Sunday, April 05, 2009

A Consumer Report

I have been meaning to write something about a Consumer Report I have been reading on licit and illicit drugs. They discuss a few famous opiate addicts, including the father of modern surgery Wm. Halsted, among others.

One bit of the article struck me as particularly interesting.

Incredible as it may seem, even a few poverty-stricken American addicts today make a reasonably successful adjustment to their addiction. "It doesn't happen often," Dr. Marie Nyswander concedes, "but once in a while, one of the so-called vilest addicts in East Harlem finds a doctor who gives him drugs or he gets an easy source from a friend. Under these conditions, he is likely to keep a job, maintain his family intact, and cut out his criminal activity. We see more of this kind of adjustment among middle-class and wealthy addicts who either have a medical disease which gives them a legal excuse for acquiring a regular supply, or who discover a brave doctor. With these people you see no social deterioration. I've yet to see a well-to-do addict arrested."
A $100 a day black market heroin habit is a heavy load. A $1 a day white market heroin habit can be supported by panhandling. It is true that drug users can be quite a burden. Opiate addicts like Surgeon Wm. Halsted should have been properly persecuted for their dug habits. And that Olympic Gold Medal guy? Pot just ruined his life.

A lot of the problems attributed to drugs are actually caused by forcing distribution to the black market. But who knows this? Not many because few still alive today remember what things were like before prohibition of drugs. You can start your education with a little history: The Marijuana Conviction: A History of Marijuana Prohibition in the United States which covers more than marijuana. Or you can read this speech given to the California Judges Association, Drug War History, by one of the authors of the book. Drug Warriors and Their Prey: From Police Power to Police State also has a lot of good history.

Cross Posted at Classical Values

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, drugs are harmless. You can live a fruitful, productive life as an addict. Unfortunately, all these folks might have disagreed with you. And that's just "famous" people...

Tell me, what is it like to live in a delusional state of mind all day, every day?