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How much say should addicts have on drug policy?

The New York Times has a very strange article on Mexico’s recent partial decriminalization law: In Mexico, Ambivalence on a Drug Law

That “ambivalence” apparently stems from the New York Times talking to two people: a drug addict and a former drug addict.

“No one should live like I live,” [cocaine and heroin addict Yolanda Espinosa] said. “It’s an awful life. You do anything to satisfy your urge. You sell your body. It ruins you. I hope this won’t make more people live like this.” […]

At one Tijuana drug treatment center, a former addict was not convinced that going easy on those found with drugs was the right approach. “With everything that’s happening, we need to distance ourselves from drugs,” said the former addict, Luis Manuel Delgado, 50, who is also the center’s assistant director. “Imagine if I told the people in here that it was now legal for them to have a little. No way.”

Jailing addicts helps them reach rock bottom and decide to turn their lives around, Mr. Delgado said.

Even putting aside the fact that today’s addicts got there despite (and maybe partly because of) massively repressive laws, and that evidence shows much better ways of helping those who abuse drugs than the “rock bottom” approach, does it make sense to turn to those who have problems with a substance for advice on policy for everyone else?

I have problems with certain types of food, in that I find them hard to resist, which makes me overweight, and could cause future health problems. What if I said that anybody who eats those foods should be thrown in jail as a way to force myself to stop?

Or should a video game addict call for anyone who plays Zelda to be imprisoned? Or maybe someone with a sexual fetish should call for a complete prohibition on women’s shoes?

I’m not saying that those who abuse drugs shouldn’t be allowed to speak about drug policy — of course, everyone should. But the New York Times seems to be pretending that drug abusers are the only ones with a dog in this hunt, which is ridiculous.

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16 comments to How much say should addicts have on drug policy?

  • Voletear

    This is an old trick of the Drug War Goebbels’s. You can find someone to say anything you want said and that goes for addicts as well. It goes doubly for self-proclaimed “former” addicts with a financial stake in the status quo whether it be in the treatment “industry” or what have ye. Or young addicts. Or assinine addicts. Or whatever; they’re just opinions. Like mine. But such solicited opinions keep coming back.

    Addiction – at least to opioids and at least for me – is a lifelong phenomenon. Pushing 4 decades now. You live and learn. For example: during the Eighties I was off of methadone and dope for about eight years. Now there was a time where if I had been interviewed and asked about it, I would have sworn that methadone just wasn’t needed. All addicts had to do, I likely would have proclaimed, would be to follow my wisdom – which I would’ve dispensed liberally. I doubt I would’ve mentioned that opioid abstinence had turned me into an alcoholic, a drug I’d never liked. I didn’t know, moreover, that I had HepC and that alcohol was killing me. Methadone wouldn’t have harmed my liver like the legal and socially-approved alcohol was. But a lot of folks would have read something like that – if it had occured – and considered my 7 years “clean time” and thought I knew what I was talking about. I didn’t.

    We never really know what we’re talking about. The politicians, bureaucrats, and medicos who tells us how and what we must do about our addictions don’t know anything at all, especially about what they do when they hand down their drug dogma. That is why it should be up to each person to decide for himself. It’s their life.

    I got back on methadone; hopefully in time.

  • jhelion

    “I couldn’t control myself, so we need to remove temptation”. Sorry, that’s still sado-moralism, and little-brain “logic”.

  • Voxpop is a horrible thing because it’s statistically unsound and lends itself to too much cherry picking. It’s anecdotal evidence at best.

    First off a reformed addict is an unreliable witnesses. Former addicts are often the worst because they’ve been run through the streamlining machine of drug treatment. They’ve been cajoled into having the “right opinions” – often it’s a requirement of the treatment facility.

    For current addicts and even some casual users it’s not unusual to find an acceptance of drug war theories. It probably stems from the well-known psychological discrepancy between the attributed motive for oneself and others.

    As a rule we attribute our own success to our phenomenal skills, and our failures to outside causes. For others people have a tendency to attribute their failures on inherent character flaws.

    Thus, the coke users would look at himself and conclude that while HE can control use others might not be so lucky because they’re flawed individuals prone to addiction.

    The second big thing is the “rock bottom” theory. That argument I’ve also heard here in Denmark, so it’s probably quite prevalent.

    In my view it exposes the basic flaw of treatment today. Everyone seems more inclined to having spiders lay eggs in their skin than attend treatment. What does that say about what treatment has to “offer”?

    At the very least it suggests that treatment is the extended arm of prohibition, ie. somewhere you don’t wanna go voluntarily.

    OK, so a LOT of those attending treatment voluntarily are people who have come to a point where all self-respect is gone. Had I read such a statement out of context my first thought would be that we were talking about a predatory religious movement trying to proselytize. Because no one is quite as receptive as those who have been broken down mentally and physically.

  • DdC

    76 years…
    They haven’t been able to get out those tough yellow journalism stains…

    “Marhuana is highly intoxicating and constitutes an ever recurring problem where there are Mexicans or Spanish-Americans of the lower classes.”
    ~ New York Times – Newspaper (1933)

    Everything is happening during prohibition. duh.
    Everything harmful in the article is caused by prohibition.
    This revolving gossip mill mudia and copshop science.
    Bla bla bla bla bla bla bla…

    If you describe a city, during a combat situation,
    and put it in a tourist brochure,
    you won’t get many vacationers visiting that city.
    Bait and switch, comparing apples and cotter pins.

    “Like Judas of old
    You lie and deceive
    A (drug) war can be won
    You want me to believe
    But I see through your eyes
    And I see through your brain
    Like I see through the water
    That runs down my drain”

    ~ Bob Dylan,
    Masters of War

    D WR: Open Thread
    August 22nd, 2009 at 12:44 am
    * Study Backs Heroin to Treat Addiction
    * There Might Be New Hope in the Treatment of Heroin Addicts
    * Kathmandu and the Black Prince

    US CA: Willie Nelson in Jazz Country

    “I’m real lucky.
    My health is as good as it’s ever been.
    My lungs are in good shape —
    and there are lots of people all over the world
    wondering how that could be, like Michael Phelps.”

    ~ Willie Nelson,
    76-year-old road warrior

    Shocking! Willie Nelson Busted for Pot

  • Carol

    I never really wanted to take “How to Live a Well-Balanced Life” advice from someone who had spent their lives dedicated to being addicted to one thing or another.
    Has anyone else noticed that many who have indulged themselves most take very severe positions with respect to the behaviors of others?

  • Nick Zentor

    The two obsessives interviewed in this article were obviously cherry-picked from a large group of people for this article, otherwise it would include more such people with other opinions. If they really expect everyone to believe that all such people are confined to the 2 opinions presented by this article, they are undermining the public’s intelligence. People who read this article should be offended by it because it assumes all people are morons.

  • Pete, I’m gonna have to ask you to leave Zelda off the list of prohibitions.

  • Ah, Brian, are you saying you have a little bit of an addiction problem, there? I know I did at one time – back with The Legend of Zelda on NES. But I managed to quit without SWAT busting down my door.

    Note: For those who loved The Legend of Zelda, you may want to check out The Legend of Neil, a NSFW life-action video parody series of the Zelda world, now in its second season.

  • permanentilt

    I still know where every ring, “secret to everyone”, sword, staircase, triforce, etc… is in the original Zelda. You want to talk about an addict, I contend that it should be required playing in school!

    Back on topic tho, ironically I bet you could find a lot more non-addicted people who support this law. People getting over addiction have reached the desperate point where they believe that they must completely change their idea about the substance to get over it. They are very wrong, and this bipolar attitude is what inevitably leads to relapse.

  • DdC

    I think junkies who quit or are forced into retirement, are called dry drunks? With an over zealousness to stop others. Glum Bluck is an x alcoholic and so naturally everyone has to find the happiness he has found lying and gossiping on faux news. Almost every drug paranoid worrier has some profit in rehab or prison paraphernalia. Caliphony or Straight Inc Calvina all earn a living off the misery they cause others. I think they’re flat out control freaks, way past co dependency. The corporations fearing competition play them like fiddles. Now ain’t that America, home of the free baby. I’d like to see how the football fans act if they pull an intervention and remove Sunday games from TV. Maybe the cops and pisstasters drug of choice is persecuting vulnerable citizens. It must release a chemical that makes them high as hell. More addictive than heroin if you listen to them plead for it to continue. DEAth Merchant politicians mainlining falsehoods and draconian coercion. They even steal like junkies needing a fix, called confiscations and forfeitures. Sick bosstards. They need help. Book em Danno. Here’s another x spurt spewing lies.

    Just when you think its safe to go into the water…

    So-Called Medical Marijuana Is a Con
    Ric Llewellyn is one of four conservative community columnists whose work appears here every Saturday. These are the opinions of Llewellyn, not necessarily The Californian’s.

    Or Americans. Is this a joke? His name is lies well in?

  • The Legend of Zelda is your classic gateway game. It pretty quickly leads to Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, then The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, and eventually you just can’t stop playing Zelda: Twilight Princess for Nintendo Wii.

  • permanentilt

    dmac, LoZelda isn’t just a gateway to more Zelda games, you miss the important point that it is a gateway to the most destructive games of all, MMORPGS!!!!!

    These games have destroyed far more lives than some plant ever could!

    LoZ is a direct line to never leaving your computer chair (much less your apartment), gaining 200 pounds on a diet of cheetos and redbull, face paler than a monk’s ass, speaking only in the barely decipherable language of “OMG WTFPWND NUBZZZZZ!!1!!1!11!!!1” while trying incessantly to get that DAMNED RING TO DROP!!!

    Very gateway indeed…..

  • warren

    I`m an alcohol addict. Alcohol is every where i`ts legal. My observation is some of these people want to be beat up with jail. They don`t feel WORTHY. Alcohol almost killed me I`m still alive since 1986. Meetings, counseling,reading, rehabs save me. Not some stinking jail,or closed mind cops or judges. The longer we stay away from a substance the less we feel we need closed mind boneheads. Long live mj and don`t give me any moralistic bullshit when or if I have a problem with marijuana I`ll seek help the correct way which I stated before.

  • BruceM

    I believe that people with vested interests in policy should have NO SAY in that policy. We shouldn’t let victims of DWI accidents have a say in the penalties for DWI any more than we should let alcoholics have a say in the penalties for DWI.

    Whether something should be a crime is no different. Take away the opinions all the drug addicts, recreational users, as well as the police and drug warriors (anyone who has so much as one dollar vested in preserving drug prohibition – including the drug cartels), and you’ll be left with opinions of reasonable, dispassionate people who can make a decision based on reason and facts, rather than their own self-interest. Decisions made on self-interest are bad decisions.

    note: this is why democracy does not work.

  • Nhop

    Unfortunately in the society we have today most people not involved with or knowledgeable about drugs, ie the “normal” person, still believes prohibition to be desirable and effective. We are starting to have an impact there, but we have a long way to go. In my opinion, if we had a vote today on whether to legalize drugs, we would probably lose. But if we continue to educate people to the realities of the prohibition system, its immorality and its ineffectiveness, we will get there. Thats why this website & people like Pete are so important.

  • Nhop: 99% of people who adamantly support decriminalization of marijuana (or just “medical marijuana”) implicitly support prohibition for all other drugs. It’s so selfish to only advocate decriminalization for your own drug of choice, while conceding that all other drugs are properly criminalized. I can’t stand people like that.