Back in February, I posted in Podcast Roundup that I had heard Dr. Carl L. Hart interviewed on People I (Mostly) Admire for the second time. The first time was back in May of 2021. His reasoning and research about legal drug use was so good that I wanted to know more, so I purchased his book, Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, back in March and I’m finally getting to reading it.

He starts with this quote:

“If people let government decide what food they eat and medicines to take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny.” -Thomas Jefferson*

“*I recognize that Thomas Jefferson and other revered historical figures enslaved black people. This was reprehensible even during their time. But the cruel hypocrisy of these individuals’ actions does not negate the noble ideal and vision articulated in their writings. These enshrined principles give us goals to which we continue to aspire.”

With that presented as the first words of his prologue, I’m now open to not only learning more about his views on drug use but also his views on racism. The book is a two-for-one deal.

“Too often, the conversation about recreational drug use is hijacked by peddlers of pathology as if addiction is inevitable for everyone who takes drugs. It is not. Seventy prevent or more of drug users – whether they use alcohol, cocaine, prescription medications, or other drugs – do not meet the criteria for drug addiction.”

Two things here, the first of which is the phrase “peddlers of pathology.” Why is it that everything lately is a pathology, something to abnormal to diagnosed and cured by a professional?

The second is something I’ve been thinking for a long time. If all the nasty headlines and studies are true, that all the drugs are so terribly addictive with horrible consequences for taking any amount at all, then why do I know so many healthy and productive people, living normal lives while occasionally taking them? I’m hoping this book will shed light on that.

“Outside the drug world, each one of us, on a daily basis, takes measures to prevent illnesses and to improve our health and safety. We brush our teeth, wear seatbelts, use condoms, exercise. We don’t call it harm reduction; we call it common sense, prevention, education, or some other neutral name.

… the term harm reduction obfuscates the fact that most people use drugs to enhance experiences, to bring about euphoria – for pleasure.

For example, traveling via car presents potential risks to one’s health as well as potential benefits that impact one’s happiness. Wearing a seatbelt, replacing tires so they are not worn, and making sure the brakes and windshield wipers function properly – all can be conceptualized as “health and happiness” strategies.”

That is a great point. I’ve only recently heard the term “harm reduction” and I thought it was a useful idea. Why not, instead of allowing people to kill themselves on a product, help them use it more safely? But we don’t do that at all. We have deemed a product dangerous and if you kill yourself or others doing it, then that’s on you. You’re the idiot that did what we told you not to do.

It sounds so…parental. Like we’re all children that just have to do stupid things the adults tell us not to, for no other reason than to be contrary. FYI – I don’t think children do this at all. They do what they feel does them the best good and we’re supposed to be helping them learn to listen to themselves and make the best judgement for themselves.

Instead of screaming, “DRUGS BAD! And you’re a horrible person if you want to try them and you’ll die if you do!” I’ve taught my children the positives of drug use, why someone would want the drug, and the dangers of drug use that I’m aware of. There are positives. We do know that, right?

This book has already begun to enlighten me upon another point of view, that maybe the “research” has been interpreted in some fairly biased ways, that possibly the outright banning of a substance that brings many people plenty of happiness is only increasing the chances of problems, violence and death, instead of lessening it. And, as I already suspected, hurts the poor and ignorant more than anyone else.

Why do we have such a need to control what other people do with their own bodies?

More posts on this book…
Steering Toward a Better View on Drug Use
Is It Time to End the Drug War?