Monday, July 6, 2015

The Drug War

It really hit me today how AWFUL it is that people are locked up just for using drugs.

Now, if they beat people, strangle people, abuse them, kidnap them, kill them with their car, or otherwise create a public nuisance, well those were crimes ALREADY, and I have no issue with adding time for the drug part of it.

But what got me thinking was researching marijuana for PTSD.  Right now, I often dose myself, perfectly legally, with alcohol, to avoid some really awful PTSD related shit that happens when I fall asleep.  But this is bad for my liver and overall health.  It is impossible to get skinny when you drink like I tend to.

And I was watching a veteran in a video talk about his PTSD, and then I started researching.  Turns out that the whatever it is in THC that makes you forget stuff can, with pharmacological modification, help you forget trauma too. I won't post the article, but the main research was being done in Israel.

People who are abusers--of drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, video games--ALREADY have emotional problems, and not infrequently outright trauma to deal with.  They are self medicating. They are doing what they can to make the pain go away.

How does it become morally virtuous telling them they can't make the pain go away in ways we disapprove of?  Heroin is likely less damaging in some respects than a sex or gambling addiction.  You are not wrecking other peoples marriages or bankrupting yourself and your family.

And then I read about what happened when Portugal said fuck it:

Portugal was in the middle of an “addiction epidemic,” with 1 in 100 Portuguese addicted to heroin.
But since the shift in policy, rates of STDs and drug overdoses have fallen dramatically. Since decriminalization, the Economist reports, drug-induced deaths have fallen by 80 percent, from 80 deaths in 2001 to just 16 in 2012. Meanwhile, the number of heroin addicts fell by half, in absolute terms, over the same period.
Because drug abuse is treated like a public health question instead of a criminal offense, the state focuses on treatment and harm-reduction.

People who shoot up heroin, or who smoke a doobie or two every day, are ALREADY in pain.  They are already miserable and dealing with it in a way which is dysfunctional, but the best they can come up with.

Would it not be wiser, cheaper, and more humane, to work to develop methods of dealing with trauma, with emotional pain, with social alienation, and sense of metaphysical pessimism, than simply increasing the misery of people who were already miserable, and congratulating ourselves for our virtuous rejection of others vices?

When I really grokked--as I think I have done--the sheer awfulness of sending the wounded into a new field of battle, it made me a bit sick to my stomach.

Yes, many people are childish and irresponsible.  Yes, people are stupid.  But it is my belief that given an actual alternative, most people will choose adult freedoms, and wisdom.  I just don't think most people are ever presented with a choice.  Certainly not by our media or criminal justice system, in all too many cases at least. They are on the contrary praised for their self indulgence, and the people trying to point out a better way are condemned as judgmental.

But the person who tells you you are fucking up and then how to fix it and be happy is doing you a favor.  And the person who feeds your worst impulses is codependent, and passively increasing your pain, even if you can't see it, and they won't admit it.

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