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Heroin addiction isn't an illness...and we should stop spending millions 'treating' it
Daily Mail ^ | 08/18/07 | Theodore Dalrymple

Posted on 08/19/2007 7:34:56 PM PDT by ventanax5

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To: dighton
Thanks for the ping. This is, of course, heresy - I was for some years a drug and alcohol counselor in what was a very active venue - and coming from anyone but Dalrymple I might dismiss it out of hand. I shall have to give the matter some serious thought. It's the sort of thing you think about but you don't want to admit lest you be considered unsympathetic or even unprofessional.

There is, I suspect, a phenomenon that has been labeled an "addictive personality"; that is, an individual subject to temptation toward activities that are temporarily satisfying, distracting, and eventually overwhelming. This might be gambling as well as opiates. It might be spending. It might even be sex.

No one that I know, and I have known dozens of heroin addicts - no one who really wanted to kick it failed to do so. Many fell back for the same reasons that they fell in the first place. Heroin withdrawal is, I would agree, exaggerated. Pulmonary edema isn't.

There are, incidentally, two drug classes withdrawal from which can cause death. Heroin isn't one of them. Alcohol and barbiturates are. I stopped counseling for unrelated reasons before the methamphetamine phenomenon came along and so cannot speak with any experience in that regard, but I did deal with two PCP users, and the damage done to them by that drug was no illusion - they were no longer quite human. Frightening stuff.

No other comment beside that - this is a matter I'm going to have to give some thought to. I won't say Dalrymple is right...yet...but I've seldom known him to be wrong.

41 posted on 08/20/2007 1:04:33 AM PDT by Billthedrill
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To: Rembrandt

If the treatment were sequester and detox, that’s onr thing. Furnishing clean needles or Methadone, no.

42 posted on 08/20/2007 3:05:37 AM PDT by steve8714 (Spiderpig..Spiderpig..does whatever a spiderpig does...can someone get that out of my head?)
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To: Old_Mil

Perhaps you are right, but our country would never tolerate this kind of punishment.

43 posted on 08/20/2007 4:04:39 AM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace
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That’s interesting. Has drug usage decreased as a result of the WOD?

44 posted on 08/20/2007 4:06:03 AM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace
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btw, drugs are everywhere in every town and are very available right now.

45 posted on 08/20/2007 4:06:38 AM PDT by ItisaReligionofPeace
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To: ventanax5
Sure, it is an illness. Actually, the brain is changed:

The classic description of a drug’s effect on the brain is centered on the reward system, in particular, neurons that project ventrally from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the nucleus accumbens. Those neurons release dopamine, and alcohol and drugs of abuse excite them directly or indirectly. When dopamine is delivered to the nucleus accumbens, it stimulates pleasure.

The trouble starts when, over time, this system starts to erode and develop tolerance. The same amount of drug induces smaller dopamine responses, VTA neurons can shrink, synaptic connections decay, receptor densities change, and the expression of certain genes increases, particularly those related to anxiety and depression. This, according to George Koob at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, Calif., is the “dark side of addiction,” when an addict continues using a drug merely to ameliorate the bad feelings of being addicted.

(Requires subscription)

46 posted on 08/20/2007 5:25:44 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: Billthedrill

You wrote: There is, I suspect, a phenomenon that has been labeled an “addictive personality”; that is, an individual subject to temptation toward activities that are temporarily satisfying, distracting, and eventually overwhelming.

“high levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter, are more common in sensation seekers.

Other neurotransmitters, including serotonin, may also play a part. Low serotonin activity may account for a lack of inhibition and impulsiveness.”

47 posted on 08/20/2007 5:33:14 AM PDT by AdmSmith
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To: ItisaReligionofPeace; al baby
treatment programs are 20x better than the criminalization of drugs.

Agreed, in part. In order for treatment programs to work, the afflicted person must be willing.

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (drugs) - that our lives had become unmanageable.

48 posted on 08/20/2007 5:39:20 AM PDT by CholeraJoe ("Is the lion burning?")
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To: Sols; cowdog77
He can only hope that society will pay him the favor of having faith in him and offer him the opportunity to become a productive person again.

There is the crux of the matter. In the McCourt family (Frank, author of "Angela's Ashes," vs. Malachy, also an author and pub owner) it has led top a family feud. Frank says, "How can this alcoholism be a disease, when one can simply stop? So, stop." Malachy is a fervent 12-stepper and says, "You can't stop." Although he has.

So addiction might be the search for love and acceptance by behaving in a way that guarantees loathing and rejection. Makes perfect sense. Somewhere.

49 posted on 08/20/2007 5:44:08 AM PDT by Kenny Bunk ( Teddy K's 'Ďmmigration Reform Act' of 1965. ˇGrácias, Borracho!)
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To: ventanax5
that heroin addiction is an "illness". This view serves the interests both of the addicts who wish to continue their habit while placing the blame for their behaviour elsewhere

Call it an "illness" or an "allergy" it is simple fact that people's brains are wired differently. I know a lady who smoked all year long at school and spent the summers a non-smoker. She never could understand the "addiction" of smoking. Definitely an exceptional person.

50 posted on 08/20/2007 6:01:56 AM PDT by bkepley
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To: csmusaret
Nobody calls nicotine addiction a disease.

One of the primary motivations for a smoker to light up is to relieve a condition of dis-ease.
Unfortunately it is an ouroboros-like solution. problem->cure->problem

51 posted on 08/20/2007 6:28:44 AM PDT by kanawa (Don't go where you're looking, look where you're going.)
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To: al baby

Your post is a day-brightener.

52 posted on 08/20/2007 6:31:42 AM PDT by sitetest (If Roe is not overturned, no unborn child will ever be protected in law.)
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To: dighton
I’m not sure what to think, beyond “God save me from more.”


53 posted on 08/20/2007 7:13:14 AM PDT by aculeus
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To: Old_Mil; ItisaReligionofPeace
Australian citizen Nguyen Tuong Van, 25, was excuted in Singapore on Friday for drug trafficking after he was visited at the prison in Singapore by family members, according to the Associated Press.

...there's a reason why Singapore doesn't have the sort of drug or crime problem we do.

Singapore's heroin problem was in the same ballpark as the US in the mid 90's (latest comparative figures I could find):

"The GOS [Government of Singapore] nonetheless is concerned about the increase in addiction rates and recidivism among drug offenders who have undergone treatment. There are currently about 9,000 addicts [Singapore's population was about 3 million] undergoing rehabilitation in Singapore treatment centers, the same number as in 1995."


"There were an estimated 980,000 hardcore heroin addicts in the United States in 1999, 50 percent more than the estimated 630,000 hardcore addicts in 1992."



The Netherlands has extensive demand reduction programs and low­threshold medical services for addicts, who are also offered drug rehabilitation programs. Authorities believe such programs reach about 70­80 percent of the country's 25,000 hard­drug users. [Netherlands population was about 15.1 million then]



Crunching the State Dept. numbers - Singapore had almost twice the rate of heroin addiction as the Netherlands. And Singapore's figure only takes into account the addicts under treatment, whereas the figure for Holland is the estimate of the total number of addicts.

And then there's Iran:

Iran has executed more than 10,000 narcotics traffickers in the last decade;"

"Iran has the highest proportion of heroin addicts in the world and a growing Aids problem."

54 posted on 08/20/2007 8:50:46 AM PDT by Ken H
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Uhh, going to jail qualifies as "hitting bottom".

Uhh, that's my point.

For someone whose only crime is using, or perhaps selling, illegal drugs, do you really think that incarceration is a benefit in learning to become a good citizen?

55 posted on 08/20/2007 9:29:17 AM PDT by Trailerpark Badass
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To: webstersII

The Nannys’ have put the answer of government intervention upon us.

I say stay out of it altogether. It IS about choices and accepting responsibility for those choices. Let the cards fall just as they have done to smokers. No one denies addicts medical care but we as a society should not be required to go beyond. If a drug program is in order—someone will have to pay for it and it should not be taxpayer money. It is no disability in my eyes.

56 posted on 08/20/2007 9:39:42 AM PDT by Snoopers-868th
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And I got to watch my father shake cigarettes after 25 years of smoking. He said, even years after quitting, that when someone else lights up “it smells like candy to me”.

I quit smoking after 25 years 4 years ago. No real desire to smoke again, but if a doctor told me I had 6 months to live the first thing I'd do is go buy a pack.

57 posted on 08/20/2007 9:43:55 AM PDT by cryptical
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To: Trailerpark Badass

many who could be saved from “hitting bottom.”

I would propose that many have to hit bottom inorder to be saved.........................

58 posted on 08/20/2007 10:02:55 AM PDT by PeterPrinciple
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To: TheStickman

interesting thread & comments

59 posted on 08/20/2007 10:08:09 AM PDT by visualops (
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To: ari-freedom
The question is what is our society willing to tolerate and when will people learn to be responsible for themselves instead of expecting everything to come their way?

That just isn't the direction our society is moving in. Everything is sliding away from personal responsibility toward group responsibility or third-party blame.

OSHA/MSHA make sure that your personal safety is your employers' responsibility. We expect the majority of our health care expenses to be our employers' responsibility. Our safety when driving a car is a combination of the manufacturers' and the government's responsibility, not our driving.

It's pretty much the case everywhere. We have less responsibility, and with it, less power.

60 posted on 08/20/2007 10:11:26 AM PDT by TChris (The Republican Party is merely the Democrat Party's "away" jersey - Vox Day)
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