By all accounts J Peterson wasn't suffering interference in his life--he wanted quit the meds for basically ideological/aesthetic reasons (& if his doctor truly said he could quit cold turkey, they should lose their license), and then had horrible with withdrawal symptoms
In order to be an addiction, it has to caused marked interference in one's life. Yet, by all accounts, his script improved his life, and he cut it out for other reasons. In other words, his desire to quit was literally more harmful for his life than the thing itself.
In other words, he went from being physically dependent, but better off, and not abusing it, and then, for his reasons, cut himself off, and thus induced in his life literally all the worst symptoms of drug abuse & its after-fx & has to be slowly titrated down.
I've very little sympathy for JP, despite knowing what he's experiencing---his use of drugs & need for rehab is potentially the least offensive thing about it (bc it's not offensive), but it's such a clear cut case where prohibitionism & moralism are destructive on this issue.
Yall may remember when everyone got mad at that LA Times (iirc) reporter who tried to wean himself off SSRIs bc he felt they were a drug & bad, and how it failed. SSRIs do, in fact, induce physical dependence, but people found his column irresponsible & offensive.
Repeatedly, in the responses, people said, it's a medicine, not a drug, etc..Yet the situaton is analogous to petersons here--namely, a chemical agent that's a force for good, but can have negative side fx,that fosters physical dependence, being titrated down for moralistic ideas
And all people did, by responding, "that's not a drug, it's a medicine" is to reinforce the prohibitionist, technocratic & moralistic understanding of acceptable use of chemicals THAT DROVE THE GUY TO TRY TO QUIT AND WRITE ABOUT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
Here's a ready made answer for the future:
"Talking about it this way is dangerous, because it stigmatizes its use, and the voluntary ingestion of mind/body-chemicals, even if physically dependent, shouldn't be a stigma, crime or issue to delineate in the first place"
It’s the same idea as in the prison abolition community that one shouldn’t differentiate between violent & non violent, or political & non-political prisoners. Both legitimate the system we mean to abolish!
Drug prohibition, prohibitionism & moralism will always end up reinforcing especially ableism, and mental health stigma, (as well as racism etc), so why reinforce it by accepting the moralistic ‘drug/medicine’ dichotomy being used to police some people but not others
At best, irs inconsistent—addiction (abuse & dependence) is a disability, so, for them, recreational drugs ARE medicine, EVEN IN the moralistic framework. At worst it reifies the law & medical credentialism as the arbiter of what disability is valid and what is not.
Responding to someone calling their SSRI dependence & ideological and unwise decisions to quit, by saying ‘those aren’t drugs, they are medicine’ is saying ‘there are some users of mind altering substances that are deserving of stigma & criminalization’
Never mind the incredibly well proven relationship between co morbidity of mental illness & drug abuse/dependence. Conversely, those who get the right pharms (ADHD meds, suboxone maintenance) stop abusing drugs at very high rates.
In those instances, they can be legitimately seen as examples of self medication—something psychiatrists often will admit.
What’s more, most mind altering substances, legal or not, credentialed or not, when well used & handled, in regular, accessible doses do not have detrimental life outcomes, and, in many cases, improve them.
Addiction is the conjunction of abuse & dependence. As I was highlighting above, dependence is not sufficient for it. Abuse means to use it in a manner that starts to have difficulties in social, individual & other functioning.
It is not the same as (tho it’s related to) ‘the pharmakon’ the idea that whether something is medicine or poison depends on the dose.
Since, indisputably so (even the honest prohibitionists will admit this), the bulk of negative life effects, irresponsible methods & doses, inconsistent usage, & violence associated with what are called drugs are BECAUSE they are illegal.
If a person has ADHD, but for whatever reason, isn’t diagnosed, and thus starts to illegally use adderall, it would be called a drug, even though in terms of therapeutic & life outcomes (unless they’re caught) it’s acting like a ‘medicine’—difference? Legality & credentialism.
Many drug users will be prescribed chemical substitutes to their drugs of choice & will use them without issue until they die. The person, chemical profile, and symptomatology are the same. What differs? Legality & credentialism.
Now let’s posit a third group, those with no underlying issues they’re medicating for Or a dependence, that uses drugs recreationally but does not abuse or become dependent (& contrary to popular belief this is the largest group of people who have tried drugs)
In this case, it lacks the characteristics of abuse & dependence, arguably improves their lives (at least until the morning after lol), & tho this lacks the characteristics of medicine, it also lacks those associated with ‘drugs’ as well.
In other words, in the cases of pre existing undiagnosed issued and/or addiction, drugs function in all manners similarly to ‘medicine’, but what varies is legality & credentialism. But anyone who doesn’t fit in those 2 categories doesn’t meet the criteria for abuse & dependence.
Notice, this is acknowledged in the medical, psychiatric, & social/anthro etc studies of medicine, healthcare etc literature—drugs vs. medicine is not a chemical, or scientific distinction. It’s a distinction of dose, context, intent, legality, stigma & credentialism.
Prohibitionism, carceralism, ableism, & sanism literally destroy lives & the 4 are all tied together strongly both ideologically & structurally. Both depend on similar kinds of moralism, sentimentalism, and a view of an ‘authentic’ ‘pure’ body & to Protestant/capitalist morality
Prohibition destroys lives—between the effect on the murder rate (25-75% of it), overdose rate (most of it) , disease transmission rate (a shit ton), risky behavior, resulting accidents, and the like were talking something, at minimum directly, 70-100k a year
1.3 million languish in jail/prison for drug crimes and many more have passed through and thus have been destroyed by the system. Homelessness, STI & HIV transmission, social exclusion, unemployment, loss of education are all predicted by it.
But, people say ‘drugs are still bad’—as i explained:
1. The same thing is drug or medicine in diff context
2. Many medicines induce physical dependence and risky side fx
3. Many drug users are self medicating
4. Abuse + addiction is itself a disability & neurodivergence
5. The bulk of harms caused by drugs—indisputably so—is the result of prohibition
6. Stigmatizing & separating out legitimate ones has concrete destructive fx
7. I won’t lie & say that drugs wouldn’t still produce some toxic, dangerous & pathological fx when legal but let’s be clear, unless you support banning alcohol & tobacco, as these produce the worst said fx your position doesn’t hold.
7(cont.) in addition we tolerate all kinds of acceptable risks & harms—including from legal medicines—but also sky diving/x-sports,contact sports, driving,sexual acts, consumption habits, exercise habits, obsessive leisure activities, & occupations from truck driver to sanitation
While many of these we’d like to see gone & replaced, few of us would advocate banning these things, even tho the risk profile is often very similar or even worse. Some are considered socially useful, others not (altho, to me, leisure/consumption fulfillment is a social good)
8. When legal, well regulated, etc, the risk profile of recreational drug use varies from slightly more like the extreme sports end of things, while others have the risk profile of falling asleep watching TV. There’s no universal thing here.
9. In those recreational instances of drug use that don’t match the criteria of addiction or self-medication, then they also don’t count as abuse or dependence, and THUS—i.e. EITHER one is stigmatizing disability/neurodivergence OR use that doesn’t have the negative fx profile
Additionally, Prohibitionist defenses of psychiatric medicine end up hurting the very people they mean to defend! It’s literally self defeating and provably so.
1. consider the people like the LA times author or Peterson, who due to internalized prohibitionism & ableism, did great harm to themselves & perpetuated negative stigma
2. Consider the Doctors who won't treat with certain elements/people because they are 'drugs' or 'addiction'
3. Consider how drug prohibition laws are, in fact, one of the biggest obstacles for medical treatment, mental health resources, and so on. If you support, say, medicine for all as universal healthcare, but also prohibitionism, you're contradicting yourself.
4. Tying into this are the ways that prohibitionism not only discourages people from seeking treatment in the first place, but that, prohibitionism marks certain people (neurodivergent, people w disabilities, addicts, etc) as invalid for treatment or are mistreated
5. A substantial portion of those who are self-medicating will, if discovered, be prevented from receiving the medicine in a legal, etc manner
6. The context, dose, pacing & method of acquisition for those ppl would have been much safer absent prohibition
6. Prohibitionism perpetuates the ideology that the state, legal system, common prejudice & stigma, pharmaceutical companies, and medical technocrats are the legitimate arbiters of 'real' disability and/or neurodivergence, and who is 'legitimate' for treatment
In other words, the response to someone inaccurately referring to psychiatric medications, confusing physical dependence & addiction, and stigmatizing neurodivergent people should be that their entire coding system is internalized prejudice.
The response "that's irresponsible & stigmatizes neurodivergence & psychiatric treatment" MUST, by definition, presuppose that what's called 'drug' use is bad, but s we've seen, this is, in effect, saying some disabilities or neurodivergence or people w them are just & others not
I can go into a whole host of other topics and negatives about prohibitionism:
1. it is incredibly unscientific & w/ in research fields, harm reduction is dominant approach
2. It is racist in origin
3. It is classist
4. It is capitalistic in intent
5. It's tied to militarism
6. It ignores that substance use, dependence, habituation & abuse is not solely a neurobiological issue, but one involving things ranging from genes/embryological fx, all the way up to social, cultural, political, economic, relational, & ideological systems.
(to illustrate this:
1. Use is place dependent--vietnam vets, medical patients, people who change cities all quit at vastly higher rates)
2. It is social/network enforced (which explains all of the small fx of AA style treatment)
3. The 'capture' rate for a drug, the portion who turn from users to dependent, habituated, abusers, is explained MORE by social than neurochemical variables-->nicotine itself explains probably around 20% of its 80% capture rate, similar ratios for opates & amphetamines.
4. Stigma and labelling effects are *strong*--being labelled as addict, as criminal, as other generates massive persistent social costs, AND internalizing/identifying as these creates self fulfilling prophecies
5. The idea that drug use/abuse/dependence is caused by poverty is, at best, simplistic, and, at worst, not really true. When drugs were legal their biggest users were middle & upper earning petty boug, professionals & their families.
6. Instead, the biggest predictors are, most obviously, exposure & access, trauma/PTSD, childhood abuse, co-morbid mental illness, untreated attention & similar disorders, peer pressure, social network diffusion, social & personal habituation, alienation, isolation, loneliness...
...age--indeed, age is probably biggest individual predictor--14-25 or so--most users quit on their own by 25-30. gender (men abuse drugs at higher rates, altho), traumatic life events (divorce, unemployment, etc), and more.
One final gripe--while it should be clear that drug abuse is not an individual moral failing--it's due to factors such as genetics/epigenetics outside one's control, age, exposure,untreated mental illness, on 1 side, and situational, network, social, cultural, structural on other
and, on top of that, not only is human behavior already predicted more than 80% by situations alone (add in structures, culture, institutions upbringing, it's gonna push up to 95%), but dependence, habituation, abuse, coupled w isolation, age etc, compromise executive function
BUT, the medicalized format is still, in my opinion, just the liberal branch of prohibitionism. While reforms allowing maintenance, medical use, etc., providing therapy/education, are vastly better than carceral, and/or, harm reduction (which is even better)
medicaization stil entails stigmatization, bureaucratization, credentialism, social exclusion, state mandatory issues, moralism, arbitrary divisions of legitimate neurodivergence & disability from illegitimate, and is incoherent, for a number of reasons.
To give you an analogy, much was made about how taking homosexuality out of the DSM was a political, not 'scientific' decision (altho later scientifically backed), but when it occurred, all of a sudden depression, anxiety, other issues fell in the LBTG community.
Thus, psychiatry was forced to confront that non-het sexualities were not pathologies, but that the prejudices, violence, repression & so on surrounding them, did create issues (homophobic bullying, violence & so causes trauma, depression, anxiety, suicide, and so on).
This is just meant as an analogy in one key regard. Namely, that the medicalized idea of drug use as inherently a pathology contributes to the very ideologies, structures, behaviors & so on, that generate the bulk of its negative effects on one's life course.
Of course, as I said, legalization and ending prohibition will not end all of the negative fx of drugs, of abuse, and so on. But it sure as hell will remove worst of them, and soften the rest, while making dealing with those constructively vastly more easy.
But, as part of this project, the entire ideology, structure of feeling, sentiment & affect, and social, institutional, policy, organizational & economic system that is prohibitionism needs to be destroyed, and that includes the medicalization, & technocratic formulation.
As I wrote this, I know I am going to get dragged for it—alas—as there will be reactionaries & tradleft who say oh look degenerate lefties advocating drug use, for example.
Another segment, comprising 2 groups of people, former users (which I understand even as I disagree), & just moralistic scold types who will QT & say ‘wow so you’re advocating drug use, that’s actually really problematic & fucked up’
Another contingent will indignant scold me—in a manner that is explicitly the opposite of what my thread said—for being ableist & stigmatizing neurodivergence by comparing it to drug use. This, of course, will illustrate my point.
Another contingent will be those who call me a radlib or anarkkkiddie or a cop, & will claim variously that leftists should oppose doin drugs, or that since drugs are used by the state to repress communities, my anti prohibition advocacy helps facilitate that. Ofc all horseshit
For those who have been victims of the drug war, or abuse against people w disability or the neurodivergent, I can understand their concerns here on this emotional subject, but it is precisely to contribute to destroying those very oppressive things that this is aimed.
But for anyone else who responds in a moralistic manner, especially bad faith accusations, and especially if they are a leftist, will simply highlight how deeply the Prohibitionist ideology runs, and how just that much more we need to combat it & its concomitant structures.
If you are interested in reading more, then I recommend:
Popular press books:
Johann Hari--Chasing the Scream
Carl Hart--High Price
Gabor Mate--In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts
Introductory texts:
Samuel Walker--Sense & Nonsense about[...]
Mark Kleiman--Drugs and Drug Policy What Everyone[...[
Hart et al--Drugs Society & Human Behavior
Scheier--Handbook of Drug Use Etiology
Koob--Drugs, Addiction, & the Brain
Weaver et al.--The Sociology of American Drug Use
Hanson--Drugs and Society
Of course, the Oxford Handbook Series, Clarendon Series, and Wiley Handbooks
Now for some more specialized works:
Hobson--Dream Drugstore
J. Fish--How to Legalize Drugs
J. Miron--Drug War Crimes
M. Gray--Drug Crazy
Whitaker--Mad in America
Courtwright--Forces of Habit
Davenport-Hines--In Pursuit of Oblivion
Heyman--Addiction, a Disorder of Choice
P. Bourgois--In Search of Respect. Righteous Dopefiend. & his articles
Maher--Sexed Work (basically about gender, sex work & drug use)
Contreras--the Stickup Kids
Adler(s)--Wheeling & Dealing
(J. Ferrell, S Venkatesh, A Goffman, and others touch on but do not focus on this)
Singer & Page--The Social Value of Drug Addicts
Page--Comprehending Drug Use
Singer--Something Dangerous
Garriott--Policing Methamaphetamine
Paley-Drug War Capitalism
Duck--No Way Out
Stuart--Down & Out and Under Arrest
Boothroud--Culture on Drugs
Singer--Drugs and Development
Fabre--Criminal Prosperity
Andreas et al--Sex Drugs & Body Count(only loosely related policy book)
Fetlab-Brown--Shooting Up
Williams--Cocaine Ring
Becker--Becoming a Marijuana User
Carr--Scripting Addiction
Acker--Creating the American Junkie
Marlatt et al--Addictive Behaviors
Kuhn--Advances in Neuroscience of Addiction
Keane--What's Wrong with Addiction
Koob--Neurobiology of Addiction
Dow Schull--Addiction by Design
Naylor--Wages of Crime
(more general criminology stuff related)
Erickson et all--Crime, Punishment and Mental Illness
Ros et all--Convict Criminology
Young--The Exclusive Society
Tifft & Sullivan--Struggle to be Human
Nordstrom--Global Outlaws
Cromwell--In Their Own Words
Farrington--Labeling Theory
Marlatt et al.--Harm Reduction
Bonta et al--The Psychology of Criminal Conduct
Collins--Interaction Ritual Chains (related discussion of somatic ritualization)
Ferrell-Cultural Criminology
Pfohl--Images of Deviance
McCoy--Politics of Heroin
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