Matthew Page looks into the concept of drug addiction.
Did you help Peaches Geldof and all the other drugs induced fatalities to die? Quite possibly. Everyone who lazily accepts the conventional wisdom about drugs played a part in these tragedies.
Many years ago, we decided to treat heroin abuse (and many other pleasure seeking habits) as an illness, not as the act and pursuit of breaking a known law by one’s own free will in an attempt to derive pleasure. No, we decided we wouldn’t punish those who did it. Instead, we ‘treated’ them, in many cases by mugging the taxpayer to give them free drugs.
Most people still agree on the idea that the drug user is a ‘victim’. The main problem with it is that it’s not true. The next problem is that it makes it much easier for people to become drug abusers. I don’t believe in ‘addiction’, but I’ll leave that for another time, I will only offer the challenge; can someone please define what addiction is, describe it, show how we can prove it exists in an objective, measurable and testable way. No pseudoscience or psychobabble; objective, measurable, verifiable evidence which denotes specifically the disease of addiction. The burden in such disputes lies with the advocate, not the doubter.
Even if I did accept ‘addiction’ was an objectively verifiable illness, it would only strengthen my point. If it really is true that once you start taking heroin you can never stop again until you die, shouldn’t we be devoting huge efforts to making sure nobody ever starts? And wouldn’t a severe deterrent law, one which (for a change) we actually enforced, be the best way of doing that? A few examples work wonders in changing people’s behaviour, as we found when the breathalyser and seat-belts came in. If we’d very publicly locked up a few famous drug abusers in the 1960s and 1970s, there’d be many fewer of them – famous or obscure – now. Because we didn’t, there are plenty more of these cases to come, plenty more ruined lives, plenty more orphans and plenty more pious twaddle.
Then there is cannabis the so called ‘soft’ drug that we have legalized in all but legislature, but is also a drug which could quite possibly land you in a locked ward with severe mental illness. Although correlation nor causation is part of its epidemiology. The great Victorian physician, John Snow, traced an outbreak of Cholera in London in 1854, to a particular water pump, though correlation. Medical fashion believed that Cholera was passed on through ‘bad air’ (interestingly, Big Tobacco for many years tried to claim – yes, they really did – that lung cancer was caused by general air pollution). So they derided Snow’s theory.
The Royal College of Psychiatrists have stated that; ‘In spite of government and media warnings about health risks, many people see cannabis as a harmless substance that helps you to relax and ‘chill’ – a drug that, unlike alcohol and cigarettes, might even be good for your physical and mental health. However, research over the last 10 years has suggested that it can have serious consequences for people, such as the development of an enduring psychotic illness, particularly in those who are genetically vulnerable.’
Dr Snow’s water sample from the affected pump didn’t conclusively prove that it was the source of the cholera outbreak, but when the authorities took the handle off the pump, the epidemic ended. Now, of course, everyone knows that Snow was right. But if he had been beaten off by the ‘correlation is not causation’ merchants, how many more people would have died of cholera before he could prove it? And how many more young people and their families will have their lives ruined by irreversible mental illness, while the Cannabis Lobby continues to behave in this unscrupulous and selfish fashion?
To understand these issues in more detail I would strongly recommend Peter Hitchens book ‘The War we Never Fought’ which shines a light on the phantasm that is drug prohibition, and also Patrick Cockburns book ‘Henry’s Demons’ which is an account of his sons decent into schizophrenia.
By Matthew Page
[Image: Gary Owen]