A book review in the NY Times caught my attention, When Getting High Is a Hobby, Not a Habit. It seemed especially apt since there is so much discussion now about people and their political beliefs and what it takes to change someone’s mind. I read the first two paragraphs and felt the same as the article’s author:
It doesn’t take long to get to what is perhaps the boldest and most controversial statement in Carl Hart’s new book, “Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear.” In the prologue, he writes, “I am now entering my fifth year as a regular heroin user.” In all honesty, I don’t know how to feel about this admission. It’s not easy to square all that I’ve learned about this drug with the image I also hold of Hart: a tenured professor of psychology at Columbia University, an experienced neuroscientist, a father.
Hart knows this. He knows about the discomfort his readers might feel when they encounter his full-throated endorsement of opiates for recreational use. He offers the information in a spirit of radical transparency because he believes that if “grown-ups” like him would talk freely about the role of drugs in their lives, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in, a mess brought about by our ruinous drug policies, which have had such profound — and profoundly unequal — consequences for those who fall afoul of them.
Especially the “regular heroin user” part - I just recoiled and realized I had immediate negative judgements and then thought - I don’t actually know any regular hard drug user. I know I’ve been told that my uncle is one, but he is also a psychiatrist with mental issues so I don’t really know. The majority of my “knowledge” comes from media and probably more entertainment media than anything else. And I know there are “high functioning” users but I don’t think that is discussed as much as the people who hit rock bottom. Are there “high functioning” opoid users as the book’s author states? I do believe the entire legal view of drugs and drug use needs to be rationally reviewed. I was one who told my child “Illegal drugs are just bad - don’t even try them!” because that’s what I had been told and that’s what I believed. I didn’t even question it.
I admit, I am not even tempted to do recreational drugs, I don’t even drink a beer or a glass of wine a month and I’ve never seen the point of “changing your perception of reality” maybe if I did it, I would…but I don’t have the desire to do it. But clearly a lot of other people do get a lot out of it.