Author Topic: We're missing the real issue with drug addiction  (Read 1649 times)

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We're missing the real issue with drug addiction
« on: September 19, 2015, 01:33:09 PM »
source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-04/naughton-were-missing-the-real-issue-with-drug-addiction/6749374

(Ed. take the link to see the video at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-01/author-johann-hari-says-it-is-time-to-rethink-drug/6742110)

We're missing the real issue with drug addiction

The global drug trade appears to be thriving, and author and journalist Johann Hari says this is due to society's failure to identify the real problem behind addiction.

Despite decades of policing and anti-drug campaigns the drug trade is thriving.

The UN estimates that nearly 250 million people around the world use illicit drugs every year.

The term "War on Drugs" has been a favourite with politicians since the 1970s, but it is this hardline militaristic approach that author and journalist Johann Hari particularly objects to.

Hari is in Sydney for the Festival of Dangerous Ideas and told The Drum the lack of progress is due to society's failure to identify the real problem behind addiction.

Hari's first experience of drug addiction occurred at a very young age.

"One of my earliest memories is trying to wake up one of my relatives and not being able to. And I was too small to understand why then but as I got older I realised we had addiction in my family," he said.

"I thought I knew a lot about this subject but I suddenly realised there were loads of questions I didn't know the answer to."

The experience sent the journalist on a journey around the world researching his book, Chasing the Scream.

"I went to a dozen different countries meeting loads of different people, from a transgender crack dealer in Brownsville Brooklyn to a hit-man for the deadliest Mexican drug cartel, to the only country that has ever decriminalised all drugs," he said.

After three years of interviewing drug dealers, doctors and addicts, Hari argues it is time to rethink the political and social approach to drug addiction.

"It is not just thinking about it as disease that is wrong, it's even more basic than that," he said.

"When a Canadian doctor explained to me, if I step out of this studio now and I get hit by a truck and I broke my hip, I'll be taken to hospital and I'll be given loads of diamorphine. Diamorphine is heroin, it's much stronger than you'd ever buy on the streets ... If what we think about addiction is right, that it is caused by the chemical hooks, what should happen to those people? A lot of them should leave hospital as addicts ... it virtually never happens."

He suggests it is not so much the chemical reaction, but social isolation and an individual's unhappiness that feeds true addiction.

"Human beings have an innate need to bond and connect and when we're happy we will bond and connect with each other. But if you can't do that because you are isolated, or traumatised or beaten down by life you're going to connect with something that gives you some sense of meaning. That might be gambling, it might be pornography, it might be ice or alcohol," he said.

Hari argues that hardline drug policy focusing on punishment and depravation will not address the root cause of addiction.

"When we want to challenge addiction - this helps us to realise why the drug war approach failed so badly - if pain and isolation are major causes of addiction, inflicting more pain and more isolation on the addict doesn't only not work, it actually makes them worse," he said.

"Models based on love and compassion and support for addicts work, and models based on stigmatising and shaming addicts make them worse."

Sarah Naughton is a journalist with ABC News 24.
Over 90% of all computer problems can be traced back to the interface between the keyboard and the chair !

Tags: addiction 
 

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