Angel Dust from the 80’s was highly addictive and drove people to crime and insanity while imparting superhuman strength, making it especially demonic and a threat to civilization as we knew it. The media was full of stories of people crashing through glass windows while high on PCP or flipping over cars and requiring 10 people to hold them down. (No I am not confusing these stories with “The Hulk”, which was a TV series from the 70’s, though it may have inspired such portrayals.)
Though the panic and hysteria over Angel Dust have died down, we are still undoing the damage caused by such Drug War propaganda. These days we are subjected to similar stories about ‘spice’, ‘bath salts’ and ‘flakka’. Let’s not repeat the same mistakes, or we’ll end up with mandatory minimums again and renewed DEA funding and swat style home invasions and a national prescription monitoring database that forces more people into the dangerous heroin market.
Maia Szalavitz exposed the abusive and corrupt ‘troubled teen’ addiction industry of the 90’s which was another beneficiary of this agenda. She continues to deconstruct the propaganda in her more recent work showing that: the way people act on drugs is highly dependent upon their expectations of the experience as opposed to the pharmacology of the drug itself; behavior is dependent on media portrayals (news reports, tv shows and movies); crackdowns adversely affect people who legitimately need the drugs, making the lack of the drug as much a contributor to morbidity as ‘addiction’; addiction is not caused by overprescribing; addicts’ antisocial/criminal behavior usually precedes the drug use (which then gets the blame for it); and the Drug Court Caliphate is usually ineffective if not dangerous.
She also cowrote neuroscientist Carl Hart’s autobiography High Price (2013), which challenged the prevailing “Drugs are the cause of all our social ills” orthodoxy. More recently she debunked a New York Times story, “Heroin Takes Over a House,” about heroin use in Staten Island and pointed out that drug abuse and overdose were caused by social and economic factors (including criminality), not simply ‘addiction’. For example, people often overdose on drugs not because of ‘cravings’ but because they are illegal and they don’t want to get caught with the drugs in their possession, nor do they want to waste them. The only option is to use them, and this can be lethal. Thus “treatment” programs are less effective than decriminalization.
Nevertheless prominent media outlets continue to pump out addiction boogey-man propaganda. NPR’s All Things Considered recently did a story about a rash of deaths in the homeless population in Anchorage, Alaska. Melissa Block asks, “What is the pull of this drug and why is it so appealing and so addictive?” The interview makes clear that the deaths were a mass suicide: “You couldn’t tell who was unresponsive and who was just enjoying a sunny day.” There is a hint that this phenomenon is normal: “To lose seven people in July and August is unheard of.” And finally they admit that they have no actual cause of death so it is premature to blame spice. Yet the title of the story invokes the drug panic: “Don’t Use It, Don’t Try It, Don’t Smoke It!” Another issue here is that spice isn’t actually a drug; it is a process of spraying chemicals onto plant leaves, and the chemicals are always changing due to DEA crackdowns — meaning that the victims were unlikely to be physiologically or psychologically dependent on whatever killed them.
Alaska is in the process of decriminalizing pot and this will certainly help to alleviate the problem as the drug becomes more easily available. Nevertheless, the ‘homeless population in Alaska’ is undoubtedly a very troubled group and a history of mass suicides is not unexpected, or at all suggestive of an epidemic of addiction to the drug du jour.
Melissa Block is an experienced and incisive reporter, yet she completely buys into the ‘addiction’ meme. Typically in such cases a stepper is pushing this propaganda at a higher level. Whether they are consciously aware of the agenda is an open question, but they left in more than enough self-invalidating clues that it’s hard not to laugh once you see it. Sadly, left unchallenged this kind of propaganda is likely only to make the situation worse.
Szalavitz was recently selected as a Soros Fellow. She and the DPA, which receives the bulk of its funding from Soros, are the only 2 forces that openly counter these fonts of drug war propaganda. Nothing they do is unapproved by the foundation, meaning that Soros either understands that addiction is a lie, or more likely, doesn’t realize that these attacks undermine his interests. (He is a strong supporter of expensive mental illness and addiction treatment, so a change of heart on these religions is unlikely.)
Given that deaths by overdose are caused mostly by intentional suicide not addiction, it is easier to see the insanity of Ken Anderson’s disastrous call for media promoting drug combinations that can kill you, and Stanton Peele and NIDA’s recommendations for more ‘mindfulness training’. These will of course only make the problem worse. Just because they may be ‘anti-AA’, that doesn’t mean they are helpful. Anderson humorously blames the ‘media’ when in fact the situation would be far worse if they actually did what he suggested. And to be clear, I don’t blame the media for these stories, except to the extent they censor comments that point out the absurdities and lies in them or by the commentators on them. I actually find them quite funny. I only wish more people would challenge them. Recently pain patients have been finding their voice in response to the “My child died of drug addiction!” propaganda.
Here are some recent examples:
- Picking Painkillers: Treating What Hurts Without Triggering an Addiction – U.S. News & World Report
- Cheap Fix: Heroin’s Resurgence: ‘And then he decided not to be’ – Washington Post
- Flakka – The new drug that causes users to rip off their clothes and attack with super-human strength – Washington Post
- Is Crystal Meth the New Crack Cocaine? – The Fix
- Why America Can’t Kick Its Painkiller Problem – Time
- Time Magazine Releases Cover Story on Pain Killers – National Pain Report
- Tim Woodward: Lessons from three years in drug court – Idaho Statesman
- Colorado Springs mom goes cold turkey behind bars to kick drug habit – Gazette
- NYC sees surge in synthetic pot use, with dire consequences – Gazette – “An internal NYPD memo issued last month warned officers that some people strip off their clothes, become impervious to pain and go berserk if confronted, and advised to call for backup and use a Taser if necessary to get them off the street.”