An extreme but accurate analogy

By Joe-(5-HTP) · Aug 25, 2015 · ·
  1. Joe-(5-HTP)
    Addicts of 'hard' drugs like heroin/meth/crack are often sufferers of abuse. Physical and sexual abuse leads to psychological trauma. When they use a drug, they feel comfort and satisfaction for perhaps even the first time in living memory. Also it finally allows their mind, albiet temporarily, escapism from the symptoms of their trauma.

    Obviously this is a disastrous idea because addiction will only compound and exacerbate their issues in the long run, if it doesn't kill them. However, it's hard to see the validity in responding to this predicament by suggesting they should be incarcerated.

    People like Peter Hitchens represent the view that drug addicts are not damaged vulnerable people but morally defective deserving of condemnation and incarceration. I do think we have the makings of a classic left (defend the vulnerable minority) vs right (hate the vulnerable minority) political movement here. In fact I'm surprised it's not yet being spun in that way.

    Anyway, to my extreme but accurate analogy. Drug addiction is in many cases a symptom of abuse. The current drug laws punish people for what is a symptom of their abuse. It's punishing people for being abused.

    Consider what happens in some theocratic Islamist societies. When a female is raped, she might be stoned to death because being raped is considered an act of adultery on her part.

    This analogy may be extreme, but is it really on a completely different spectrum to what happens with the drug laws in the west?

    And is the analogy really that extreme? We may not stone addicts to death, but their interaction with our 'justice' system often leads to their suicide or death because of adulterated substances or anything else for which responsibility can be laid at the feet of prohibition. We may not kill our addicts by throwing stones, but we orchestrate a system which results in their deaths nonetheless. The more vile elements in our media also propagate the view that they essentially bring this upon themselves, and deserve it. This also happens in Islamist countries with adulterers.

    So there is at last some level of moral equivalency which we may have to face, even though we in the west are so good at keeping our immorality locked behind a door in a far away place where we never have to see it, or even know that it exists.

    Just in case anyone wanted to ignore my argument by attaching some label to me, I might as well say I'm not a cultural relativist at all and I do regard the freedoms afforded to citizens in the west to be greater than elsewhere. Hopefully you see that this criticism remains despite that.

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  1. Waiting For The Fall
    I concur. The majority of meth addicts I have known (quite a few), did suffer abuse, loneliness and depravity as children. They still hold onto childhood fears. Add a lack of nurturing during that same period and you will find they are also lacking in social skills. They don't necessarily want to use the drug for the euphoria it may bring, but simply to dull their brains enough where they are, as Pink Floyd embraced in song, "Comfortably Numb."

    By not addressing the real issues of drug addiction, our society is less advanced than people portray it.
  2. Gradient
    You're absolutely right regarding the association between former abuse and future addiction. To buttress your point: a recent neuroimaging study that's about to be published revealed that there are very particular differences in region activation that distinguish addicts who've suffered some form of abuse in their past (physical, sexual, emotional, neglect) and addicts who report no such past experience. Also, there were gross morphological differences; victims of maltreatment exhibited reduced hippocampal volumes, for example. In other words, there appears to be brain areas that are more active and/or shrink in people addicted to a substance who've suffered abuse of some kind than in those who haven't. The lab is now moving to differences in circuit activation - specifically the mesocortical dopaminergic circuit, a likely critical candidate that contributes to an inability to stop ingesting a substance.

    Their statistics, derived from ~2000 addicts that were imaged in fMRI, showed that 40-45% of the addicts they encountered had some form of abuse - and these people had significantly more difficulty achieving abstinence. Past abuse could largely predict their ability to quit. I'd speculate that these numbers likely under-report the true proportion of addicts who've been maltreated; these are people who turned to the clinic for help in quitting, so it's not likely a perfect sample of the population.

    I'd no idea Peter Hitchens has this crass perspective on addiction. Now I see he's debated this topic with some interesting characters. Has he written similarly regarding other mental illnesses, i.e. does he think depression is real? Such a sanctimonious perspective from someone who has zero apparent insight to provide regarding this matter. Strong opinion with no credibility.
  3. Joe-(5-HTP)
    I've not come across his views on other mental illnesses. Thankfully! Lol.

    That's interesting about the neuroscience coming to understand this phenomenon. Hopefully it leads to some sort of therapy.

    As I understand it, psychologically the addiction temporarily achieves a state of contentment, but only by burying the trauma. The high is not only tempting for its pleasurable qualities, but for the relief it provides from the psychological trauma inflicted by abuse. Once tolerance kicks in and the addiction goes into full swing, the withdrawals have synergy with the trauma in some pretty disastrous ways.

    But of course to Peter Hitchens, this is adequately described as someone just taking drugs, not because they have any sort of problem, but 'because they like it'. Fuck that guy! The wrong brother died.

    Of course he's doing it because he writes for the daily mail who like to present lower class white people reasons to hate on others, be it foreigners or drug addicts, because that's the only way the right wing can convince people of low income to vote for less taxes for wealthy people. Ironically of course the desire of low class white people to hate is a symptom of the poverty conservatives are responsible for. They create the social disease and profit from it.. But of course it's the left wing with their entitlement culture which does that.. Nice world we got going on here. Lol. Sorry that turned into a bit of a rant.. but it's my blog after all.
  4. Calliope
    Can't help but think Chris Hitchens' excessive drinking, smoking and hedonism might have some connection to his younger brother Peter's inability to think with any clarity or sympathy on this issue. Particularly as Chris was a much more talented, celebrated and famous writer and thinker.

    Peter is completely inconsistent on both drugs and mental illness and/or things like ADHD and dyslexia. He rejects addiction as a real thing claiming there is no 'objective scientific' proof it exists. Ditto ADHD and dyslexia (which are "disreputable, unscientific rubbish," he says). But then he turns around and argues that cannabis should be criminal because it constitutes a grave risk for developing psychosis or schizophrenia!

    He claims to have not been drunk since he was 15, but still drinks. He takes caffeine too, every day the revolting depraved stim freak! Stimulants are evil, corrupting by providing rewards without requiring work. But his hopped-up-on-coffee blithering in second rate newspapers is different right? That is a real man doing god's work by the sweat of his own brow. One wonders about the possibility of caffeine triggered psychosis in this dipshit.
  5. beentheredonethatagain
    No sorry but the addicts that i have known were not abused as children.

    Some of the girls have but i would say only a small percent
  6. Joe-(5-HTP)
    Well, I think I'll take the testimony of addiction treatment facility personnel over the handful of people you happen to have come into contact with.
  7. Calliope
    Well there is also abuse and abuse. Not many people get through childhood without experiencing trauma one way or another. And many people simply do not openly admit to the bad things that have happened to them. It is a rare man who is able to reveal having been sexually molested by an adult male as a child, or to even conceptualize sexual contact with a female adult at a young age as being abuse. But these things are abuse and they are taumatic. So the fact you think the addicts you know weren't abused may well be a result of that not of their not having been.

    And in many cultures, like ours in north america and western europe, the use of violence and yelling and belittling children as methods of 'teaching' are hardly unusual. Those are abuse as well. A child who is hit by an adult learns fear and self doubt and anger and that adults cannot be trusted. It might not be satanic cult sexual abuse, but it is trauma and changes a person's ability to care for themself in the ways that help prevent drug experimentation turning to abuse turning to addiction.

    I'm an addict and didn't actually experience much at all in the way of mistreatment as a kid. So yeah there are addicts who didn't. Joe never denied that. And as Gradient's post shows, there is good evidence that addicts who have been abused are affected by this is ways that make recovering from addiction much more difficult.

    At some level we all use drugs to comfort ourselves; to dismiss drug use as mere self-indulgent bad behaviour like peter hitchens does is completely heartless not to mention counterproductive since it further reduces the possibilities and likelyhood of addicts who want to get clean from being able to.
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