Friday, November 23, 2012

Dr. Drew Pinsky, Authoritarian Asshole

    Dr. Drew is one of the most well-known faces of the numerous "addiction specialists".  As such he represents everything that is wrong with the drug treatment industry: coercing "treatment" against the patient's will, the use of the criminal justice system to force medical treatment and personal hypocrisy about his own drug use all while profiting handsomely from the "patients" he claims to care about.  No matter the outcome of the "treatment," the "addiction specialists" never fail to help themselves to their "patients" money, either directly or through insurance reimbursement.
     Dr Drew has weighed in on two high profile celebrities that use drugs.  Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan.    Apparently Dr. Drew is concerned that Lohan likes to party until the early hours of the morning, and gosh she's probably having sex too.  Whatever you may think of Lohan, and I don't think much of her either as an actress or for some of the ignorant shit that comes out of her mouth, she is an adult who has the right to consume drugs if she damn well pleases.  Dr. Drew's approach is to frame her by planting illegal drugs in her car and then calling the police.
    You see Dr. Drew really cares about his victims. Losing your freedom, being charged with a crime, suffering the dehumanizing environment of a prison, living with a criminal record, entering "treatment" where "professionals" tell their "clients" how to live their lives, this is all for your own good.  He claims to be a healer catering to semi-famous clients, but is more interested in his own fame and imposing his own arbitrary system of morality on his "patients."  I call that being an authoritarian asshole.

Further Reading:

Dr. Drew Endorses Planting Evidence on Drug Users to Get Them Locked Up [Link]
The board certified addiction specialist tells, "If she were my daughter, I would pack her car full with illegal substances, send her on her way, call the police, and make sure she was arrested. I would make sure she was not allowed to get out of jail. I would then go to the judge  and make sure she was ordered to a minimum of a three year sobriety program." [Radar]
You see, Dr. Drew is really concerned about her safety:
"I absolutely wish no harm to her, but I just have a feeling that something awful is going to happen to her, like she is going to lose a limb. I hope Lindsay gets help before something terrible happens."
Something terrible? Like getting framed for a carload of drugs by your own family!? Maybe they don't cover this in medical school, Dr. Drew, but you should really make yourself aware of the fact that many people have been accidentally shot by drug cops, sexually assaulted in jail, and otherwise mercilessly screwed over by the criminal justice system in ways that you and your massive ego don't have the luxury of predicting. 
Planting drugs on anyone is a serious crime that could go wrong in more ways than you can possibly imagine. Anyone who endorses screwing around like this has no business practicing medicine, parenthood or friendship. You can get people killed with this sort of idiocy, and as much as it would reveal about the stupidity of the war on drugs, "Hollywood Starlet Shot in Face by SWAT Team" is a story no drug policy blogger wants to write.

Dr. Drew Pinsky's Authoritarian Approach to Charlie Sheen [Link]
In a recent video with, Dr. Drew Pinsky discusses Charlie Sheen (sprinkled with condescending head nods and ending in smug amusement because the fate of someone's life is such a funny subject): "Whether it's drug induced or drug withdrawal or whether he has bipolar disorder, I don't know but right now he's manic. That's an acute psychiatric emergency. Bipolar patients that are manic are more likely to kill themselves or hurt themselves than when they're depressed. So this is somebody who should be in the hospital."
Note that Dr. Drew Pinsky is calling for the involuntary medical incarceration of someone who has not violated the law. If he wasn't using medical terms to threaten someone's liberty and to dehumanize them by refusing to respond to what they are saying, we would call this "libel." But what is going on here is worse than slander because this kind of insensitive, uncaring, profit-oriented, social-control oriented behavior is destroying people's lives.
It troubles me that Dr. Drew Pinksy's kind are making claims that can strip a person of their freedom and justify dehumanizing them. This sort of authoritarianism is cruel and inhumane. The police are required to read a suspected criminal their Miranda Rights before they lock them up, but not Dr. Drew Pinsky's kind. They can call a person "manic," identify him or her as a risk to either themselves or society, and have them taken away. Having been a victim of this practice, I can tell you that once you're locked-up, your freedom is completely gone. You are at the absolute mercy of outside sources and forces about what goes into your body and whether you ever get out of that institution again or not. Choice is no longer yours. In Dr. Drew Pinsky's addiction-recovery-treatment world a person is guilty until proven innocent.
Let me state this loud and clear--there is a problem. People are suffering with addiction and they do need help. But the problem is not the people, like myself, who find fault with the treatment they are given. The problem is the treatment.

Did Dr. Drew Lie About His Drug Use? [Link]
Dr. Drew Pinsky frequently enjoyed cocaine while working at the LA radio station, KROQ, in the early 1980s. This was asserted by two of his former KROQ co-workers earlier this year in this article, “Dr. Drew’s Drug Shocker!”. This allegation is not shocking because at the time cocaine use was commonplace in the LA entertainment industry.
Dr. Drew has not addressed the KROQ allegation. The fact that the most celebrated addiction doctor in America may have lied about his cocaine use will pass unnoticed. Dishonesty has always been an approved strategy in the war on drugs. 
Dr. Drew's drug shocker! [Link]
In 1982, Drew hadn't even finished medical school when he met KROQ DJ Jim Trenton at a party. "I asked him to do this segment with me called Ask a Surgeon," Trenton tells Life & Style. "Listeners could call in and get answers to their romance and medical questions." The segment was such a hit, it soon evolved into Loveline -- which remains on the air to this day. 
While they spent their days helping listeners with their love, sex and health-related problems, Drew and Jim spent many of their nights partying away. Often, Trenton says, that included cocaine use. "He used to say to me, 'Jim, I love cocaine,'" Trenton notes. "He'd say that a lot -- that he loved coke." In fact, Trenton adds, Drew "did coke with a lot of different people, including myself, on numerous occasions." Joanna Swylde, who worked as an intern at KROQ at the time and partied with Drew and Trenton, confirms Trenton's claims. She tells Life & Style they even used to snort lines of cocaine off album covers in the control room at work. "We would do it during the breaks on the show," Swylde recalls. 
Although Drew used coke, "I don't think he was addicted to it," Trenton tells Life & Style. "He used it recreationally.

Drug Warriors and Their Prey

Drug Warriors and Their Prey From Police Power to Police State
by Richard Lawrence Miller
Book Review (read another review here)

"Everywhere in the world I dread that same self-deception which holds that "it can't happen here." It can happen anywhere. It becomes unlikely only where the mass of the population is aware of the threat, where there is accordingly no relapse into lethargy, where the character of "totalitarianism" is known and recognized from its very inception and in each of its aspects-as a Proteus which is constantly putting on new masks, which glides out of your grasp like an eel, which does the opposite of what it claims, which perverts the meaning of its words, which speaks, not to impart information, but to hypnotize, divert attention, insinuate, intimidate, dupe, which exploits and produces every type of fear, which promises security while destroying it completely."
—Karl Jaspers

Mr Miller's thesis is that the war on drugs is a war on ordinary citizens.  Starting from that premise Miller lays out the similarities between the portrayal of Jews in Nazi Germany and illicit drug users in the United States.  The book is divided into five main chapters, each one titled for a step in the chain of destruction, Identification, Ostracism, Confiscation, Concentration, and Annihilation.  The "chain of destruction" was derived from Raul Hilberg's study of the destruction process.

Identification is the first step, a group is identified as a threat to the well-being of the society.  In Nazi Germany the Jews were identified as the source of all the problems facing Germany after World War One.  Poverty, crime, inflation, unemployment, social dysfunction, these were all blamed on the insidious influences of the Jew.
.  Today in the United States, illicit drug users are blamed for many of the same problems.  Much like Jews, people who use drugs are just like everyone else.  There are some drug users that can be detected solely by their behavior, much like orthodox Jews who can be detected by their manner of dress and behavior like following Jewish customs, but there are many more drug users and Jews whose behavior and mannerisms are just like everyone else.  To detect the majority of people who use drugs, like the majority of Jews, other detection methods are necessary.  And so the Nazis had to resort to genealogical records and drug warriors resort to drug testing.  People who use drugs and people who have Jewish ancestry are both guilty of status crimes.  Crimes not based on behavior, but on the status of the individual.

    Ostracism is the second step of the destruction process.  Once hate propaganda has identified a particular group as being a problem, ostracism from the Government and society further marginalize the targeted group from society.  In Nazi Germany, Jews were systematically excluded from the workplace and those who owned their own businesses suddenly found themselves facing boycotts.  Legal protections (civil rights) are weakened or removed altogether.  Miller gives many examples of this within the United States showing how the drug warriors have slowly chipped away at the bill of rights until almost nothing is left, and what is left is just rhetoric, easily swept aside by the drug warriors in their persecution.
    Miller also examines how the function of the law shifts from protecting the individual to protecting and promoting the state, which he calls "civic duty."  Thus we have criminal statutes used to "send a message" and the incarceration of "addicts" without a criminal conviction in a process called "civil commitment."

    Confiscation of property is the next step in the destruction process.  In this section Miller notes not only the similarities between the Jews in Nazi Germany, but also Japanese-Americans living in the US during World War Two.  Much of this chapter examines civil forfeiture proceedings, and notes how the transfer of property enriches the drug warriors at cost to their victims, a similar situation to what happened to Jewish property forfeited in Nazi Germany.

    "The Germans could not stand the idea of living in a world where one was not protected by law and order.  They would not believe that the prisoners in the camps had not committed outrageous crimes since the way they were punished permitted only this conclusion."
Bruno Bettelheim
    Miller opens the chapter on concentration with this quote, and I think it is apt.  The prison population in the United States has exploded, especially since 1980.  Today the US boasts housing 25% of the world's prison population, with only 5% of the world's population.  Much like the Nazi concentration camps, the general belief is that the victims must have done something to belong there, and like the concentration camps the victims are then used as a source of slave labor.  Companies that would scoff at the idea of hiring drug users are more than happy to hire prisoners once the matter of regular paychecks, safe working conditions, strikes and holidays off are done away with.

    Killing the the ultimate and final stage in the destruction process.  When thinking about the Holocaust, one is immediately reminded of the gas chambers used to exterminate people en mass.  Miller reminds us that the death camps were not the first methods used to achieve annihilation.  Death squads hunted victims, citizens brandished their own vigilante justice, disease was promoted while medical treatment was withheld, unemployment and discrimination encouraged suicide and families were broken up further encouraging dysfunction among the families of victims.  Victims were also sterilized thereby annihilating any future generations.
    The parallels are striking.  Drug prohibition itself maximizes harm.  Suspected drug users and dealers are often involved in extra-judicial killings, especially in "producer" countries.  To this day there are calls for the sterilization of people who use drugs (which I have written about here).  I recently learned that some doctors will not begin treatment for hepatitis or HIV infection unless the patient is at least three months "clean."  I guess people who are "dirty" (use drugs) are unworthy of medical care.  Laws against access to new syringes and against "Good Samaritan" statutes all maximize the probability that people who use drugs will get ill and die.  Pregnant mothers are less likely to seek prenatal care when they face the prospect of losing their child, thereby increasing the mortality of children born to mothers who use illicit drugs.  It should also be pointed out that most illicit drugs are less teratogenic than legal ones like alcohol and tobacco.

    Some will certainly dismiss Miller's analysis as hyperbole.  This reflects a certain amount of denial on the part of Americans, the war on illicit drug users just can't be the same as the Nazi war on Jews.  Others will scream Godwin's Law applies here because, unlike being Jewish, drug use is a choice.  The danger in Miller's approach is that he is preaching to the converted, supporters of the war on drug users are not likely to be impressed with miller's argument.  Those of us who have experienced this war personally are likely to agree with Miller.  Miller's work is also meticulously researched with over 50 pages of this 255 page book devoted to references.

    One final thought to conclude this review is to note how the early steps in the chain of destruction are used to justify further action.  Whether Jewish or an illicit drug user, if an individual is not permitted to live a "normal" life, if they are ostracized from society and have their property confiscated, if they are concentrated in ghettos or prisons, we should not be surprised by a great deal of social dysfunction in the population discriminated against.  The inability to live a "normal" life is then used as further justification for future action.  Whether a drug user or Jew, being forced to live in meager conditions rife with crime and disease is then used as evidence for the debased nature of the individual.  This continues the dehumanization and ensures that the chain of destruction continues.  It is quite obvious that the answer to the "Jewish problem" is the same as the answer to the "drug problem," namely call off the war and leave the people alone.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Needle Tip Under a Microscope

The Mystery of the Leaping Fish

This quirky and amusing drug movie came out in 1916.  The following is from YouTube, if you want to download the movie in various formats it can be found at the Internet Archive here. the film is only about a half hour.

Movie summary from wikipedia: 
    The Mystery of the Leaping Fish (1916) is a short film starring Douglas Fairbanks and Bessie Love. In this unusually broad comedy for Fairbanks, the acrobatic leading man plays "Coke Ennyday," a cocaine-shooting detective parody of Sherlock Holmes given to injecting himself with cocaine from a bandolier of syringes worn across his chest and liberally helping himself to the contents of a hatbox-sized round container of white powder labeled "COCAINE" on his desk.
    The film, written by D.W. Griffith, Tod Browning, and Anita Loos, displays a lighthearted attitude toward cocaine and opium. Fairbanks otherwise lampoons Sherlock Holmes with checkered detective hat, coat, and even car, along with the aforementioned propensity for injecting cocaine whenever he feels momentarily down, then laughing with delight. In addition to observing visitors at his door on what appears to be a closed-circuit television referred to in the title cards as his "scientific periscope," a clock-like sign on the wall reminds him to choose between "EATS, DRINKS, SLEEPS, and DOPE".

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Birth of Heroin and the Demonization of the Dope Fiend

The Birth of Heroin and the Demonization of the Dope Fiend by Thom Metzger

Today I finished reading Metzger's account of the story of heroin, from wonder drug to demon drug.  Metzger borrows heavily from Thomas Szasz, even quoting him in several chapters.  The majority of the book is accurate, although he does repeat some popular myths about methadone (it was not named Dolophine for Adolf Hitler).  Personally I enjoyed the earlier chapters about the Bayer pharmaceutical company more than the later chapters, although I suspect this is because I am at heart a chemistry geek and already quite familiar with the themes of later chapters.  Metzger shows how the "dope fiend" caricature evolved from notions of racial purity and obsessions about cleanliness and purity.  I thought the last chapter, titled "the new orthodoxy," could have been longer coming in at only 15 pages in a 216 page book.  The book also contains many images of the portrayal of dope in newspapers and notes the similarities to the portrayal of Jews in Nazi Germany.  This is a short book that can easily be read in a day or two, but is worth checking out.

Legalize Drugs Debate

Legalize Drugs Debate

For: Nick Gillespie Editor in Chief of and
Paul Butler Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
Against: Asa Hutchinson Former Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration
Theodore Dalrymple Dietrich Weismann Fellow, Manhattan Institute

This is encouraging as the undecided broke in favor of legalization 2-to-1.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I'm working on my own guide to the use of loperamide in suppressing the symptoms of opiate withdrawal.  There are a lot of opinions out there, many of which are based on hearsay.  I have several research papers that I will put up so people can look to the science.  In the meantime check out the following, which is among the best summaries available, better than looking to forums.  In the meantime check out the chemical structures below, notice how loperamide looks like a cross between methadone and fentanyl?

The Merits of High Dose Loperamide for Opioid Withdrawal

Loperamide In Opioid Withdrawal

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The "evil" of addiction to narcotic drugs

I posted this at DrugWarRant.


Recognizing that addiction to narcotic drugs constitutes a serious evil for the individual and is fraught with social and economic danger to mankind... 
Conscious of their duty to prevent and combat this evil...
‘Deliver us from evil’? – The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 50 years on by Rick Lines [Link]

In the context of international treaty law, this wording is notable in that the Single Convention is the only United Nations treaty characterising the activity it seeks to regulate, control or prohibit as being ‘evil’.   
[Conor]  Gearty is correct, however, in his recognition that the use of such language is highly unusual. Indeed, the unique nature of the use of the language of ‘evil’ in the Single Convention is particularly glaring when considered alongside that used in other treaties addressing issues that the international community considers abhorrent.   
For example, neither slavery, apartheid nor torture are described as being ‘evil’ in the relevant international conventions that prohibit them. Nuclear war is not described as being ‘evil’ in the treaty that seeks to limit the proliferation of atomic weapons, despite the recognition in the preamble that ‘devastation that would be visited upon all mankind’ by such a conflict.
The closest one finds to the language contained in the preamble to the Single Convention to describe drugs is that found in international instruments in the context of genocide. For example, in describing the crimes committed during the Second World War, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights uses the term ‘barbarous acts’, while the Genocide Convention uses the term ‘odious scourge’.
    I have been dependent (I'm trying my best not to use terms like "addict" or "addiction" as I think these are loaded with false meanings and used by the treatment industry to justify coercion and control of the lives of people who use drugs) on opiates for a long time, more than ten years.  I don't steal, commit acts of violence or any other criminal activities beyond using certain drugs "non-medically" (itself a meaningless term simply implying using a drug in ways not approved by the medical-industrial complex that is the FDA, AMA, DEA, ect).  People use drugs for all different reasons so I won't speculate on why other people use opiates, but for me it's always been about self-medication.  Without going into details let me say that, for me, opiates are a far better mood elevator than conventional treatments offered by doctors and yes I've tried many different medications.  There is a small but significant percentage of people who only truly feel well on opiates.  In case you think we're all just a bunch of dirty junkies consider that William Steward Halstead, the "father of American surgery" was also a lifelong morphine user, just one of many examples of men and women who accomplished great feats in many different disciplines while also using opiates.  As Ethan Nadelmann has said (quoting from memory so may not be verbatim), "Some people take drugs and say they feel normal for the first time in their lives.  I've only ever heard that reaction from two drugs: prozac and heroin."

    I have tried methadone which made me quite ill, gaining nearly 100 pounds and experiencing serious cognitive decline.  Suboxone is somewhat better, although nowhere near as good as traditional full-agonists like morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl , heroin, ect.  And God no I don't want naltrexone (Vivitrol),  which has such side effects as liver toxicity and inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)!  Without a doctor to prescribe, indeed even if I could find such a doctor he/she would be be putting their practice and freedom at risk from the DEA, my choice is between the black market or inferior conventional options.  It is true that I could live without opiates, and I have done so for long periods of time (I try not to use terms like "clean" which implies that people who use drugs are "dirty"), but not without experiencing some loss of quality of life.  When people use drugs like antidepressants for depression or caffeine to increase alertness we don't condemn them for inability to "deal with reality."  Why is my particular form of self-medication a "serious evil for the individual" and "fraught with social and economic danger to mankind."

    The truth is that the convention on narcotic drugs, and all other treaties and policies that support global drug prohibition, are responsible for most of the social and economic danger to mankind caused by drugs.  Global drug prohibition is a serious evil that deserves to be compared to slavery and torture, NOT addiction to narcotic drugs.  Calling addiction to narcotic drugs an evil justifies the execution, arbitrary incarceration and torture (including the standard "cold-turkey" treatment in jails) of people who use opiates, as long as combating narcotics is seen as being good.  I myself have experienced violence at the hands of police simply for being a suspected "drug user."  All in all I would say that I've had it much easier (in no small part to being white) than some of my junkie brethren, so many of whom have histories of childhood abuse, neglect and poverty.  

The sooner we can get rid of these archaic and moralistic international treaties the better.  

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Updated Mission Statement

Updated the page about this site.

The purpose of opiophilia is:
(I) To advocate for the right of individuals to use opiates, also known as narcotic analgesics, without constraint.  This includes both "medical" and "recreational" use as well as any route of administration as determined by the user (oral, intranasal, intravenous, ect.)
(II) To provide accurate information about opiates.
(III) To offer different perspectives on opiate use.  In an era where the use of opiates is viewed with suspicion at best and outright hostility as worst, Opiophilia hopes to de-stigmatize and de-pathologize opiate use by providing the perspective(s) of a user(s), including the good, bad and downright ugly.
(IV) To document the worst abuses of the "War on (some) Drugs," which is really a war on the people who use the "wrong" drugs.  The truism that the first casualty of war is truth is certainly at work here, as well as the inevitable dehumanization of the "enemy."  As INPUD says, we are people not collateral damage.

I have thought long and hard about these issues over the years.  I always welcome constructive debate, but please do not contact me to tell me how my views are "sick" or "wrong."  Yes, I want to legalize heroin as well as all other pharmaceutical opioid drugs for all adults.  Perhaps you adhere to the "progressive" notion
that people who use opiates are "diseased" and in need of "treatment," delivered against the "patient's" will if necessary.  I support meaningful treatment for people who have issues with their substance use, as long as the treatment is evidence-based and voluntary.  I reject the notion that drug use, in and of itself, is a disease.

If these views offend you, please look away.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Links to Papers on Addiction

I am in the middle of an experiment involving high-dose loperamide and don't feel much like writing at the moment but over the last few days have been compiling a list of random papers I have read relating to addiction.  Over the next week I hope to be able to finish writing my take on addiction, Can't or Won't Stop?

Are there circumstances in which drug use is involuntary?

Further Reading:

Addiction? by Robert M Goodman The Great Issues of Drug Policy 1990 [Link]

Let's explore reasons for the self-delusion, or misimpression, of the addict who says, sincerely though not truthfully, "I habitually do something I don't want to do." This calls for a thought experiment. Imagine a triangle. Make it a purple triangle. Now see that purple triangle whistling "Dixie". Do you see it? Hear it? Is it vivid? 
Now erase the triangle, and imagine yourself hungry, or at least with appetite. (This won't work if you already feel like eating when you do this.) Is the feeling vivid? If you're like me and most people I've asked, the conjured impression of the purple triangle whistling, though an unfamiliar experience, is much more vivid than the imagination of appetite, a familiar percept. 
The lesson is that for most people some percepts, including appetites, are much harder to imagine than others. The phenomenon is manifest every time I try grocery shopping on a full stomach. In evaluating what foods to buy, and how much, I rely on my memory or imagination of how good it would be to eat. But my imagination can't easily penetrate the sensation of fullness in my stomach, though it can easily penetrate a world of lights and sounds to produce the purple triangle whistling "Dixie". 
I'm fat. I like eating. But after a big meal I sometimes wonder, why did I eat (all) that? The problem is that I actually can't remember the appetite or its satisfaction, the good feeling that came with eating. I can't imagine the feeling. Were I not familiar with this defect of imagination, I could easily persuade myself that I habitually do something (eating, or eating more than a certain amount) that I don't want (at that time) to do. (Similarly I might think I could get much more out of life if I just slept less. I can't imagine sleepiness; all I can do is remember that sleepiness does come regularly, and needs to be dealt with by sleeping.)

Alcoholism: A disease of speculation [Link]

Wayburn, Thomas L., "The Case for Drug Legalization and Decontrol in the United States" [Link]

Wayburn, Thomas L., "Fallacies and Unstated Assumptions in Prevention and Treatment," Accepted for publication in The Great Issues of Drug Policy, Arnold S. Trebach and Kevin B. Zeese, Eds., The Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C. (1990) [Link]
Wayburn, Thomas L., "No One Has a Right To Impose an Arbitrary System of Morals on Others," in Drug Policy 1889-1990, A Reformer's Catalogue, Arnold S. Trebach and Kevin B. Zeese, Eds., The Drug Policy Foundation, Washington, D.C. (1989)

The Myth of Drug-Induced Addiction by Bruce K. Alexander
Department of Psychology, Simon Fraser University [Link]

Schaler, J.A. (2004). You, robot. Liberty, October, Volume 18, No. 10, p19-21.[Link]

Themes in Chemical Prohibition by William L. White
Drugs in Perspective, National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1979 [Link]

Drug Addiction as Demonic Possession by Dale Atrens
Reader in Psychobiology University of Sydney
[published in: Overland vol 158, Autumn 2000, pp.19-24] [Link]

The production of stigma by the disease model of addiction: why drug user activists must oppose it by Eliot Albers Presented at the 20th International Conference on the Reduction of Drug Related Harm, Liverpool, April 2010 [Link]

Addiction: Medical Disease or Moral Defect? by Maia Szalavitz [Link]
Several studies find that teaching people that addiction is a brain disease increases rather than reduces stigma. Why should the “scientific” or “medical” model trigger such a seemingly irrational response? Basically, it's because people see those who are “brain diseased” as permanently damaged and scarily out of control. As a result, they want to lock them up (whether or not they get treatment) even if the problem “isn’t their fault.”
The fewer “aspects of mind” you attribute to someone—like being able to freely make choices, feel pain and pleasure, and form intentions and plans—the more you dehumanize at person, research finds. And the more you dehumanize a certain group of people, the more you support measures like incarceration or treatment that is coercive and infantilizing. After all, the treatment is intended to fix those whose behavior is child- or animal-like in being uncontrollable.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

International Drug Users Day

Did anyone know that today, November 1st, is International Drug Users Day?  Thanks to Freedom's blog for alerting me to this.

Marijuana lovers spark one up!
Opiate lovers get to a-nodding!
Stimulant lovers get to a-tweaking!
Entheogen lovers get to a-tripping!
Ecstasy lovers get to a-rolling!
Depressant (including alcohol) lovers get tipsy!
Tobacco lovers get to a-puffing!

All other drug lovers that I missed go ahead and get high.  The right to ingest substances is a fundamental human right.  Just because one person's choice of intoxicant differs from the officially sanctioned recreational drugs (namely alcohol, tobacco, caffeine) does not mean that they are morally corrupt or diseased (or both). It is wrong to discriminate against a person just because their drug of choice has been arbitrarily criminalized.    It is wrong to wage a war against people who are involved in the production, distribution and consumption of illicit drugs.  The war on drug users is fundamentally a religious war with drug users playing the role of heretics.  People who use the wrong drugs are persecuted not because of the pharmacological properties of the drugs, but because to use these drugs, outside a strictly defined medical setting, is to engage in a heretical ritual act.

If we define religion broadly as that with gives meaning to life, in which case drug use clearly applies as a religious act (ritual).

Because the war on drug users is ostensibly waged in the name of health and public safety its religious nature has been obfuscated as much as possible.  And so we get mired in debates about rates of drug use, the relative safety of different drugs and sensationalist stories about people making very bad choices while high.  The fundamental premise on which our modern day drug wars lie is never questioned.  Is it moral to wage a campaign, though a combination of medicine and criminal justice, against people whose choice of intoxicant differs from the cultural norm?  There was a time where waging war against people whose religious practices differed was not only considered justified but morally right.  Religious persecution is now viewed as dishonorable, but instead of being lost to history has been replaced with chemical persecution.

International Drug Users Day is a celebratory event.  It is about being a drug user and being OK with that.  It's about being a human being first and rejecting labels of "sick", "diseased" or "deviant."