More from Johann Hari on addiction (updated)

Johann Hari’s new book “Chasing the Scream” is getting some good coverage. Apparently he was on Coast to Coast recently with a huge audience, and reviews are starting to show up quite a few places. The book is available for sale beginning today.

Again, I think this is one of the best books out there right now about the drug war and how we need to move beyond it.

Last week, I discussed some of the ideas about addiction that are in the book.

Over at Huffington Press, Johann talks some more about this aspect of the book.

Update: Here’s a great youtube clip of Johann and Russell Brand talking about the book and the issues.

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31 Responses to More from Johann Hari on addiction (updated)

  1. strayan says:

    Great to see Gabor and Alexander get some well deserved acknowledgement. Their voices have been drowned out for far too long. The NIDA paradigm of addiction needs to be jettisoned lickity split.

    • Yes, I agree strayan. The same NIDA paradigm that ASAM uses and abuses. Forced abstinence for the masses and prohibition for all.

      • B. Snow says:

        Yepn the concept that – if they make it illegal to use cannabis, and someone still chooses to use it – knowing that the criminal penalties could have lifelong consequences = then you’re an addict…

        Because (going by their argument) no ‘sensible’ person would risk such a thing = UNLESS they weren’t hopelessly addicted to it!
        Or maybe some folks simply have Absolutely Zero respect for those bastards and their stupid ‘sobriety ultimatum’… So they smoke twice as much cannabis as they would otherwise.

        AND, further still we’ll create new even more fun, more effective, and more potent ways to consume it (mostly) just to spite those m*therf*ckers and their Uber-Nosey, Nanny-Stater, “Sister Bertha Better-Than-You” bullshit!

        Sorry – that kinda got away from me there = But, I meant every blessed word of it!

        • DdC says:

          Same illogical conclusions drawn with x thugczar Turner and Rayguns spraying paraquat on pot crops. The dead kids should have known better. Not like they weren’t warned about the dangers of pot. How many more kids will be killed or caged to protect them from the munchies? This is one sick fucking country sometimes…

          Poisoning Pot Smokers
          In August and September, 1983, Turner went on national television to justify the illegal marijuana spraying (by plane) of paraquat in Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee by the DEA. He said it would teach a lesson to any kid who died from paraquat-poisoned pot.

          The same Turner heading up the gossip anti some drugs groups in Fla. Along with Sabet and Calvina and assSembler…

    • jean valjean says:

      Absolutely agree. I have been astonished that there was no huge outcry when the New Jim Crow was published, not even on this site! Or maybe I just missed the response from the Couch?

      • jean valjean says:

        oops! my bad. As i read on into the book i realized you were referring to Bruce Alexander of Rat Park fame, not Michelle, of the New Jim Crow. Apologies Strayon.

  2. jean valjean says:

    I’m about half way through Chasing the Scream. Just finished the chapter about separation in childhood being a key driver of ‘addiction,’ and can confirm that this has been my own experience. This book needs the maximum publicity to counter the the torrent of ignorance about “drugs,” not to mention those like Anslinger who cynically exploited that ignorance despite his own writing confirming he knew better. Interesting that Hari finds the connection between Anslinger and his junior drug warrior Sheriff Joe Arpao.

    • claygooding says:

      Sheriff Joe may be as evil or worse,,I don’t think Anslinger was liaison for a major cocaine trafficker,,,I would not be surprised if Joe got caught at one of his safe houses sooner or later because if he was assisting Noriega he has tasted the money and I think he is still sampling it.

  3. kaptinemo says:

    Anslinger maintained Senator Joe McCarthy ‘s morphine habit in secret.

    Hypocritical b@st@rd destroys the lives of countless people, and then enables a further expansion of that destruction by having maintained McCarthy’s ability to do even more damage, this time to the entire body politic.

    Such is prohibition: like a fish, the rot starts at the top.

    • DdC says:

      Sen. Joseph McCarthy: Unrepentant Junkie

      Conservative Addiction Good, Liberal Addiction Bad!

      I think we need a new word. Hypocritical describes saying one thing and doing the opposite. These professional liars speak out of both sides of their mouths as if it was a natural act. Abortionists against PP. Killers for Christ or Sabetage lying to keep little girls having 300 seizures instead of 2 or 3. While jailing her parents or CPS giving their kids to white trash christian trailer park gossip queen foster care. Again I say this is one sick fucking country sometimes…

  4. Francis says:

    Johann Hari on what the Rat Park studies suggest is the source of addiction: “It’s not you. It’s not the drugs. It’s the cage you live in.”

    And how does the drug war attempt to deal with the problem of addiction? By locking people in cages. Unreal. I know Pete posted this Guitherism just the other day, but it’s one of my favorites and it gets at this same tragic absurdity:

    “As anyone who has tried to quit smoking knows, dependence is hardest to overcome during difficult or stressful times. That must be why, when the government helps drug abusers quit, they arrest them and take away their job, possessions, and children.”

    Also, for anyone who missed it at the time, this cartoon by Stuart McMillan about the Rat Park experiments is phenomenal.

  5. Servetus says:

    Addictophobia has probably been in vogue ever since Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. Certainly the addict always seems to be the villain in schlep Hollywood film productions. Successful maintenance of a physical drug addiction is possible given the right conditions, yet the public is given little exposure to the Netherlands and Switzerland for their achievements in this area. More public awareness of the successful, functional addict is needed.

    I once knew a former banker who successfully maintained his heroin habit. He didn’t fit the stereotypes. Every now and then he would go off heroin to dry himself out for a while before starting up again later. Each time he quit he willingly subjected himself to withdrawal symptoms with no added physical or mental support, as if the discomforts he accrued by going cold turkey were some kind of ritualized penance for the addiction. His refrigerator was stocked with enough vitamins, health foods and health supplements to supply the residents of a city block for a week.

    The same categorical thinking that brings about Islamaphobia and other forms of discrimination is at work against drug consumers. The same techniques that dissuade people from being bigoted toward people of other cultures will also work to lift addicts above the simple-minded concepts of sin and punishment. It’s a difficult task. There are always going to be people, those who are losers in their own right, who look for excuses to denigrate, subjugate, and exploit the “other”.

    • Crut says:

      An emphatic thumb up here.

      Those who label and then block all further input are exactly the neanderthals that are slowly (excruciatingly) dying out; but also, still unfortunately have influence and the ability to reproduce.

      No individual is entirely the label that you place upon them, no matter how accurate the label.

  6. Common Science says:

    “No one has ever gone beyond the Drug War and regretted it.“ – Johann Hari

    Another succinct observation that signals a departure from the speculative direction of the last version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM 5). We know of a number of examples where real addiction can be tackled in more empathetic terms. The scientists that encourage grandiose misdiagnosis to pathologize even normal human behaviour for prescription drug treatment should have their motives audited.

    • When it comes to drugs, the DSM 5 has more to do with shaping the definition of the mental health profession within government parameters (and of course making money), than it does the diagnosis and treatment of “disease” or being mentally healthy. Its politics not science.

      • Correction: Its politics and business, not science.

        • Common Science says:

          Precisely TC. In 2012, two scientists on board the Personality Disorder Work Group believed the DSM-5 would afford evidence-based classification. It was apparent to them a groundswell in their field to support such a focus. The work group seemed to ignore their earnest requests and went about revealing a most convoluted classification. They quit in disgust.

  7. Servetus says:

    Researchers led by the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health conducted research on common psychedelic drugs to determine if they can be used to stem addiction and suicide:

    Using data from more than 190,000 respondents of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health from 2008-2012, the researchers found that those who reported ever having used a classic psychedelic drug in their lifetime had a decreased likelihood of psychological distress in the past month, and decreased suicidal thinking, planning and attempts in the past year.

    “Despite advances in mental health treatments, suicide rates generally have not declined in the past 60 years. Novel and potentially more effective interventions need to be explored,” said Peter S. Hendricks, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Health Behavior and lead study author. “This study sets the stage for future research to test the efficacy of classic psychedelics in addressing suicidality as well as pathologies associated with increased suicide risk (e.g., affective disturbance, addiction and impulsive-aggressive personality traits).”

    There are likely to be a number of different ways to deal with addiction; prohibition will be a problem in any case.

  8. The Hunting of Billie Holiday

    How Lady Day found herself in the middle of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics’ early fight for survival.

  9. CJ says:

    yes how awesome… its maybe not related too much but the idea of rat park got me thinking too. Sometimes as a drug reformer youll engage an opponent who, unlike so many, will actually educate themselves about the issue and will bring to the argument table commentary other than the usual “its wrong” “its illegal” and the usual intellectually [and often fact] lacking redundancies. One such thing is the park in Zurich that was called Platzspitz park. So people will say to you how the “drug park” example is proof positive why legalization doesn’t work right. LOL. I mentioned in a recent comment here about a need for common sense and I think that Im gonna reiterate that again right now but really though common sense is such a crucial thing in all of life, and the more you think about it I think youll find, especially in first world life, the sickening appalling lack of common sense.

    So think about it, in this video, at one point they talk about Portugal. Johann Hari says that 1% of the population were heroin users [as you all know I hate the term addict and wont use it but thats just me.] So 1% heroin users, that didnt mention anything about weed smokers, crack smokers etc. etc. Thats a pretty big number if the whole of drug users is considered. Now consider that is JUST PORTUGAL which is really a minor European country. So, take in context now the ENTIRE WORLD, not just Portugal but all of planet earth. And now to those who do use drugs regularly and theyre told this tiny park in Zurich is basically the only place in the world where you can go and legally buy and do drugs. OF COURSE ITS GONNA EXPLODE. LOL. THE WHOLE PLANET, THE WHOLE CHARTED, KNOWN WORLD, AND OF IT, ONLY ONE, MEASLEY LITTLE SPECK OF A DOT IS WHERE YOU CAN GO AND DO THIS THING YOU CANNOT DO ANYWHERE ELSE. COMMON SENSE!

    Meanwhile, I digress, and say something that I say often, lets never understimate the power and value of history. As I’ve said many times even here, the global history of earth is one wherein drug prohibition did not exist and yet the passed 1900 years, the foundation of our lives, we do not hear about a world of drugged out zombies. ACTUALLY the annals and histories dont have very much to say about drugs. Ironic, isnt it, that all the commotion about drugs begun appearing in mass after this thing called prohibition had been instituted. No coincidence at all.

    And we all can truly never forget just how severe a villain that Angslinger was/is. His work is truly a great example of evil, dare I suggest as evil as Nazism.

  10. Frank W. says:

    For the love of Godwin! I’ve been using Hitler for years as my go-to comparison. Actually Hitler’s pretty weak tea for 21st century prohibitionists. And it never occurred to Nazis to convert a German to Judaism, then send him to a death camp as a Jew.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      I’m not getting your point. Why is it that you think an article in the MSM about someone getting an overdose of exo-cannabinoids is remarkable? Are you under the mistaken impression that an overdose requires a fatality?


      noun (ˈəʊvəˌdəʊs)
      1.(esp of drugs) an excessive dose

      verb (ˌəʊvəˈdəʊs)
      2. to take an excessive dose or give an excessive dose to

      • Frank W. says:

        It’s the way the story was presented by the newsies and concluded with the old “some say” it’s evidence we need more regulation. I really dislike those newscasts except for Weathergirl Alyssa Caroprese.

  11. Servetus says:

    Kevin Sabet just got stomped by Tony O’Neill over at Wow. Read how Sabet gets caught in a lie, where he tries to distance himself from the fact he consulted for the Semblers. Kevie thinks because he didn’t take money for it, it doesn’t count.

  12. Tony Aroma says:

    OT: It’s about time, mon!

    Jamaica Cabinet approves bill legalizing marijuana

    The Cabinet has approved the bill, meaning that the country’s Rastafarians could have the legal right to smoke the drug if it gets the Senate’s approval later this week.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      One of the most annoying things for me is outsiders wholesale ignorance of the history of cannabis. By happenstance I was just reading an article on the BBC website about Jamaica’s very weird proposed law. The article says that this means that the Rastafarians will be able to practice their religion without threat of arrest for the first time ever. That’s utter hogwash. When the Rastafarian pilgrims landed in Jamaica in 1930 cannabis was not criminalized in Jamaica.

      I know that there’s nothing to be done about it but the death of fact checking in what used to be reputable news outlets annoys me to no end.

      • Tony Aroma says:

        From the article in my link:

        Jamaica has approved a bill that legalises the possession of a marijuana for the first time in 100 years.

        • Duncan20903 says:


          I stand corrected. Gosh I hate it when this happens. Not the being corrected part but being so certain of something while being so wrong. Making it especially annoying is that I can’t find the source of that mistaken belief. But in the attempt I did find this amusing piece of propaganda:

          Europe: Rastafarians Can Smoke Marijuana, Italian Court Rules
          July 18, 2008

          “Today we learn a Rasta is free to go around with drugs. If somebody belonged to a religion which permitted them to eat their children, would they give them the go-ahead, too?” worried right-wing Senator Maurizio Gasparri.”

  13. President Obama:

    “…We’ve treated this (marijuana) exclusively as a criminal problem, and I think that its been counter productive”…

    – about at the 11 minute mark in the video

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