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Drug of choice

"Drug of choice" Continued...

Issue: "Summer of '68," Aug. 9, 2008

Second, it is perfectly obvious from talking to addicts that their habit is usually a response to the dissatisfactions of their lives, a totally unconstructive one, but a response nonetheless.

WORLD: So what do you think of groups like Teen Challenge that advocate religious conversion as a way to end addiction?

DALRYMPLE: It has long been known that religious conversion often effects a change in behavior. Of course, it is not for everyone, nor can it be forced upon people. But textbooks of addiction medicine acknowledge that religious conversions, or crises, effect changes.

WORLD: Why do you call heroin use more a consequence than a cause of criminality?

DALRYMPLE: Most heroin addicts who end up in prison have long criminal records before they ever take heroin. Therefore, their propensity to crime pre-exists their addiction. It is clear also that the mass addiction that we have seen in Britain in the last two decades has taken hold in precisely the same population in which criminality had become firmly established. Whatever inclines people to crime inclines them also to addiction to heroin.

If you take someone like Burroughs, it is clear that his attraction to crime preceded his addiction.

WORLD: What do you think of the arguments for legalizing drug use?

DALRYMPLE: I think the debate is a rather sterile one. I can see the arguments in favor of legalization, but I think they are mistaken. If it is true that addiction is a consequence or a co-variant of criminality and not a cause of it, one of the supposed benefits of legalization will not accrue. The dealers, moreover, will not beat their needles into ploughshares and become respectable members of society. Furthermore, so long as there are restrictions on the sale of drugs, there will be a black market, and no one (as far as I know) suggests there should be no restrictions whatsoever.

The Netherlands, the most liberal country in Europe with regard to drugs, is also one of the most crime-ridden. I do not think this is a consequence of its drug policy, but it suggests that a liberal policy does not necessarily reduce crime.

On the other hand, it is perfectly possible that a liberal policy would not be a catastrophe by comparison with what we have now.

I think it is far more important to change the conception we have of addiction, and make people understand that it is not what we have thought it was for so long. Perhaps the most important thing is to stop pretending to addicts that their addiction is an illness in itself, and try to get them to see that they are agents, not victims.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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