‘High Price: Thinking about Drugs with a Social Conscience’ by Carl Hart

I often read about psychoactive drugs being ‘evil’. However, drugs themselves don’t have the capacity to be evil. They are a powder, not a person.

Moreover, the psychoactive effects of drugs are not fixed. As I have described in an article on this website, drug effects are not just dependent on the chemical substance itself, but also on the person and the setting in which the drug is taken.

Drugs are often used by people to cope with psychological pain in their life. For example, many people who become addicted to the pain killer heroin have been abused in their lives. Many people drink alcohol excessively to help them deal with problems in their life. Sadly, society focuses on the symptoms (e.g. drug use) rather than the underlying problem (e.g. trauma).

Drugs are often blamed for ills in our society brought about by politicians or by society itself. For example, crack cocaine was called an epidemic in America – like the Black Death in the Middle Ages – when Ronald Reagan wanted to distract attention away from all the cuts in funding to poor people he had instigated. The effects of crack cocaine were grossly exaggerated.

We’re also hypocritical about drugs. We talk about the evil of Ice (methamphetamine), yet we are quite happy to have doctors and psychiatrists prescribe ritalin to our children. These drugs are both amphetamines and exert very similar effects in the brain. If methamphetamine street dealers are evil, aren’t drug companies? And what about psychiatrists?

Anyway, I thought I’d leave you with an interesting talk by one of the leading drug researchers in the world. Carl Hart entered the field because he thought he could help protect his community from the impact of drugs. He was rather surprised by what his research taught him.

I also liked the comment that  Carl made about who profits from the war on drugs – law enforcement agencies, scientists, the National Insitute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and politicians. Think about all the money that can be gained by policing drugs (the symptoms) and researching drugs!

The talk is long but worth watching.