Category Archives: heroin addiction

Everything you know about heroin addiction is wrong

Heroin, Dalrymple points out,

  • is not highly addictive.
  • Withdrawal from it is not medically serious.
  • Addicts do not become criminals to feed their habit.
  • Addicts do not need any medical assistance to stop taking heroin.

He notes that heroin addiction is

a moral or spiritual problem.

A literary tradition dating back to De Quincey and Coleridge,

and continuing up to the deeply sociopathic William Burroughs and beyond, has misled all Western societies for generations about the nature of heroin addiction. These writers’ self-dramatising and dishonest accounts of their addiction have been accepted uncritically, and have been more influential by far in forming public attitudes than the whole of pharmacological science.

As a result,

a self-serving, self-perpetuating and useless medical bureaucracy has been set up to deal with the problem.

Drug addiction is a condition invented by users and doctors

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Withdrawing from heroin is far from the titanic struggle of misery portrayed by the treatment industry, Dalrymple points out. Treatment for drug addiction is, in fact, a waste of time.

In heroin’s clutches

Chet Baker

Chet Baker

Dalrymple dislikes the implication that

in the relationship between a person and heroin, heroin is the active participant. It is the person who grips the heroin, not the other way round.

The status of heroin addict

is one that is sought after. Once achieved, it is not slavery or enchainment, it is a lack of anything considered important enough to give up for.

Heroin addiction

is another of the myriad ways of fulfilling the human urge to self-destruction.

Smack from the shrink

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Anna Kavan

The novelist Anna Kavan, writes Dalrymple,

was for many years dependent on Karl Theodor Bluth, a psychiatrist who had been an exile from Nazi Germany and came to live in England. She found in him a soul mate, and it was he who supplied her, legally, with her heroin, sometimes injecting her with it. Bluth was himself a writer, having published essays in Cyril Connolly’s Horizon and a book on the philosophy of Leibnitz.

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Anna Kavan, Portrait of Dr Karl Theodor Bluth, gouache on paper, c.1963

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Addiction to opiates is a pretend illness

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 09.00.01And, Dalrymple writes,

treatment of it is pretend rather than real treatment.

How and why

addicts came to lie to doctors, how and why doctors came to return the compliment, and how and why society swallowed the lies,

is explored in Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy, in which Dalrymple explains that

  • heroin is not highly addictive
  • withdrawal from it is not medically serious
  • addicts do not become criminals to feed their habit
  • addicts do not need any medical assistance to stop taking heroin
  • heroin addiction is a moral or spiritual problem.

OK, so they joined Isis. It could’ve happened to anybody

Screen Shot 2015-08-08 at 08.15.02Liberal intellectuals, writes Dalrymple,

want to divide humanity into the tiny minority of people with agency (perpetrators) and the vast majority without it (victims)—the latter requiring salvation by liberal intellectuals. The rich and powerful are perpetrators with agency; everyone else is a victim without agency.

Asked why they started taking heroin, addicts say they

fell in with the wrong crowd,

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 07.45.50passively,

as if by some kind of natural force.

Isis happens

A newspaper describes some ‘Portsmouth lads’ of Bangladeshi origin as ‘falling into Isis’s hands’.

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Victims of circumstance

The use of the word lads is intended to imply that there is nothing special or different about these young men. Its use is a manifestation of wishful or even magical thinking. The men fell into the hands of Isis as an apple falls to the ground by gravitational force. It could have happened to anybody, this going to Syria via Turkey to join a movement that delights in decapitation in the name of a religion—their religion. Joining Isis is like multiple sclerosis; it’s something that just happens to people.

The word fell

denies agency to the young men, as if they had no choice. They were victims of circumstance by virtue of their membership of a minority, for minorities are by definition victims without agency.

Withdrawal from opiates is a pretty trivial condition

Screen Shot 2014-06-22 at 12.38.48— certainly by comparison

with illnesses which most of us have experienced, or by comparison with withdrawal from other drugs.

Research has shown, says Dalrymple, that

medical treatment is not necessary for heroin addicts to abandon their habit, and many thousands do so without any medical intervention whatsoever.