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The war on drugs has been a difficult one in the last decades because of the changing dynamics of the users, barons and peddlers. Different countries have faced major barriers mainly because of the approach is taken. The United States was one of the countries that failed to achieve its goals in the fight against drugs. The racist approach was one of the hindrances. Besides, most countries have developed policies that are not bearing fruits on the war on drugs. Hari in his book, Chasing the scream, explores different issues that can be used to shape the war on drugs. He focuses on the changing the definition of addiction and the effective ways that it can be handled. Hari expresses perfect storytelling combined with an extensive review of the literature to support his claims in the book. He cites formulation of policies that can be easily implemented. For instance, the decriminalization of drugs policy that was used in Portugal in the fight against drugs. It was effective as there was recorded reduction in the use of psychoactive drugs. The resources that were used on the war against drugs to arrest and charge the culprits were instead channelled towards the management and rehabilitation of the drug addicts, enrolling them in programs and training where they can gain skills and get employed before reintegrating them back to the society. The approach has been effective and many countries are doing benchmarks and considering adopting them. The war on drugs according to Hari can be achieved if there is a holistic view on the issue of addiction rather than only focusing on the chemical properties of the drugs but also the connection that comes with it. His view of addiction is supported by scientific experiments conducted on caged rats by Alexander Mate.
Chasing the Scream and Addiction
For a very long time, the story of the waging war on drugs has been told in different platforms to the extent of making it look obvious to those in addiction. Johann Hari found that people have recognized the fact that addiction and drugs are different from what others think they are. Besides, he criticized the motives of the wars on drugs, their priorities and focus. One of the major issues addressed by Hari in the book is addiction and the way it works. However, the stories explained by Hari on addiction are based on individual experiments rather than majorly a systematic review of scientific literature.
Addiction and the Chemical Model of the Drugs
Addiction is a concern for many drugs mainly because of their physical properties. The chemical hooks that exist in the drugs are the ones that trigger addiction as explained by Hari in the book, Chasing the Scream and Addiction. However, he refutes addiction by indicating that there are some people who regularly use drugs without getting addicted. For instance, Carl Hart argued that among the people that used crack, only 3% used it in the past one month and 20% got addicted (Rodger 77). The fate is different for the others. Hari indicates that addiction affects only 10% of the drug users. The statement is supported by the United Nations Office on Drug Control Office on the War on Drugs. Of the population that is involved in drugs, the bulk comprises the non-addictive users (Trudeau 45). These statistics support the statement by Hari on addiction. Besides, a massive scientific study by the World Health organization on Cocaine that was done in 1995 found that the experimental, as well as occasional uses of the drug, comprise the most common type unlike the dysfunctional as well as compulsive (Hari 46) (Rodger 77-89).
There are two models of addiction that Hari proposes to include the works of Bruce Alexander and Gabor Mate. The position of Gabor is that there is nothing that is addictive on its own. It has to be a combination of a behavior, potentially addictive substance and an individual (Newcombe 229). The question that arises from this model that gets Hari’s support in the book is the issue of susceptibility. What brings the susceptibility? Hari indicates that there was a study that focused on the long-term effects of childhood trauma that affected addiction in adulthood. The argument is true as early childhood trauma increases the likelihood of developing addiction in adulthood by four times (Thoumi 135-136).
Hari also makes a conclusion that addiction is an adaptation depending on the environment that one lives. This way, he refuted the scientific experiment that was done on caged rats whereby the solitary caged rats kept on drinking the cocaine in water until they died (Maroda 26). This was supported by Alexander’s experiment by introducing a paradise cage where the rats engaged in other activities rather than taking the drugs (Newcombe 230) (Ferreira 265-291). One of the arguments by Hari was that once the cages were changed, the rats readjusted to the life and they did not get involved in drugs.
Hari further uses the issue of cigarette smoking to refute the arguments of chemical addiction (Hari 15). The book states that the substance, nicotine, that is known to cause addiction in cigarettes should have patches developed using it as a perfect remedy to the problem. However, the nicotine patches do not have a 100% success rate because chemical addition is not only the problem (Newcombe 229). To deal adequately with the problem of smoking, one has to explore more solutions rather than fixing the problem of nicotine. The models that support the arguments of Hari, that is Alexander experiments and the theory of Mate can be constructively used as an effective approach to addiction and the war on drugs. The thinking of the society can be changed (Trudeau 45). No matter the number of drugs availed to the rats, they will never take them if they are at a good life. Therefore, it is the environment that triggers addiction rather than the individual alone.
When an individual is caged, punished or shamed, they are easily trapped in addiction. The core of addiction lies in the pain felt rather than the drugs taken (Rodger 77-89). Most of the solutions offered in the war on addiction are not effective and would fail in the global war. Countries that have adopted compassionate drug policies to improve connection for the addicts have done very well in the war on drugs. For instance, Portugal that suffered a lot in the dug problems adopted a policy of decriminalizing all drugs in 2001 (Newcombe 230). The resources that were previously used for punishing the drug addicts were changed to cover their comprehensive treatment and management, training and creating jobs for them in preparation for the reintegration back to their communities. The move contributed to a 50% drop in the injectable drug use and a massive reduction in the addiction, crime, and deaths related to substance abuse (Trudeau 46). Australia is also considering adopting the same compassionate drug policy in its war on drugs.
The fight for the abuse of drugs and addiction has been hampered by the racist approach that is exhibited without logic or evidence. Criminals are the people that benefit more from this approach to the war on drugs (Newcombe 229). Hari shows a surer footing when he explains the current events through the existing vivid sketches of the drug trade combatants. The keen eye for detail critically looks at the war on drugs. Hari looks at the best practices and the effective treatment options for drug abuse and addiction (Trudeau 46). However, the book by Hari portrays some misunderstandings of the basic principles of scientific research as they lack data as the anecdotes. He explores a far-reaching background on extensive addiction and complements that with expert opinion
Hari uncovered the journey of the war on drugs with remarkable stories. The book can be portrayed as a perfect and detailed anecdote to the global war on drugs as well as the moral injustices. The book is expected to bring and contribute to the debate on the war on drugs in a focused manner. It is normally referred to as the drug policy reform book because of the expectations on how to change the war on drugs and giving a new look at the definition and management of addiction (Newcombe 229). Hari describes the contemporary policies and the history of psychoactive drug abuse. The book goes an extra mile to highlight the war on drugs by the United States in terms of punishments for the barons, peddlers and users.
Most of the psychoactive drugs are in regular circulation in the world and the only way to deal with them and win this war is to adopt or make policies that will minimize the harmful effects. Portugal has been an example of how the policies work effectively by decriminalizing all the drugs and instead using the funds for the recovery of the addicts. The focus on shifting laws, practices and policies on drug and substance abuse is critical in the war. Many countries are strategizing and drafting policies that will enhance meaningful and effective war on drugs. Countries should borrow a leaf from the ones that have drafted effective policies to control the menace. Besides, it is critical to developing a diseases model framework for the management of addiction in a holistic way.
Ferreira, Rodrigo H. G. "The War On Drugs Addiction."Revue européenne des sciences sociales 53-1 (2015): 265-291. Web.
Hari, Johann. Chasing The Scream. New York [etc.]: Bloomsbury, 2016. Print.
Maroda, Karen J. "Thinking About Thinking: Is Psychoanalysis About Changing Your Mind Or Changing Your Life?Thinking About Thinking: Is Psychoanalysis About Changing Your Mind Or Changing Your Life?."PsycCRITIQUES 5959.3131 (2014): n. pag. Web.
Newcombe, Russell. "Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugschasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs Johann Hari Bloomsbury London 2015 ISBN 9781408857830."Drugs and Alcohol Today 16.3 (2016): 229-230. Web.
Rodger, James. "The Visionary Cure Of The Addiction War? Ibogaine: Social Context, Subcultural Identity, And Implications For Drug Policy."Drugs and Alcohol Today 11.2 (2011): 77-89. Web.
Thoumi, Francisco E. "Bad Neighbor Policy: Washington's Futile War On Drugs In Latin America."Addiction 99.1 (2004): 135-136. Web.
Trudeau, Andrew. "Johann Hari: Chasing The Scream: The First And Last Days Of The War On Drugs."International Politics Reviews 5.1 (2017): 45-46. Web.
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