August 18, 2020
How the Drug War turned me into an eternal patientby Ballard Quass
If I had my life to live over again, I would never set foot in a psychiatrist's office, at least not while a Drug War was in effect. Why? Because the Drug War has outlawed every mood medicine except those that are the most addictive of all: namely, modern antidepressants and benzodiazepines. So if you go to a psychiatrist's office, chances are you're going to be started on a "regimen" of highly addictive medications that will turn you into a patient for life. Even as I write this, 1 in 8 American men and 1 in 4 American women are addicted to Big Pharma meds.
I once naively thought that the whole point of psychotherapy was to make the patient self-sufficient and to empower them to face life on their own. But I have learned the hard way, after 40 years of addiction to prescription meds, that modern psychiatry does not seek to empower patients at all. In fact, it does the exact opposite, by turning them into patients for life, who must visit a shrink every 3 to 6 months of their lives in order to qualify for yet another prescription of the addictive pills on which they were started. What could be more demoralizing than this constant expensive and time-consuming reminder that one is an eternal patient, living life as a ward of the healthcare state?
If the meds in question were simply addictive, that would be bad enough, but the DEA requires that I see my doctor every three to six months to have him or her officially determine that I have the right to continue taking these expensive and ineffective meds - and I say "ineffective" advisedly, because Big Pharma PR to the contrary, the Effexor I'm taking does not fight depression. At best it seems to dull the mind to make one slightly less worried about that depression. And yet the DEA thinks that I can't be trusted after 40 long years to use these medicines wisely without constant surveillance by the medical establishment? What a laugh, considering that I myself would be the first to renounce these drugs were any of the hundreds of natural alternative medicines actually legal.
Why is the DEA so pathologically worried about drug misuse, even when the drug in question is legal and does not provide the user with anything approaching a good time? It's because the Drug War is all about superstitiously turning psychoactive substances into giant bugaboos, all-purpose scapegoats, holding them responsible for everything good and bad in the world. In the past (that is before 1914), we knew that substances were amoral and that their proper use depended solely on context. Society's goal was to educate the citizen about making wise decisions. In the superstitious Drug War era, we label substances themselves as bad, making the tyrannous claim that citizens cannot be trusted with them, that the government must either outlaw psychoactive substances or watch like a hawk as its citizens use such substances under the closest bureaucratic scrutiny possible.
Of course, if the legal dope that I was taking actually worked - like the cocaine with which Sigmund Freud overcame his own depression or the opium that helped Benjamin Franklin get through the rainy days -- I might not mind the regular visits to the behavioral health clinic to jump through the required hoops. But it's a double insult to be subjected to this demoralizing indignity for the purpose of receiving a prescription that one does not even want, to be catechized about one's mental health by a constantly changing roster of interns who might be half my age at most.
Perhaps someday I'll have the nerve to truthfully answer the shrink's obligatory question about suicide:
Q: Have you ever thought about taking your own life?
A: Only when I think about the fact that the Drug War has turned me into an eternal patient.