What's worse than drug addiction? The cruelty of drug treatments. | Maia Szalavitz

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Drug testing is like a big business and one of the key people in the big business of drug testing is a guy who once testified in favor of one of the most abusive rehabs in American history. And he now is like a big wig in the drug testing field. And this program literally tortured people. They would like hold the kids down on the floor, until they wet or soiled themselves, as a punishment. They would punch them. They would sleep deprive them for like 48 or 72 hours. They would make them go through a spanking machine. I mean it was all kinds of really stupid, horrible, traumatic—and they would constantly emotionally attack these kids in order to break them. 50,000 American kids went through this program, which was known as Straight Incorporated. And the people who enabled it, the people who said this was the best program are still out there trying to sell monitoring for people who use drugs. And I find that offensive. I just think that if you have done something that is so harmful to people, that left many families broken and left at least thousands of people with PTSD, that you probably should not be having anything to do with anybody who uses drugs.

Addiction is a very human problem and this is often why people propose and some people benefit from a spiritual solution to it. That’s not to say we should treat medicine and medical conditions as spirituality, but the reality is that addiction and depression and a lot of other mental illnesses do often involve struggling with that potential question.

And so it is not going to be the case that you can just put a brain implant in and addiction it will go away without a big chunk of yourself going away. So the Chinese are horribly experimenting with this horrific brain surgery where they ablate, i.e. burn out, the nucleus accumbens, which is basically the brain region that provides pleasure and motivation, and they think that this is actually going to cure addiction. Of course, what happens is you get people who are just anhedonic, who relapsed because now they have even less.

So this idea that like we could use a drug that would block the effects of the drug of choice is generally misguided because the problem isn’t the drug of choice. The problem is: why do you need that drug, and why do those drugs appeal to you, and why you are trying to get out? Why you are trying to escape? And what you need in your life in order to feel comfortable and safe and productive? So I don’t think that there will be future weird cures like that. But what I do think is interesting about the future of drugs is that we can make better drugs.

Part of the reason that prohibition is collapsing at the moment is because of what are called new psychoactive substances or legal highs. And basically you can make a new recreational drug by sort of tweaking molecules of the other ones, and it will be technically legal because it hasn’t been made illegal. And what this reveals is that our system for making drugs illegal is completely irrational and based on 19th century prejudices. It has nothing to do with science. And if we apply science to this problem and look at—well, people are always going to want to alter their consciousness in some ways, how do we reduce the harm associated with this? How do we create drugs or medications that will allow people to feel safe and comfortable in the world but not be so distracting or problematic that they will not be able to connect with other people, they won’t be so out of it?

So I think the future of drugs is better drugs. I don’t think the future of drugs will be—or, you know, virtual reality; these kinds of things could all be very interesting, but I think that so long as people ask the question, “Why am I here?” and so long as people need each other to love and connect, we are going to have people who want to find ways to make that work better.
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20 thoughts on “What's worse than drug addiction? The cruelty of drug treatments. | Maia Szalavitz”

  1. All I know is drug treatment is rarely effective but that it makes a shit load of money. This is a more complex issue and everything has a side effect.

  2. Eradicating cash money from the system (all major currencies at once), would have people shifting to less interesting currencies.That would leave traces, so soon that path would dry up. It wouldn't give a free chance for cryptocurrencies to thrive (as those are traceable),but gold/silver/diamonds would rise in value. The move to eradicate cash, would be a good move on the war on drugs. So the whole black circuit would be overflowed with all types of valuable alternatives, even drugs itself, as means o 'payment'. I wonder, in what way that would make 'the war on drugs' easier, or harder, anyone?!

  3. Are drug rehabs this bad sometimes?? I'm glad people are speaking out about it if that's the case!

  4. Expose that shit, war on drugs is bullshit and causes a cascade of negativity on humans!

  5. When you condemn harmless marijuana but advertise lethal alcohol then any thinking person just ignores your hypocricy. Sadly they then often do try dangerous substances because your superstitions obscured the message.

  6. The reason we lost the war on drugs is because of all of the people fighting on the side of the drugs. It's not the girl in the junior high stairwell saying "It'll make you feel good." that is the problem, it's the pandering insecure people who don't even do drugs who condone drug use in the people they care about even if those people would gladly risk the panderers' safety and security to get high. People who abuse drugs abuse everyone who cares about them and should be treated appropriately.

  7. Very wise words.
    No amount of legislation or enforcement will ever stop people wanting to change how they feel
    It’s part of the human condition and we have to accept it.
    Why should the State have any say over what I choose to put into my body FFS?
    If I know the risks and am willing to take them it’s NOBODY ELSE’S BUSINESS

  8. Straight Incorporated was a jewish effort to do the work of their father.
    "You have not begun to appreciate the real depth of our guilt. We are intruders. We are disturbers. We are subverters. We have taken your natural world, your ideals, your destiny, and played havoc with them.” – Marcus Eli Ravage, Jewish author, quote from January 1928 issue of Century Magazine

    "We Jews, we, the destroyers, will remain the destroyers for ever. Nothing that you will do will meet our needs and demands. We will for ever destroy because we need a world of our own, a God-world, which it is not in your nature to build." – Maurice Samuels, Jewish author, quote from You Gentiles

    "In 1492, Chemor, Chief Rabbi of Spain, wrote to the Grand Sanhedrin, which had its seat in Constantinople, for advice, when a Spanish law threatened expulsion.2 This was the reply:

    'Beloved brethren in Moses, we have received your letter in which you tell us of the anxieties and misfortunes which you are enduring. We are pierced by as great pain to hear it as yourselves.

    The advice of the Grand Satraps and the Rabbis is the following:

    1. As for what you say that the King of Spain3 obliges you to become Christians: do it, since you cannot do otherwise.

    2. As for what you say about the command to despoil you of your property: make your sons merchants that they may despoil, little by little, the Christians of theirs.

    3. As for what you say about making attempts on your lives: make your sons doctors and apothecaries, that they may take away Christians' lives.

    4. As for what you say of their destroying your synagogues: make your sons canons and clerics in order that they may destroy their churches.

    5. As for the other vexations you complain of: arrange that your sons become advocates and lawyers, and see that they always mix in affairs of State, that by putting Christians under your yoke you may dominate the world and be avenged on them.

    6. Do not swerve from this order that we give you, because you will find by experience that, humiliated as you are, you will reach the actuality of power.

    (Signed) Prince of the Jews of Constantinople'"–L. Fry, Waters Flowing Eastward: The War Against the Kingship of Christ, TBR Books, Washington, D. C., (2000), pp. 73-74.

  9. why am i here? joyful service with christ on the cross. i gave up a few valuable things and risked alot for that too! not that i havent given into temptation in the past but if you fall get back up because losers stay down.

  10. So the Chinese can't tolerate blood, gore or depictions of the dead, but they're perfectly fine with tampering with the human genome and irrevocably mutilating people's brains, just because it might work.

  11. I am only alive because I was able to get off legal drugs. It was tough as the medical proffession forces more drugs onto you. Most doctors are no more trustworthy than a second hand car sales person.

  12. Trauma and Toxic/Core/Chronic Shame both play a big, big role in driving addictive numbing out of painful emotions. Teach addicts self compassion instead of self hatred. Change the drug laws and stop stigmatising drug abusers. Allow addicted people to regain their innate human dignity, rather than trying to further punish and Shame them with punitive harsh laws and punishment.

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