Abolish the DEA
The Problem with 12-Step Groups
I recently watched an episode of the Canadian series "Remedy" in which the perennially troubled character Griffin finally goes to a 12-step meeting, where he's surprised and reassured to see the hospital's new chief of staff at the podium testifying about her own over-reliance on painkillers. Griffin grins wistfully from the back row, realizing now that everybody has problems and he's not alone, etc. etc. It's meant to be a heart-warming scene, of course, this narrative of the secular sinner coming home and getting real before his similarly drug-duped colleagues. And yet I always feel philosophically obliged to steel my heart against such scenes because this is an American trope, this secular homecoming: a trope that is based on America's (and hence the world's) muddled views about inanimate objects that we have demonized with the politically created epithet of "drugs."
Of course, those who have been born and bred on Christian Science drug warrior propaganda, censorship and substance demonization will ask me "What's not to like?" when they see such scenes.
The problem is that 12-step groups act according to assumptions that are highly debatable or just plain false, simply because such assumptions completely ignore the role that the Drug War plays in skewing our attitude toward substances. By ignoring the Drug War, which is the real villain of the piece, the 12-step group turns the substance misuser into the bad guy, the protagonist/antagonist, the one who must come home to the Mother Church, and how? By becoming "clean." And what does "clean" mean? It means that you have foresworn psychoactive medicine entirely (with the exception of the highly addictive meds that are prescribed by pill-mill psychiatry and upon which 1 in 4 American women are currently dependent). It means, in fact, that you must practice the precepts of Christian Science when it comes to mood and cognition (albeit while making a hypocritical allowance for the emotion-tamping pills of Big Pharma).
But I'd better back up. Most Americans don't even understand why the Drug War is responsible for addiction in the first place. Answer: It is responsible because it outlaws hundreds of godsend psychoactive plants while creating a black market that incentivizes the sale of the most addictive meds possible. What's more, it justifies this crackdown on the implicit assumption that there is no good use for psychoactive medicine but to produce "highs" and for folks to "get wasted." The facts are quite different, however. Human beings have used psychoactive substances since prehistoric times to obtain spiritual transcendence and a new way of seeing the world and to improve their mental powers. Contrary to Drug War dogma, the use of psychoactive substances is not usually pathological, but rather the expression of the most basic of human impulses, to find greater meaning in life and to find self-fulfilment by removing the shackles of one's ordinary misperceptions, which for most of us stand in the way of our self-improvement and self-knowledge on a daily basis.
We see then that 12-step programs constitute a kind of secular religion. We can prove this by stating the highly debatable dogma which 12-step programs accept:
1) It is morally good to be free of all psychoactive substances.
2) The search for pharmacologically aided transcendence is pathological.
3) Mother Nature's psychoactive plant medicines are not good (as God himself said in the Christian bible) but rather they are so many snares to trap unsuspecting human beings.
4) Human beings are powerless in the face of evil substances and must confess that powerlessness as the first step in healing.
I do not believe in the dogma outlined above. That is not my religion. That is not my faith.
1) I do not find it morally good to avoid Mother Nature's psychoactive plant medicines -- in fact, I find it superstitious, dogmatic and unscientific.
2) I therefore do not find a search for pharmacological transcendence to be anything but natural.
3) Nor do I believe that psychoactive plants and fungi are a snare, but rather that they are on the Earth for a reason, and not just to be the inspiration for the creation of pseudo-Christian morality plays in the time of a Drug War.
4) And if human beings are powerless when it comes to psychoactive substances, that's only because the drug war has outlawed the hundreds of psychoactive godsends of mother nature that could help wean them from their poison. The Drug War has rendered addicts powerless. They are not powerless in some intrinsic way.
Besides, in a world where we had full and well-publicized disclosure about all "drugs" (including objective and subjective usage reports and notes on avoiding addiction -- on everything from Big Pharma anti-depressants to magic mushrooms) intelligent users would be empowered to avoid the highly addictive pills that the dealers are incentivized to sell thanks to prohibition. You can bet that these intelligent users would also avoid using the habit-forming Big Pharma meds when they find out that they'll end up having to take them for a lifetime, thus turning themselves into eternal patients and wards of the healthcare state. (If the users are not intelligent, that's a problem with our education system, not with an amoral boogieman that we think of superstitiously as an evil "drug.")
Getting back to supposedly troubled Griffin for a moment: he is apparently not even an addict at the time he attends the session in question -- but his girlfriend, under the influence of drug war assumptions, has "pegged" him as the addictive type (merely because he's "had truck" with evil substances in the past) and therefore insists that he attend the 12-step program.
This is how far we will go to avoid naming the real problem when it comes to addiction: namely the "Drug War." We'll imagine a whole category of pathological human beings instead, the "addictive type," and pretend that the Drug War's crack down on spiritual ascendancy and substance research has nothing to do with the situation at all. Instead, we turn the supposed addiction problem into a moral drama that feels "right" to us erstwhile Christians because it re-creates the parable of the prodigal son, without any divisive references to deity, and gives us a new revival tent that we can come to, complete with confession booth transformed into a public podium.
Don't get me wrong: I have no problem with folks attending a 12-step program, for the same reason that I have no problem with folks attending an Episcopal Church, or the Church of the Brethren, or St. Paul's even. It's none of my business what religion you follow.
But until we legalize psychoactive substances -- and the research of the same in order to promulgate safe use information -- we have no business talking about "addictive types," let alone trying to reform them by turning them into stealth Christian Scientists.
What's my alternative to 12-step groups?
I propose ending the war on psychoactive plant medicine and then turning psychiatrists into pharmacologically savvy shaman, psychologically savvy empaths who are enabled to use any and all psychoactive plants or fungi that they think will conduce, as part of a strategic protocol, to achieving the goals of their patients, whether that goal be "getting off" of a particular substance, ending alcoholism, or simply gaining self-knowledge and a new direction in life.
Meanwhile, let's refrain from moralizing the supposed "Drug Problem," for that means blaming the victim, the victim of the unscientific and choice-limiting Drug War.
As for the supposed intractability of alcoholism and other addictions, how dare we pronounce ex cathedra on that subject until we have freed psychiatry to advisedly use the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet? Such addictions are intractable? How would we know that in an age of the strict prohibition of Mother Nature's pharmacy? That's like me claiming that the flu can't be treated, merely because I don't happen to have any antiviral medicines in my particular medicine cabinet.
The DEA and Crack Cocaine
A couple of decades ago, I used to scoff at the idea that the US government would purposefully introduce a highly addictive form of cocaine into LA. But the more one studies Drug War history, the less improbable that claim appears. Such a governmental action would not be unprecedented after all. The British government introduced a particularly addictive form of opium into China in the 1900s. Moreover the DEA has been lying about psychoactive medicine since its inception in 1973, and continues to lie to this very day, claiming in the teeth of millennia of evidence that such substances have no therapeutic value (even potentially), notwithstanding the fact that the use of such medicine has inspired the founding of entire religions. So it's clear that the DEA will go to great lengths to save its jobs, to the point of abjectly lying about matters of fact.
For those who still think that the DEA has America's best interests at heart, we have only to remember that the Drug War was founded by Chinese racists in 1914 and that when Nixon took up the cause in the '70s, he had no interest whatsoever in America's health but rather in attacking his political enemies. That's why his drug war punished mere possession with felonies, because he was not out to help anyone, but rather to remove them from the voting rolls. Still not convinced? Well, DEA Chief John C. Lawn was certainly not thinking about public health when he ordered his agents to spray marijuana plants with paraquat, a weed killer that has subsequently been shown to cause Parkinson's Disease.
So, did the US government purposefully introduce crack cocaine into LA? I have no smoking gun to show you, but I can say this: such an outrage would not be out of character with the way that governments have been shown to behave under the pernicious influence (and political cover) of the minority-targeting Drug War.
When a child snickers before Michelangelo's statue of David and says that the statue is "nekkid," we know that the child is immature. But American politicians behave the exact same way when it comes to so-called "drugs." They snicker cynically before higher states of consciousness (states of consciousness that have fostered entire religions) and dismiss it as getting "high" or getting "wasted." What's worse, in the latter case, Americans think they have discovered some new truth about substances, that there's this thing out there called "drugs" that are evil... when what they've really discovered is that America is immature, to the point of not being able to live sanely with the very flora that grows unbidden around us. Americans cannot imagine any way to use spiritual substances except in a cynical and hedonist fashion, as part of some scheming capitalistic transaction, and rather than blaming themselves or unfettered capitalism for this immaturity, they proclaim a new law of the land: that drugs are evil and that they must be eradicated around the globe. It's as if that immature child never grew up and declared that nudity in art is evil and must be eradicated everywhere around the globe.
There is no drug problem. There is a problem with America's attitude toward drugs. That problem is immaturity, cynicism and hedonism, and the insistence that every transaction be considered through the calculating lens of capitalism. Why do we blame these American problems on the scapegoat "drugs"? Because otherwise America would have to transform for the better in order to live wisely with the flora that surrounds us. We'd have to prioritize education and permit true religious freedom. Instead, we blame all our problems on inanimate substances, drugs -- and worse yet, we insist that the entire world follow our superstitious example under pain of economic and sociopolitical blackmail. Sadly, all nations are happy to follow suit. It was America, after all, that claimed we had a basic right to nature under Natural Law. If a nation so founded should dare to come in between its citizens and the flora that grows at their very feet, what need have less enlightened countries to stand up for common sense, let alone dictatorships, which will gladly take America's lead and crack down on the modern boogieman of "drugs" in order to enhance their despotic control over their citizens.
And what better way to enhance tyranny than to control how (and how much) citizens are allowed to think and feel by denying them the God-given bounty of Mother Nature's psychoactive plant medicine? It is, in fact, the ultimate tyranny. Why merely control what your citizens can think when you can control how and how much they can both think and feel? It's the ultimate power grab of government, rendered acceptable by the one country that should have known better given its birth under natural law: the USA.
Why the Drug War is Worse than a Religion
As a white kid who grew up listening to so-called black music in the '70s (not just the crossover hits of Labelle but the deep album cuts such as "Isn't it a Shame" and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow") I would occasionally experience the awkward phenomenon of having my white friends snicker or break into what for me was unwelcome parody when I made the mistake of playing one of my favorite soul hits during a get-together at my place. It actually made them uncomfortable to hear singers expressing so much emotion. Sure, they had grown to like "Lady Marmalade," but when Labelle really let herself go, emotionally speaking, on such lengthy ballads as "Isn't it a Shame," complete with melodious moaning and impassioned scatting, my white friends began to squirm in their seats like so many grade-schoolers, despite the fact that their college days were already long behind them.
In that reaction, I think we can see the real motivation behind America's drug war: the white man's insistence that we all be as emotionally restrained as he is, that we "let ourselves go" a little, perhaps, in the same way that my friends could find it in their hearts to enjoy "Lady Marmalade," but that we never really truly "shake it like we mean it" in this life, as Labelle most obviously did in "Isn't it a Shame?" It strikes me, moreover, that this "white reaction" to soul music is "all of a piece" with the Caucasian preference in Shakespearean times for behavior to be "meet" and "seemly" and to not offend the sensibilities of the community with any emotional excesses. In short, the white race, if we must call it so, has placed such a premium upon thought (which is, indeed, the very touchstone of its own existence, according to Descartes) that it has come to fear any forays into the long-since unfamiliar lands of unbridled emotion.
With this backstory in mind, the Drug War may be seen as the enforcement, not simply of a religion, but of a whole way of "being in the world," a whole way of approaching life. We must be aggressive and ambitious, yes, and so the use of caffeine is not only legal but encouraged. However, we must not be TOO aggressive or ambitious (after all, that would not be "meet" and "seemly" and it might even empower the user to promote the overthrow of the uptight status quo) and so the use of cocaine must be punished. In this way, the Drug War turns Aristotle's Golden Mean into the law of the land. "Dance if you must," it cries, "but never, never, shake it like you really mean it." Of course, even the Drug Warrior agrees that occasional self-forgetfulness is necessary in this life, and so we are free -- and even encouraged -- to use alcohol and beer. However, we must never achieve this self-forgetfulness with the help of a substance that inspires us to question the very thought-centric nature of the society in which we live (and so psychedelic use will be punished). Americans have to be uptight by law, and the last thing that the drug warrior wants is for us to realize through substance use that there are other perhaps more satisfying ways of seeing the world.
We can say then that modern drug law is designed to legally oblige Americans to be "uptight" (or "meet" and "seemly" as Shakespeare would have called it) and to have only those thoughts and feelings that are not quite passionate or novel enough to rock the boats of the thought-obsessed powers that be. And so the drug war is far worse than the mere establishment of a religion, for in such an injustice, the tyrant may be appeased with a mere outward show of obedience. No, the drug war tyrant is far more ambitious: he insists that we FEEL the way that he wants us to feel (namely uptight) on penalty of law.
Why Daffy Leftists are Powerless to Combat the Drug War
I say daffy leftists are powerless to combat the drug war, but then they never even try. Perhaps they sense that their commitment to postmodernism and so-called critical theory (which denies the existence of any universal principles) has cut the ground out from under them should they attempt to denounce that war in the most logical way possible, namely by calling it a violation of Natural Law. For what is Natural Law to the postmodernist but a creation of Dead White Males who lived by a meta narrative that cannot be meaningfully discussed outside the Caucasian community that created it? In this way, the left is just as bad as the Drug Warrior, albeit for different reasons: they both willfully ignore the Natural Law upon which Jefferson founded America.
Instead, the modern leftist (better known as "progressive" in the States) fights for ever more obscure "rights" -- like the right for transgender people to be protected from hearing or reading their birth name anywhere in the public discourse! And so they speak truth to power by implicitly making eccentric demands such as: "Sure, tell me which plants I can access, but don't you dare let others speak or write my birth name! Scrape a chalkboard with fingernails if you must, but don't speak the name-that-must-not-be-spoken. Don't get me wrong, I'm a strong, fierce leftist... but there are some things that are just too much even for MY solid nerves!"
Of course, it's impossible to argue with a leftist because their whole postmodern system obliges them to demonize their enemies -- or at very least to deny that their enemies have the ability to say anything meaningful on the topics that the leftist raises. This makes debates easy for them, of course, because you can never knock them off-guard with sound and devastating arguments. The minute that you think you've made an irrefutable logical point, they'll claim that your thoughts are invalid from the git-go on account of your color, faith, religion or sexual preference. As the Church Lady used to say, "How conveeeenient."
Why am I writing this on a website about America's drug war? To provide the reader with just one more of the seemingly endless reasons why America has been saddled with ideologically motivated substance prohibition for 106 consecutive years now. For just when America is starting to awaken from its propaganda-induced trance viz the Drug War, just when we're realizing that the drug war is a violation of Natural Law and the establishment of Christian Science as America's state religion, the far left has discovered (working overtime, of course, in their government-funded ivory towers) that, surprise, surprise: Natural Law doesn't even exist as far as they're concerned! It means nothing except to the elite White Males for whom it was written. (I don't have the heart to tell the leftists that their own cynical self-aggrandizing philosophy is itself the creation of a community of elite White Male philosophers in France!)
PS I should say for the record that I consider myself a liberal under the original meaning of that word... but then that's no doubt exactly what I'd have to say now, wretch that I am, given the meta narrative with which I was raised, one which held that there were some things that government could not justifiably take from human beings. But Earth to leftists: Is that really a narrative that we wish to call contingent and non-universal? Um, hello... I don't think so.
How the Drug Warriors Divide and Conquer
The legalization of marijuana in Virginia is being held back over equity concerns about the treatment of cocaine possession. This illustrates perfectly why the Drug War must be eradicated root and branch and not dealt with one corrupt law at a time. We must all come together, white, black, Hispanic and Asian, and reclaim our right under natural law to the plants and fungi that grow at our very feet. We must deny government the power to override the natural law upon which Thomas Jefferson founded America. For it is no coincidence that the DEA stomped onto Monticello in 1987 and confiscated that Founding Father's poppy plants. It was a coup against the natural law upon which Jefferson founded America.
We should come together to fight against another mega injustice as well: namely, the fact that the Drug War represents the enforcement of the religion of Christian Science, which holds as a matter of faith that we have no need for so-called drugs. I say "so-called" because the great crime of the Drug Warriors is that they have created a new category of evil substances that they call "drugs," out of political expediency, not out of any social, historical or scientific analysis of the substances in question. If we're free to look at uncensored history, we know that there is no such thing as "drugs" in the superstitious and demonizing way that the Drug Warrior uses that term. There are only amoral and inanimate substances that can be used rightly or wrongly, for good or bad reasons, in good or bad doses, in good or bad settings, by good or bad people. To think otherwise is to use drug law as a convenient sledgehammer with which politicians can silence and disenfranchise their enemies. So you have political opponents that use substance X? No problem. Make the possession of X a felony and wipe those opponents off of the voting rolls.
Letter to a Friend
There's a new movie out about the opioid crisis in which the DEA plays the hero. That's like having an arsonist return to a fire he set in order to help extinguish it. The DEA criminalized all far safer substances that offer self-transcendence, created a black market (meanwhile criminalizing mere understanding of psychoactive plant medicine), thereby incentivizing "bad actors" to profit by addicting folks to synthetic crap.
As usual, the DEA is above the law in this film, in this case covering up for the fact that an outraged law-abiding American shot the bad guy in cold blood.
The murderess had been a junkie earlier, so it's hypocritical of her to shoot the dealer. If she's going to shoot anyone, she should shoot the folks who created the black market and outlawed all safe means to self-transcendence.
That's one of the many logic flaws of the Drug Warrior: they refuse to acknowledge humankind's desire for self-transcendence and so childishly ascribe all substance use to irresponsibility and character flaws born of childhood trauma. The whole Vedic religion was established to worship a psychedelic plant. The psychedelic-fueled Eleusinian mysteries lasted 2000 consecutive years and were attended by such western luminaries as Plato, Cicero and Plutarch. Marcus Aurelius and Benjamin Franklin used opium. Freud used cocaine and thought it was a great cure for his depression.
The movie ends by displaying dire statistics about how many are dying from opioids and how much worse it's getting every year. The implication is that we have to crack down still FURTHER ON DRUGS. What then is the end game here? Do we give the DEA carte blanche to do absolutely anything they want to do in the name of combatting this American creation known as "drugs"? a hypocritically selective category of substances that never existed before 1914?
I want to start publishing essays on this subject with B&N as actual analog books. Even if I don't sell any, I would really enjoy sending copies to select logic-challenged individuals, such as the logic-challenged folks who filmed this hatchet job on behalf of the DEA.
As far as I can see, no one's publishing on these topics. Most everyone's bought the absurd premise that there is a real thing called DRUGS that we must fight at every turn -- a viewpoint that no civilization except America has ever embraced. It's a superstition. Everyone else knew that substances are amoral and that things like overdoses are caused by social issues (like a lack of education or the lack of available safe substances). If someone OD'd in Marco Polo's time (himself an opium user) they would not have blamed the substance, just the lack of knowledge that the substance user possessed.
The Drug War: America's Greek Tragedy
The Drug War is bullet-riddled Greek Tragedy American-Style. It's a way of looking at the world that allows us to enforce puritan piety that passe religion can no longer command. It's a way to keep the Wild West going so that gun addicts can satisfy their need to play the good guy. Custom-made violence. It is the new Tenth Commandment. Thou shalt not use dope. It is Mary Baker Eddy on steroids. It is responsible for the OXY epidemic because it not only outlaws far safer substances but it criminalizes their mere research. It makes a boogieman and a scapegoat out of psychoactive substances (dumping them all into the discreditable category of "drugs") in a way that no other civilization has ever done.
But substances are not the problem. Ignorance is a problem. A violence-creating black market is a problem. The outlawing of safe psychoactive plant medicine is a problem. The ideological war on human consciousness, THAT is a problem. Politicians telling us how and how much we can think, that is a problem. Politicians violating natural law by presuming to tell us what plants and fungi we can access, that is a problem. DEA thugs who poison Americans with paraquat and stomp onto Monticello to steal Thomas Jefferson's poppy plants, that is a problem. A tyrannical government that denies gainful employment to Americans who dare to access time-honored plant medicine, THAT is a problem.
Then, because America has such a jaundiced attitude toward psychoactive substances, we arrogantly go around the world burning plants, as if we've discovered some great truth about evil substances, never realizing that our willfully purblind attitude toward "drugs" is the problem, not amoral substances themselves. Our hatred of education. Our hatred of plant medicine. Our need for a scapegoat for social ills. Our idiotic view of psychology that takes exactly zero account of the human being's unquenchable desire for self-transcendence and "seeing beyond the veil." These are all problems, not "drugs".
If we must have a Drug War, let's crack down on alcohol use and remove anyone from the work force should their urine reveal any traces of booze whatsoever. Let's then remove them from the voting rolls. Then let's make America great again by executing alcohol distributors, thereby hoisting the beer-swilling Drug Warriors by their own petard.
Of course I'm speaking rhetorically here. I do not personally want to punish ANYONE based on the substances that they choose to consume -- I only wish I could say the same of the vast majority of Americans, bamboozled as they are by daily doses of ideological Drug War propaganda on TV and in movies (as in cop shows, for instance, in which cocaine is only ever used by the scummiest of board-certified scumbags, lest the viewer get any crazy ideas about personally profiting from the psychoactive powers of Mother Nature's plant medicines).
Trogodolyte Drug Warriors
There are no such things as "drugs." There are only substances that can be used for good or bad reasons, at good or bad dosages, by the right or wrong people, in the right or wrong circumstances. Neither are there such things as "drug problems." If a substance is misused, it is because of a social problem such as a lack of education, not a problem caused by some all-powerful scapegoat substance called a "drug." All intelligent people and societies understood this fact, until 1914, when racist politicians realized that they could marginalize their political opponents by criminalizing their drug of choice and then removing them from the voting rolls when they chose to partake. In short, the Drug War is a politically motivated superstition designed to take America's eye off the ball and have us scapegoat inanimate substances rather than deal with real social problems, such as the bigoted legislation that arises from the Drug War itself.
Ignorant America has made such a fetish out of this political category of "drugs" that we criminalize the mere research of such politically demonized substances, which represents, of course, a superstitious way of looking at the world worthy of cave people, not of a society that preens itself on its supposed scientific prowess.