoholism because it outlaws all the psychoactive medicine that might be of real help to the alcoholic. That impotence is reinforced by our Christian Science focus on sobriety as a goal, thanks to which the patient is only considered "cured" if they are using no psychoactive medicine whatsoever (with the possible hypocritical exception of dependence-causing Big Pharma tranquilizers). If we thus counsel the addict both to foreswear medical godsends and to strive to achieve a state of completely drug-free sobriety, it's little wonder that we feel impotent when it comes to truly helping them. We might as well just tell the alcoholic, "Let go and let God," and then move on to the next alcoholic who is waiting for our "help."

The sane alternative to this Christian Science prescription for alcoholics and other addicts is to treat them with strategically chosen psychoactive medicines with the goal, not of making them sober (i.e. drug-free) citizens but rather of helping them to wisely use precisely those substances that allow them to succeed in life rather than to fail. That should be the goal in treatment, after all, not to turn the addict into a good Christian Scientist who dogmatically eschews the use of all psychoactive medicine whatsoever. To enforce the latter goal is to ignore the needs of the addict and to turn their experience into a morality tale, instead, a narrative that follows the usual drug-warrior party line: a person is entrapped by evil substances, turns to God (or a higher power) , and finally realizes that he or she can do all that they need to do in life by becoming completely sober. Most Americans would be shocked by such Christian Science advice when it comes to physical disease, yet we feel justified in enforcing those same Christians Science principles by law when the goal of treatment is to expand or improve one's mental outlook.

Author's Follow-up: April 3, 2023

Besides popularizing MDMA, Alexander Shulgin has synthesized hundreds of drugs that could cheer up the alcoholics and help them screw their heads on straight, especially when employed therapeutically with the help of a pharmacologically savvy shaman or empath. It is really a crime that all substances of this kind are illegal -- it means that curing alcoholism is illegal. In the age of a Drug War, we do not want to help alcoholics, we want to make them "sober" as that term is hypocritically defined by western society. We want the alcoholic to go through hell so that we can turn their plight into a morality play, whose moral is that we should all turn to the Christian god for help, the god whom we conveniently disguise as a "higher power," of course.

The Links Police

Do you know why I pulled you over? No, if anything you were navigating too slowly. No, I just I wanted to tip you off on some additional essays that touch on the subject of addiction and drugs:

Addicted to Ignorance
Addicted to Addiction
America's Invisible Addiction Crisis
How The Drug War Killed Andy Gibb
The Myth of the Addictive Personality

Next essay: How the Drug War Killed Amy Winehouse
Previous essay: The problem with Modern Drug Reform Efforts

More Essays Here

essays about

The Myth of the Addictive Personality
Addicted to Ignorance
Addicted to Addiction
America's Invisible Addiction Crisis
Open Letter to Addiction Specialist Gabriel Maté
Sherlock Holmes versus Gabriel Maté
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

essays about

My Conversation with Michael Pollan
Michael Pollan and the Drug War
Michael Pollan on Drugs
Punky Brewster's Shrooms
Spike Lee is Bamboozled by the Drug War
How the Drug War Killed Amy Winehouse
How The Drug War Killed Andy Gibb
Grandmaster Flash: Drug War Collaborator
Glenn Close but no cigar
Richard Feynman and the Drug War

old time radio playing Drug War comedy sketches

You have been reading essays by the Drug War Philosopher, Brian Quass, at Brian is the founder of The Drug War Gift Shop, where artists can feature and sell their protest artwork online. He has also written for Sociodelic and is the author of The Drug War Comic Book, which contains 150 political cartoons illustrating some of the seemingly endless problems with the war on drugs -- many of which only Brian seems to have noticed, by the way, judging by the recycled pieties that pass for analysis these days when it comes to "drugs." That's not surprising, considering the fact that the category of "drugs" is a political category, not a medical or scientific one.

A "drug," as the world defines the term today, is "a substance that has no good uses for anyone, ever, at any time, under any circumstances" -- and, of course, there are no substances of that kind: even cyanide and the deadly botox toxin have positive uses: a war on drugs is therefore unscientific at heart, to the point that it truly qualifies as a superstition, one in which we turn inanimate substances into boogie-men and scapegoats for all our social problems.

The Drug War is, in fact, the philosophical problem par excellence of our time, premised as it is on a raft of faulty assumptions (notwithstanding the fact that most philosophers today pretend as if the drug war does not exist). It is a war against the poor, against minorities, against religion, against science, against the elderly, against the depressed, against those in pain, against children in hospice care, and against philosophy itself. It outlaws substances that have inspired entire religions, Nazifies the English language and militarizes police forces nationwide.

It bans the substances that inspired William James' ideas about human consciousness and the nature of ultimate reality. In short, it causes all of the problems that it purports to solve, and then some, meanwhile violating the Natural Law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. (Surely, Jefferson was rolling over in his grave when Ronald Reagan's DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated the founding father's poppy plants.)

If you believe in freedom and democracy, in America and around the world, please stay tuned for more philosophically oriented broadsides against the outrageous war on godsend medicines, AKA the war on drugs.

Brian Quass
The Drug War Philosopher

PS The drug war has not failed: to the contrary, it has succeeded, insofar as its ultimate goal was to militarize police forces around the world and help authorities to ruthlessly eliminate those who stand in the way of global capitalism. For more, see Drug War Capitalism by Dawn Paley. Oh, and did I mention that most Drug Warriors these days would never get elected were it not for the Drug War itself, which threw hundreds of thousands of their political opposition in jail? Trump was right for the wrong reasons: elections are being stolen in America, but the number-one example of that fact is his own narrow victory in 2016, which could never have happened without the existence of laws that were specifically written to keep Blacks and minorities from voting. The Drug War, in short, is a cancer on the body politic.

Rather than apologetically decriminalizing selected plants, we should be demanding the immediate restoration of Natural Law, according to which "The earth, and all that is therein, is given to men for the support and comfort of their being." (John Locke)

Selected Bibliography

  • Bandow, Doug "From Fighting The Drug War To Protecting The Right To Use Drugs"2018
  • Barrett, Damon "Children of the Drug War: Perspectives on the Impact of Drug Polices on Young People"2011 IDEBATE Press
  • Bilton, Anton "DMT Entity Encounters: Dialogues on the Spirit Molecule"2021 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Boullosa , Carmen "A Narco History: How the United States and Mexico Jointly Created the 'Mexican Drug War'"2016 OR Books
  • Brereton, William "The Truth about Opium / Being a Refutation of the Fallacies of the Anti-Opium Society and a Defence of the Indo-China Opium Trade"2017 Anna Ruggieri
  • Burns, Eric "1920: The year that made the decade roar"2015 Pegasus Books
  • Carpenter, Ted Galen "The Fire Next Door: Mexico's Drug Violence and the Danger to America"2012 Cato Institute
  • Chesterton, GK "Saint Thomas Acquinas"2014 BookBaby
  • Filan, Kenaz "The Power of the Poppy: Harnessing Nature's Most Dangerous Plant Ally"2011 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Griffiths, William "Psilocybin: A Trip into the World of Magic Mushrooms"2021 William Griffiths
  • Hofmann, Albert "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Plants: Ethnopharmacology and Its Applications"2005 Inner Traditions/Bear & Company
  • Irwin-Rogers, Keir "Illicit Drug Markets, Consumer Capitalism and the Rise of Social Media: A Toxic Trap for Young People"2019
  • James, William "The Varieties of Religious Experience"1902 Philosophical Library
  • Mariani, Angelo "Coca and its Therapeutic Application, Third Edition"1896
  • Mortimer MD, W. Golden "Coca: Divine Plant of the Incas"2017 Ronin Publishing
  • Partridge, Chiristopher "Alistair Crowley on Drugs"2021 uploaded by Misael Hernandez
  • Rudgley, Richard "The Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Substances"2014 Macmillan Publishers
  • Shulgin, Alexander "PIHKAL: A Chemical Love Story"1991 Transform Press
  • Shulgin, Alexander "The Nature of Drugs Vol. 1: History, Pharmacology, and Social Impact"2021 Transform Press
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Cosmos and Transcendence: Breaking Through the Barrier of Scientistic Belief"0
  • Smith, Wolfgang "Physics: A Science in Quest of an Ontology"2022
  • St John, Graham "Mystery School in Hyperspace: A Cultural History of DMT"2021
  • Szasz, Thomas "Interview With Thomas Szasz: by Randall C. Wyatt"0
  • Wedel, Janine "Unaccountable: How the Establishment Corrupted Our Finances, Freedom and Politics and Created an Outsider Class"2014 Pegasus Books
  • Weil, Andrew "From Chocolate to Morphine: Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs"2004 Open Road Integrated Media
  • Site and its contents copyright 2023, by Brian B. Quass, the drug war philosopher at For more information, contact Brian at