Johann Hari, author of the outstanding “Chasing the Scream,” which you absolutely should read, continues to get the word out about the failures of our drug war through a large number of interviews and articles.
Of course, most of our national discussion on addiction has been hijacked by Nora Volkow and NIDA, whose agenda boils down to “drugs are bad.” They promote the brain disease model of addiction which is essentially presented by them in the following manner:
- Drugs cause brain disease
- Anyone who uses drugs will probably get this disease
- Nobody should use drugs
And this supposedly justifies prohibition.
Of course, even if the NIDA model were true, it wouldn’t justify the sledge hammer approach of prohibition, which doesn’t actually address the problems of addiction but causes all sorts of other problems.
And the brain-disease-directly-caused-by-drugs model is also braid dead, since the large majority of drug users never become addicted.
But, of course, the science already exists to explain the majority of addiction. The problem is that the answers don’t support prohibition and are thus unpopular with agencies like NIDA who exist to serve prohibition.
We know the major reason why addiction is transmitted through families â€“ and it is not what most of us think. There is a genetic factor; but there is another explanation that is even more significant â€“ and that we can do something about. A major study by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente (4) of 17,000 people has unlocked this â€“ and its results have subsequently been replicated by over 20 studies funded by individual US states.(5) […]
â€œA person who experienced any six or more of the categoriesâ€ of childhood trauma, Dr Felitti tells me, â€œwas 4600 percent more likely to become an IV [injecting] drug user later in life than a person who experienced none of them.â€ (6) He adds: â€œI remember the epidemologists at the CDC told me those were numbers a magnitude of which they see once in a career. You read the latest cancer scare of the week in the newspaper and something causes an increase of 30 percent in breast or prostate cancer and everybody goes nuts â€“ and here, weâ€™re talking 4600 percent.â€
The published research showed that for every category of trauma that happens to a child, they are two to four times more like to grow up to be an addict â€“ and multiple traumas produced a massive risk.
In these instances, drugs are more a symptom than a cause of addiction, and to attempt to “treat” drug addiction by merely attempting to eliminate drugs, doesn’t address the problem.
Today, we have a criminal justice system that takes people who are addicted because they endured trauma, and we traumatize them more. […] Dr Gabor Mate, one of the leading experts on this question, told me: â€œIf I had to design a system that was intended to keep people addicted, Iâ€™d design exactly the system that we have right now.â€
Dr Mate â€“ after years of treating patients who became addicts after hellish abuse â€“ has outlined an alternative. Imagine if we had taken the $1 trillion that has been spent so far on the failed drug war (11), and had spent it on the collapsing services designed to protect abused children instead. Every year there are 686,000 kids who have been identified as abused or neglected in the US â€“ and the services for them are appalling. (12) We are setting up a generation of new addicts â€“ and then we will squander more money punishing them. If we spent the drug war money on turning this around, there would, this evidence suggests, be a genuine and substantial fall in addiction.
The more we study, and the more we learn, the more we understand just how warped and counterproductive our drug policies have been.