April 02, 2008

From James Morris:

Re: The evolution of drug abuse (March 21): As a former medical professional and a “child of the 60’s” I believe I have an commonly ignored perspective on this subject, rejected because it contradicts what the drug war proponents tell us is the truth.

This article skirts around one possible interpretation of the data: higher life forms have evolved to gain a degree of life enhancement and mental stimulation from the ingestion of psychoactive plants. As you know, scores of mammals and some birds seek out and consume such alkaloids, hence exhibiting normative behavior - yet human use of drugs is called ‘abuse’, not the more accurate word ‘use’.

While I felt encouraged by what this new research indicates, I felt the tone of the article was colored by politics, the author consciously or unconsciously using some of the jargon of those who have come to see science as an obstacle, not an answer.

I have countless friends and acquaintances who occasionally use illegal drugs and have only known one whose use evolved into abuse: a man much younger than my usual friends, leading me to question his knowledge and motivation considering he hadn’t been exposed to a generation that saw foolish excess and chemical ignorance as offensive, to be discouraged.

Interestingly, in my attempts to help this fellow I found that what he was abusing wasn’t even authentic; testing showed no illegal substances, only well disguised and unknown fax similes, substances which caused him to become irrational and paranoid and not pleasant in any way. Yet he persisted in spending his money and convincing himself that all was well, his behavior and judgement ‘normal’. But where could he ever have turned to find the unbiased truth when the meaning of words and medical realities have been replaced by an alarmist media and fabricated facts?

I am waiting for the scientist with the courage to tell the uncolored story behind this very human behavior. To point out the difference between ‘addictive’ and ‘habit forming’, between what we used to call ‘mind drugs’ and ‘body drugs’. An airing of factual explanations of the effects, motivations and consequences of drug use.

One such unbiased, scientific publication does currently exist: in a book written by the Consumers Union, publishers of Consumer Reports. It was written shortly before the cigarette and alcohol industries joined with the religious conservatives of the early 1980’s, before the inception of the ONDCP and decades of drug war propaganda.

In 2008 who knows that dying from a heroin overdose is rare, occurring only with an additional CNS depressant, such as alcohol? In 2008 who knows that the list of what is actually addictive is extremely short, composed almost exclusively of legal substances and opiates?

If science writers continue to agree to change the meaning of words and to ignore what is unpopular yet scientifically accurate, the very meaning of scientist may one day be redefined in the furtherance of some groups’ political or economic agenda.


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