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The chattering classes, after all, see addicts through their politics. It is scarcely surprising too, that heroin addicts feel little compassion for their fellow junkies. They, after all, are playing the same game, and competing for the affections of paternalistic bureaucrats, and mummy figures.

But after weighing up the pro and con arguments, Darlymple stands against legalisation. He stands for reason. He rightly stands up for taxpayer slaves. Finally, Dalrymple asks that all socially correct drug clinics shut shop. You see, there really are uncomfortable moral issues on both sides.

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Mommies love to nurture their junkies. First published in Family Security Matters on December 1, This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Support Us! Like what you've read? On Line Opinion is the only Australian site where you get all sides of the story.

Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy

We don't charge, but we need your support. Subscribe or donate Become a subscriber or donor. Volunteer We always need commissioning editors and sub-editors. Contribute Got something to say? Submit an essay. As a psychiatrist specializing in drug overdoses, and as a prison doctor, he described clinical evidence that shows opiate addiction is not a disease, arguing that withdrawal from opiates is not a serious medical condition but a trivial experience.

He said that criminality causes addiction more often than addiction causes criminality. After his presentation he answered audience members' questions. Anthony Daniels, a retired doctor and psychiatrist who practiced in a British inner-city hospital and prison, uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple in most of his written works. West Huddleston talked about drug courts, which are used on the state and local level as a way to keep eligible…. This is the first…. He has thought out a plan of action that he thinks is the right thing for him to do, namely, to lose weight; he has even established a dietary routine to achieve his end.

Yet he simply cannot resist the impulse to have a strawberry milkshake, in violation of the rules that he had set out for himself. He knows better, but this rational knowledge makes no difference to his actual conduct.

Jamie Glazov

He is too weak to control his appetites and his passions. He exists in a state of internal conflict: part of him wants to do the right thing, but that part is not strong enough to conquer the part of him that wants to do the wrong thing. On the other hand, the impetuous person makes no attempt to curb and control his impulses and appetites.

He simply acts, and does so without any internal agonizing over what choice to make, and indeed without any reflection or deliberation at all. Yet, for Aristotle, the impetuous person is capable of regretting his impulsive actions once he has committed them, though perhaps only in the way that the impulsive shoplifter regrets the fact that he has been caught red-handed. This regret, by itself, cannot bring about a change in the behavior of the impetuous person; he will continue to give in to his impulses and to be punished for them — like the criminal who, as soon as he is released from jail, returns to committing the same crimes that put him there in the first place.

The impetuous person never learns.

Romancing opiates : pharmacological lies and the addiction bureaucracy

Large doses of testosterone coursing through the veins of young males will invariably lead to impetuous behavior, unless these boys have been subjected from a young age to a rigorous program aimed at habituating them to self-control, or enkrateia — and even then the success may be hit or miss. Kids who have been allowed to grow up feral cannot be expected to display self-control; self-mastery is a technique no one has taught them, so how could they have learned it? Indeed, Aristotle could rightly point out that no society has ever existed that achieved the complete elimination of the weak-willed and the impetuous, if only because each rising generation will consist of children who, by nature, lack the self-mastery that can only be achieved by the right upbringing — if even then.

Civilizing the young is one of the first duties of any society, though it is a duty that certain cultures have discharged with vastly more success than others. If there are many people in the society whose behavior is characterized by akrasia , or moral weakness, then the society, for its own good, has a right and an obligation to keep them from dangers to which they, by nature, are especially vulnerable.

Theodore Dalrymple - Romancing Opiates - May 2006 (2 of 6)

The sociological motive behind such puritanism is not a hatred of pleasure as such, but only of those pleasures that weaken the will and undermine self-control. Some pleasures are wholesome and acceptable, and should be encouraged. Other pleasures challenge not just individual self-control but the collective self-control of the whole community, threatening the ethical foundation of the society; such pleasures must be curbed.


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Lead us not into temptation, both for our own good and the welfare of the general society. T he rigid distinction between innocent and harmful pleasures happens to be a part of the cultural background of Anglo-American societies. It is of a piece with our puritan heritage. Some drugs are legal, like Xanax and Prozac; others are illegal, like heroin and cocaine. Yet, as DeGrandpre points out, during the last century or so, there have been radical shifts in the substances subjected to differential prohibition.

Once you could get cocaine in Coca-Cola at the corner drugstore albeit in trace amounts. You could buy heroin from the same company, Bayer, from which you purchased aspirin. At the same time, drug manufacturers have produced a variety of drugs that were peddled as beneficial for dealing with depression or anxiety, only to discover that many of them, like the barbiturates, could be both as addictive and as deadly as the demon drugs whose mere possession often incurs a considerable prison sentence.

DeGrandpre asks whether any of this makes sense. Are we right to blame the drugs themselves, especially considering our tendency to change our minds about which drugs are good and which are bad? More to the point, how much genuine scientific evidence do we have that it is the drug that is really responsible for addiction? Consider what would appear to be the slam-dunk case against nicotine. In , C. Still worse, consider the effects of the campaign undertaken by Food and Drug Administration Commissioner David Kessler in the s to prove that smokers became so helplessly addicted to the drug nicotine that they no longer had any control over whether or not they continue to smoke.

If smokers are powerless to resist the allure of nicotine, what is the point of urging them to stop? If DeGrandpre had limited himself to probing the paradoxes and pitfalls of our current approach to drugs, all would be well. Making distinctions between good and bad things is a necessary and basic part of our survival in the world. Of course, the specific divisions we choose to assign may be wrong and we may wish to revise them; or they can be used viciously, as in the case of Nazism or racism.

‘Romancing opiates’ - the nature of addiction - On Line Opinion - 9/12/

But it is downright bizarre to assume that there is something inherently pernicious about dividing objects into good and bad, harmless and dangerous, useful and hazardous. In short, it is wrong to continue to blame drugs. They do not cause addiction. This is precisely the conclusion that Dalrymple has led us to, though by a different route: Blame the addict, not the drug. D espite the various compelling arguments advanced in both books, this conclusion remains troubling for a number of reasons. To begin with, let us examine the case of two remarkable individuals, one cited by DeGrandpre, the other by Dalrymple.

Yet, as Dalrymple notes, Wilberforce died an opium addict. Halsted and Wilberforce certainly do not fit into the categories of the weak-willed or impetuous man. Can their addictions be summarily dismissed as mere self-indulgence, or do they offer evidence that certain substances possess an occult hold over even the strongest of us? Earlier we discussed the case of the weak-willed fellow who set out to follow a rigorous diet plan, but found himself seduced by the temptation of a strawberry milkshake.

When dealing with our lapsed dieter and his strawberry milkshake, our common sense tells us that it would be silly to blame some sinister power in the milkshake.

see Instead, it makes more sense to say that he lacked the strength of will; or, as Aristotle would say, that he was weak. But can the same thing be said about other substances, like opium, cocaine, or alcohol? It makes no sense to blame it on his lack of willpower, since he was strong enough to abstain from wine completely, and, as he said, quite easily. We can understand a man who abstains from drinking strawberry milkshakes — but what about a man who cannot drink strawberry milkshakes in moderation, and who goes on a weekend-long strawberry milkshake binge?

Is such a man even imaginable?


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  • If one finds pleasure in a strawberry milkshake at all, one can find it only in moderation: drink three of them in a row as an experiment if you doubt the truth of this observation.