Friday, October 13, 2006

Opiate Romance

Opiate Romance
by George Giles

Theodore Dalrymple is a British Doctor who is also a gifted writer. He has written extensively on his experiences in medical practice in some of the world's worst places: the third world, the British prison system, and the slums of London. He is critical of socialism, especially the British variant. His latest book Romancing Opiates" with a subtitle of Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy is an insightful look behind the scenes of heroin and methadone addicts and the addiction bureaucrats that service them.

Dalrymple prose is like reading Shakespeare where every moment is a pleasure. You find yourself reading and re-reading just to enjoy the beauty with which the English language can represent ideas with simple words strung together sequentially. The enjoyment is all the more ironic when we consider the subject of much of his writings, the failure of socialism, and his personal dealings with those that have failed under it...

Where the book really gets interesting is when he relates individual stories of the addicts and how mild addiction to heroin/opiates really is. The "illness" is minor, passes quickly and is not at all the hideous ritual as is popularly portrayed ad nauseum by the addiction bureaucracy and their sycophants. He also provides ample evidence, from first-hand experience as a medical expert, both observation and expert witness testimony, that the addiction is not easily acquired and is easily shed when circumstances mandate. Most addicts eventually tire of the lifestyle and prison as they grow older. This contravenes the conventional wisdom of the multi-billion-dollar pharmaceutical addiction bureaucracy that in many cases provides both the product and the treatment for the kind of exorbitant profit margins that only a government-mandated cartel can provide...

My criticism of this book is that he does not apply Thomas Szasz's logic of self-medication as an alternative to established therapeutic practices which are the product more of privileged elite thought leaders than scientific reality. He does not address the immense societal cost of drug criminality due to cartel-mandated exorbitant prices, enforcement, and interdiction costs or the costs that "drug wars" impart on the citizenry of most countries of the world. He also does not criticize the existence of the cartel of which he is a member. This is all forgivable if not excusable when you look at his extensive record of truly helping the downtrodden...


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