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    nautil.us2/17/2114 min
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    nautil.us
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    • sjwoo2 months ago

      This scientist may have good intentions, but I'm afraid he's wildly misguided. Until we have hard drugs that are regulated and vetted by the FDA (which, let's be frank, will be never), anyone who says taking heroin or coke is OK is deluded. In a better world with super health care and an openly-minded society, yes, hard drugs are fine. But not here, not now, not ever.

    • Nicki2 months ago

      To everyone on here who finds these arguments compelling, I hope I can just convince you of one thing: please use extreme caution when considering the words of any “scientist” who uses experiments to prove an outcome that he is already highly emotionally tied to. That is, by definition, not science.

      From his Wikipedia page: “[Hart] uses his research as a scientific basis for his presentations on the importance of decriminalizing drugs.”

      I am disappointed in how unscientific and biased the arguments sounded. Opioids are not like fructose/glucose (one binds while the other is consumed), and the potencies are wildly different. Street opioids are on the order of 200 to 1,000,000x more potent than endogenous sources. There is no comparison for sugar, because even pure refined sugar doesn’t hit those potencies. Pharmacological substances are highly potent and a hand-waving argument about how people just use it too much is so, so dangerous.

      • Karenz2 months ago

        Nicki, I was very concerned reading this article, too. I get 40 hrs of Continuing Ed credits every 2 years for my license renewal as a therapist and every expert I’ve ever had present has cited research on how opiods change brain chemistry. It’s hard to argue with a Columbia U neuroscience prof but I’d sure like to have him cite his sources. Who wouldn’t love to hear us “adults” can use substances freely but this is very dangerous information to be promulgating. It’s rare to be using substances without some dual psychological issue even if it’s not an actual diagnosis. I’d like to hear what his wife has to say.

        • justinzealand2 months ago

          In an interview with Fox News he said “Legalized drugs would be safer, regulated like alcohol, free from contamination and a source of tax revenue, he has argued, and criminalizing substances has had negative impacts on the poor and people of color.” In this I fully agree. The war on drugs has been a disaster of epic proportions. As for drug use itself, it’s a personal matter, and subject to the “so long as it doesn’t affect others”. I’d argue, however, that “others” are society at large when society is forming its community norms. A complicated issue, but like heroin, I suspect this author’s views are not suited (yet?) for mass consumption.

          • Karenz2 months ago

            Good response, Justin. I was glad you included society in the list of who can be affected by drug abuse. It IS a complicated issue and I agree the war on drugs has been as unhelpful as most wars. Neuroscience is really working on treatments that would help people who are addicted. That’s where I felt Hart went off track, being too dismissive of its effects on the brain. He should know better.

      • theesakker2 months ago

        Hear! Hear! Thank you for some real information. Maybe some can use heroin ‘functionally’ but there are many who can’t (would be interesting to see some real data on percentages) and as I was reading the article that treats heroin use in a relatively glib manner, I couldn’t help feeling for the people who have lost loved ones to heroin addiction - and data shows there are many whether or not folks blame media hype.

        • jeff
          Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeReading streakScout
          2 months ago

          Maybe some can use heroin ‘functionally’ but there are many who can’t...

          I think the big question is why some people can and some people can't. What if by stigmatizing the drug we're ignoring underlying personal, interpersonal and societal issues that cause some people to be in so much emotional pain that they seek out constant escapism? I think the potential downside is so great, and our current system so broken, that it's worth turning over these stones no matter how uncomfortable it might be.

          • DellwoodBarker
            Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
            2 months ago

            Yes, if life has taught anything...it is that there are Always Exceptions to the rule. There are so many possibilities a human body can respond or react to and so many variables. And we are in a time of awakening to even some types of “super human” qualities we are tapping into - our ability to self-heal and withstand harsh conditions come to mind as being excavated like never before. It really does come down to individuals and getting in tune with what may work or not work for someone in the moment.

            And yes...could the weight and worry we bear as a result of the more tragic stories be lifted/processed/transformed for an evolution of possibility in the future? A lot of the greatest science in the future starts out in really grey areas of controversy like this. The balance of scales need to tip more in favor of treating holistically and individually as he mentions for optimal healing and once those variables are balanced more within our core perhaps more of us could choose avenues like this.

            I, for one, having appreciated this read and Rubik’s Cube spin am not seeing this as a license of permission - “well if it works for him; it will work for me.” That would be dangerous and folly mindset. If reading this gave a genuine addict a free pass to keep on it would be tragic. Perhaps that is where being a grown-up comes in. Being able to evaluate from all angles when asking “is it right for me though?” And Being Confident in the answer that surfaces within.

            1. Update (2/20/2021):

              Adding to the final sentence...

              “Or reckoning with - hopefully just a one-and-done personal failure if the option to experience the drug is chosen in confidence and it unexpectedly backfired unlike his own.”

      • jeff
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        2 months ago

        I think skepticism is important and caution warranted, especially concerning something as potentially dangerous heroin. I don't see any issue with the quote you selected from the Wikipedia page though. He's using his research as a basis for his presentations. Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? Wouldn't it be a problem if it were the other way around?

        I don't think it's a good idea to classify something as "not science" simply because the person performing the experiment is emotionally tied to an outcome. How many scientists who are researching climate change are totally dispassionate about the issue? Should we discredit their research as "not science" if they are not? I think we should be looking at the methodology of specific research and experiments on a case-by-case basis instead.

        • Nicki2 months ago

          Agree that methodology is important to inspect in every case. But I definitely see a problem with using a scientific appointment to push a social agenda. Your analogy to climate change is spot on, and it’s the first one I’d arrive at as well. The buzz around climate change has reached a fever pitch that makes it very difficult to remove emotion from the science. What if we were to find evidence that we were wrong? I often ask myself if I’d be brave enough to stand up straight and announce my findings. If we are doing effective science, we will be wrong about some things we think to be true today, but that’s a dirty little secret of science that the general public doesn’t want to hear.

          There are subtle mindset shifts that can drastically change the course of scientific investigation, and if you’re interested in the topic there are some philosophers of science who study this. Thomas Kuhn is one whose work influenced me. Hopefully that helps show where I’m coming from.

      • Peachy2 months ago

        Yes, I had similar thoughts as I read this.

    • Pegeen
      ScoutScribe
      2 months ago

      Oh, this is a pot stirrer for sure! I think the biggest problem for me is the term “healthy, responsible adults.” Carl is a neuroscientist and Columbia professor. He’s obviously intelligent but he, himself, admits to using heroin to make himself more socially and emotionally aware and responsible. And, he really likes his life and is being responsible. How many people fall into that category? We definitely need to revamp our position on drugs. There is blatant hypocrisy with legalizing alcohol and cigarettes and pretending they are less harmful than opioids. The “war on drugs” has never worked. It’s a money pit, a dog chasing its tail. Much to think about here and discuss. I’ll be interested in following this thread. I’m sure it will be AOTD.

      • Karenz2 months ago

        My daughter-in-law who’s a doctor in research at John’s Hopkins University just confirmed that everything you’re addicted to changes the brain. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues to think about but it throws up a caution flag about some of the underpinnings of this article.

    • DellwoodBarker
      Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
      2 months ago

      🤯 🤯

      Great Read. A lot of Really Grounded Points. Forces me to hold up the mirror to my own moralistic judgements of preconceived drug users/addicts.

      Just think about why people become addicted. A large number become addicted because of co-occurring psychiatric illnesses, because of pain issues, because they once had a middle-class-paying job that made them someone in their home, someone in their community. Those jobs are gone. Then there’s no healthcare or there’s poor education. If your treatment is not addressing these issues, people are not going to overcome it. But if we have treatments that are holistic, and they’re looking at the individual, and not so much the drug, then we’re good. But if we’re just talking about the drug, then we’re already behind the eight ball, then we will lose that battle.

      His reasons behind heroin use and his experiences are rather eye-opening. I don’t foresee running out to try it, personally, based on his positive experiences, but damn...this conversation really spins the table.

      You write that heroin has made you a better person. How?

      It helps me to think about the impact of my behavior on other people, and then make the appropriate adjustments where I may have caused people harm, or anguish, or anxiety, stress. I try to rectify that. It’s a great solace in that way, it helps me to be patient with people—to be all the things that we hope our children will be. That’s what I’m trying to do. And it helps me to do that.

      • thorgalle
        ScoutScribe
        2 months ago

        Forces me to hold up the mirror to my own moralistic judgements of preconceived drug users/addicts.

        It also did this for me. The negative image comes from the many negative stories that are popularized about drugs: celebrities dying because of abuse, the way poor addicts are portrayed in film... Positive stories like this one don’t often surface.

        And what would the media have to write about?

        Funny that he made this remark to a journalist publishing his story :)

        • DellwoodBarker
          Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
          2 months ago

          The negative image comes from the many negative stories that are popularized about drugs: celebrities dying because of abuse, the way poor addicts are portrayed in film... Positive stories like this one don’t often surface.

          So, so true!

          Having been quite unexpectedly homeless (simply due to unemployment and weird twists of fate; not substance abuse/use) I have experienced:

          1. some of those stories or witnessed them as an observer staying at a shelter for about 8 months getting back on my feet.

          2. I experienced the wrongful and slanderous judgement (better understanding the stigma drug users face) of being yelled at and called a drug user by a downtown individual. It hurt because I knew it wasn’t true, personally. It made me so fearful of losing reputation in community. On the flip side, I am awakened to the mass mentality judgement placed on drug users/abusers. Interestingly, all of this allows for deeper examination of my own fears and judgements around this topic.

          • Karenz2 months ago

            It’s not “the media” stigmatizing drug abusers it’s the people like family members who’ve been robbed or even beaten by their own kids or parents over $ for drugs. I hear the effects on families from my clients regularly and it’s devastating. I guess none of these users were “grownups.”

            • DellwoodBarker
              Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
              2 months ago

              Excellent points, Karenz

              • Karenz2 months ago

                Thanks, Dellwood. I would LOVE this neuroscience prof to be 100% correct but I think it’s more complex than that for most of us. Grownup is still such a relative term at my age—74!!!

    • EZ19692 months ago

      I like his focus on the whole person, not the drug. I wonder when he uses heroin, where it fits into his day, how long the effects last. Not everyone would have the luxury of being able to zone out for a long stretch of the day. Whose taking care of his kids? He says he meets his parenting obligations. I wonder how he does that.

      • jeff
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        2 months ago

        I like his focus on the whole person, not the drug.

        Yup! Such a radically different approach but also a simple and logical one. There is evidence from Switzerland that it works in practice as public policy, too: Switzerland’s Experiment With Addiction Treatment.

        There's also the classic "Rat Park" experiment that highlighted the connection between environment and drug use.

        Not everyone would have the luxury of being able to zone out for a long stretch of the day.

        In a recent interview he mentions that he insufflates it. Sure you can take enough to get completely wrecked but you can also take a small dose that produces just a mild euphoria. I got the impression that he uses it in much the same way that most people use alcohol. In fact he specifically mentioned that he avoids alcohol and caffeine because he doesn't like the effects they have.

      • DellwoodBarker
        Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
        2 months ago

        Not everyone would have the luxury of being able to zone out for a long stretch of the day. Whose taking care of his kids? He says he meets his parenting obligations. I wonder how he does that.

        Yes. More conversation ripe for interview lacking in the read.

    • jeff
      Top reader this weekTop reader of all timeReading streakScout
      2 months ago

      I've spent hours listening to Hart speak in various talks and interviews over the years and I think his message is an eminently important one. I only wish this interview was longer but I'd still encourage everyone to read it, consider what he has to say and hopefully continue to read more and dig even deeper.

      • DellwoodBarker
        Top reader this weekReading streakScoutScribe
        2 months ago

        Jeff - would Love more Recommended reads or links to talks from Carl Hart which you mention above. I will also simply google him.

      • Florian2 months ago

        Loved reading it and completely agree with your comment, Jeff! Thanks so much for sharing

    • bartadamley
      Scout
      2 months ago

      Great Article. Was not a piece I would have normally read, but thankfully it was the AOTD.

      “My heroin use is as rational as my alcohol use,” Carl Hart writes. “Like vacation, sex, and the arts, heroin is one of the tools that I use to maintain my work-life balance.”

      It's really interesting to see how we can actually relate our drug use to our lives... and how it can enhance our work-life balance.

      However, he makes an interesting claim regarding drug use and has an important definition for what a "fully functioning" person is . . . as there definitely has to be limits set for drug use.