Some Truth About Narcotics and “Addiction”

By Susan Callaway, RN

To paraphrase what I’m told is an old American Indian saying: Don’t judge someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.

I’ve walked in those shoes. Both as a nurse and as someone who has lived with chronic pain most of my life, I’ve seen this thing from both sides. I’ve worked with “addicts” who were dying of AIDS, and many others. I took high doses of prescribed narcotic analgesia for years, though I did learn how to eliminate the medications.

In my case there was no “addiction,” and the physical dependence was easily overcome with a logical program of tapering off over a few days. It was not always completely comfortable, but it was manageable because I understood what was going on and was in control of both my body and mind. Ignorance and fear make the process painful and frightening, not necessarily the drug.

The whole notion of some uncontrollable, overwhelming “addiction” is mostly nonsense, but very few people – including doctors – have any real understanding of it at all. The incidence of true addiction is very low, and it takes real time and work for most people to become even physically dependent on a drug, let alone “addicted.”It doesn’t happen overnight, or after a few doses. The usual “addict” is addicted to the sensations, the euphoria itself, and the fact that they no longer remember their actual situation or feel responsible for themselves. They want only to crawl into a hole and pull it in after them. Some do it with drugs, some with alcohol and some with a whole host of other things. Many choose even more destructive combinations.

Addiction is of the mind and spirit, not just the body, and it is most certainly within the control of the person involved in most cases. Taking charge of our minds and bodies, and taking full responsibility for what we choose is not always easy, but it is almost always possible. That the mistaken idea of involuntary addiction is commonly used as an excuse for self destructive behavior does not change this fact.

Is it not, then, incredibly hypocritical to throw some drug users into jail, yet maintain others in their habit, both at taxpayer expense? Neither approach solves anything and both are destructive to “society” in general and to the individuals involved. Why do either one? Why not rather leave each other alone to abide by the consequences of our choices? Who is really better qualified than YOU to decide what you will do with your own life? If you choose destruction, how is it anybody else’s business?

Many people – even some who call themselves libertarians – voice the fear that uncontrolled drug availability would lead to increased crime, child abuse and general indolence by an increasing population of users. But these fears completely ignore the reality of economics and human nature. They also often ignore the reality of the police state response to these things, and the increasing death and destruction resulting from them. And there are certainly non “state” solutions to the problem of children and other family members caught in this tangle.

Generally speaking, those who choose to take drugs, or indulge in any other destructive habit indiscriminately, tend to become ineffective and unhealthy, unable to support themselves or their families. Instead of letting nature take its course, with the individual bearing full responsibility – therefore being faced with the choice of reform or starvation and death. All too often that reform is not actually an option because they are murdered in street action or midnight police raids, or incarcerated and actively prevented from having any kind of normal life afterwards.

There should be no barrier to helping those who are willing to receive it, either through private charity or the usual fee for services on a voluntary basis. There is no need to abandon people to fight this thing without recourse if they truly want help. In reality, the voluntary approach gives us the only honest chance to help them. Those who do not choose to seek help usually can’t BE helped anyway. They simply must not be enabled to continue destructive behavior at someone else’s expense.

Supply is determined by demand. The “war on drugs” has been a signal failure in reducing either the supply or the demand. Instead, it increases the price by increasing the risks associated with production and distribution. The high price simply encourages those who are willing to take the risks. Since they operate outside “the law,” they have every incentive to settle disputes violently, and their customers have no recourse if they are sold impure or false products.

The only appropriate response to aggression, real crime, is for the intended victims to be vigilant and defend themselves. The reason the criminal chooses aggression does not alter the required response. Locks on our doors, and tools to defend ourselves make a lot more sense than prison cells and SWAT teams.

Utopia is not an option. There will always be people who insist on making poor choices and imposing on their neighbors. Some will choose to damage their lives and families this way, no matter what anyone else says or does. It seems obvious that it isn’t possible to prevent anyone from making such choices or to remove every dangerous object and substance from our world. The only world of perfect safety lies in the graveyard.

Far too many people weigh in with opinions (and vote accordingly) without having the slightest understanding how drugs (any kind) affect the human body and mind, or the realities of economics. They have been told that all “illegal drugs” are evil, always bad, and the CAUSE of crime and poverty. So, the only logical thing to do, they believe, is to ever ramp up the efforts to eliminate the drugs and punish those who use or do business with them.

We can see that this approach is really improving all of our lives…

No? Well, perhaps it is time to learn the truth and try something else. As has been stated many times; the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. The results of the current “war on drugs” are always the same: more crime, more corruption of government, more people – users and innocent bystanders – with their lives and property destroyed, and lost liberty for everyone. When are we going to face the fact that this war on drugs “cure” is many magnitudes worse than even the most inaccurate estimation of the disease?

There are many good and learned articles and books on this subject, and I’m not qualified to rewrite any of it. I’ve included a good list of references below, and urge everyone who has questions to read as much as they can – until they get the answers.

The Other War By Thomas DiLorenzo

The Egregiously Destructive War on Drugs By Gennady Stolyarov II

Lies and Myths About Opiates by Randal Cousins

Meth Mouth and Other Meth Myths by

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2 Responses to Some Truth About Narcotics and “Addiction”

  1. Jerome Bigge says:

    There is even “LESS” reason to have prescription laws for medical drugs. Outside of the opiates and antidepressants, which can be addictive to some, the rest of the medical drugs are not subject to abuse. No one can get “high” on blood pressure medication. The same is true with cholesterol medications. Or medication to help control blood sugar. The same is true with medicine to control arthritis. So the question should be asked why has the government given doctors a legal monopoly over access to medical drugs? It may be true that a person can harm themselves with some of these drugs, but there are a lot of ways to harm one’s self, not just by taking the common medicines used for blood pressure, arthritis, high cholesterol, high blood sugar. The most reasonable answer is that physicians benefit economically from these laws as it gives them the opportunity to force the patient to pay for office visits, lab tests, and everything else in order to retain access to the medical drugs that they need.

    My blog on WordPress goes into further detail on this subject, but it is my opinion that these laws exist because it gives doctors power over their patients. According to law, a prescription can last no longer than one year. I assume that the medical profession got this law passed for their own benefit as I remember a time when this didn’t exist. My own opinion is that without these laws, doctors would only see patients when these patients decided that they needed to see the doctor. But with these laws the doctor holds the power of denial of access to medical drugs. The economic term for this is called “rent seeking”. It allows the physician to earn an income higher than what would be possible without these laws. An income that is not truly “earned”, but one based upon monopoly.


    • MamaLiberty says:

      Actually, Jerome, it’s more complicated than that, and in a funny way, much simpler. All doctors are not the same, anymore than every other person is the same as another. Some like the power, most definitely, but it doesn’t stop with the use of prescriptions and, of course, the entire political system is geared to give power to some and powerlessness to most others.

      Power over others is the only truly dangerous substance, And yet, ordinary people have been enabling the addicts for many thousands of years. The power addicts of the world have managed to convince most people, over the centuries, that they have some kind of legitimate authority to exercise that power! They have convinced the people they lord it over that their tyranny is somehow necessary and right.

      That is what we must get past. That addiction to being slaves is what we must overcome.


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