Wandering with my eyes and heart open, searching for pieces to add to my own personal big picture.

Tag: dr. carl l. hart

Is It Time to End the Drug War?

Drug Use for Grown-Ups by Dr. Carl L. Hart has opened up a whole other world to me. It’s answered some questions, generated new ones, and instigated me to revisit how I how I look at drug use. Unlike the author, I’ve never personally used any illegal drug. Yes. I know. Crazy. I never even smoked any pot before it was legal in California. I have now, but not much. I just didn’t like it, and I’m not interested in spending the time to experiment with dosages and types.

My drug of choice is alcohol, specifically good whiskey and tequila. They lift my spirits and put me in a better mood to socialize. There are times when I’ve drank too much, and I’ve had to sleep it off. I am not an addict, even though I do want that high more often than I drink because I’m a reasonably responsible person.

Since my drug is legal and regulated, I’m not worried about the people or place I buy it being associated with other criminal activity. I also don’t worry that what I’m drinking may contain a poison that I’m not aware of or may be enhanced with something my body isn’t ready for. And I have recourse if something does go wrong from my imbibing. No one will arrest me when I go to the emergency room if I’m sick, and I could sue the company that made it if they did something to harm me.

Unlike other drugs.

The question I’ve always had has been, “Why would someone use heroin? What’s the practical use?” Dr. Carl L. Hart has answered that question; because it relieves pain, makes people feel better, it’s fun, it expands consciousness, etc. And that goes for all the other drugs we have banned.

Studies are showing that almost all the negatives of drug use are due to the fact that the substance is illegal. People are not educated as to the safe use of the drug, they can’t be sure of the purity or amount of what they are taking, and they aren’t aware of the effects that will occur when they stop taking the drug.

Everything we do to stop people from making, selling, and using the drugs only creates more problems.

After all we learned from the prohibition of alcohol in the early 20th century, why do we think banning certain drugs will stop people from taking them? And why do we think it’s any of our business what another person wants to do with their body?

If you think I’m one of those crazy people that advocates for the legalization of all drugs, you’re right. I have been on the track for many years, because government has no place in determining what is good and bad for you.

Like Dr. Hart says, “The point is that whether I use a drug or not is my decision; it is not the government’s decision. Further, my responsible drug use should not be subjected to punishment by authorities. These ideas are central to our notions of liberty and personal freedom. The current punitive approach to dealing with recreational drug users is wholly un-American.”

My issue has always been the negatives of drug use, the physical problems that can occur, safety, and the like. After reading this, I’m angry. The government and the media has lied to us (as they are want to do) and created a mountain out of a molehill, “for our safety” of course.

Please read this book, listen to some of Dr. Hart’s talks, or read his articles. The war on drugs has got to end. It’s claimed enough lives.

Steering Toward a Better View on Drug Use

Drug Use for Grown-Ups by Dr. Carl L. Hart is filled with details documenting why and how our public view on drug use has become so…wrong.

“Attention-grabbing headlines claiming that opioids (or any other drug) are killing people are wrong. Ignorance and poverty are killing people, just as they have for centuries.”

“It’s also important to know that it is difficult to disentangle politics from science when dealing with a federal organization such as NIDA.”

The studies he cites and the experience he’s had, along with his feelings about drug use and its effects lead me to believe, once again, that we’ve been led in the wrong direction by…politicians, “morality”, and sheer ignorance. The so-called “war on drugs” has been going on my whole life and every year it only gets worse, according to the news. What if we did something totally crazy and tried something different?

“It took me nearly twenty years and dozens of scientific publications in the area of neuropsychopharmacology to recognize my own biases against amphetamines. I can only hope that you don’t require as much time and scientific activity in order to understand why reasonable adults might use this class of drugs. And I hope this knowledge engenders less judgement against and greater empathy for people who use amphetamines.”

I’m not going to go through all the truth bombs that are dropped in this book. I’d just be rewriting it. But I highly recommend reading it yourself. His research and perspective may get our country closer to being a bit more reasonable and compassionate toward those that use drugs and maybe even other areas where we’ve decided to butt into other people’s choices.

“It also wasn’t lost on me that in medicine, methamphetamine is used to improve the lives of patients. Recreational users take it to feel good and increase energy. In short, amphetamines help make people feel better. How can we be against people pursuing happiness?”

“I don’t entirely know why this is the case, but my guess is that it has something to do with the misguided puritanical values that are so pervasive in our education and that disproportionately regulate our behaviors. I think H.L. Mencken put it best when he defined puritanism as “the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”

And every time we make laws to “protect” people from themselves, we only create more problems that radiate out into the world to cause more and more suffering. At what point will we as a species learn to leave other people alone to live as they see fit?

“The totality of the evidence shows that on the overwhelming majority of measures, the cognitive performance of marijuana-exposed children does not differ from that of control subjects. Furthermore, even when there is an observed statistical difference, it is inappropriate to conclude that that difference equates a deficit, or that it has an impact on the daily functioning of an individual.”

This: Different does not mean deficient. Why is that so hard for everyone to understand? It brings me back to my experience with my children and public education. Because I learn differently does not mean there is anything wrong with me. Because I live, love, act, differently does not mean I need to be fixed. Why do feel this compulsion to fix everyone around us and make everyone exactly the same?

As you can see, this book is bringing up quite a bit of an emotional response in me. I’m not even touching the experience of racism that the author relates within these pages, not to mention police activity surrounding drug use and poverty here and in other countries.

I’ll probably be in this book for another day or two, so you’ll get at least one more post from me about it. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you’ve read this book, or plan to.

Drug Use for Grown-Ups: New Read

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?

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