Saturday, January 07, 2006

Why Drugs are Good

I miss my uncle. There was a wonderful man... Always had a funny story. Small town doctor. Entreprenuer. A bit of a show-off. Respected in his community. Loved by all. He was also addicted to pain killers.

I guess you'd call him a "functional addict" or something. He hid his addiction quite well from his family and friends, patients and co-workers, but there was a loneliness about him, which I always figured was the loneliness of a towering genius forced to put up with dolts. A divorcée with grown kids, he lived alone. That, along with a recent break-up of a multi-year romance, a crushing debt, and the responsibilities that go along with a start-up business venture, must have weighed heavily on him. This was certainly the lens through which we in his family interpreted his weariness.

To feed his addiction he was forced to forge prescriptions for fake patients. Obviously this leaves a paper trail. To cover his tracks, he would fill the prescriptions in different towns throughout the state. Unfortunately he wasn't careful enough, and ultimately a nosy, self-righteous pharmacist figured it out, called him up on a Friday afternoon, and informed him that the authorities would be notified on Monday.

It isn't hard to imagine the calculus that my uncle must have gone through that weekend. Doctoring was all he knew - was almost certainly how he defined himself. So, losing that would be tantamount to losing himself. "How is a 50-year-old man going to start over?" he must have thought. What's the answer? How would he pay back all the money he owed for starting a business - a business that he would now probably have to give up? Not to mention, how was he going to get his next fix? These problems, difficult as they are on their own, must have seemed completely insurmountable to a man also suffering from a broken heart. His solution was to kill himself on Sunday.

Now, the question you're probably asking is, "How can this have anything to do with drugs being good?" The answer is that it wasn't the pills that killed my uncle. What killed him was a system that encouraged his death. Why call it a "war" if there aren't supposed to be casualties? And innocents die in war all the time, right? That's just how it goes...

The war on drugs is a sick, sick thing. People die. Others rot for years in jail cells. Police are diverted from actual policing and are alienated from the communities they serve. And for what? What do we have to show for it? A bust every now and again pulls a few kilos off the street, so junkies have to shoot up baking soda until the re-supply? Where is the evidence that the war on drugs has done anything other than destroy lives?

But I digress... Drugs. Good. If I could choose between a dead uncle and a live uncle who's addicted to pills, guess which I'd choose. A non-addicted uncle would be great, but he is not among the choices. Prior to the pain killers, my uncle was an alcoholic for years, so some part of him needed those drugs to deal with life. What of it? They didn't turn him into a pedophilic serial-killer. Why should you or a pharmacist or a cop or a politician have any say over what is or is not "good" for my uncle or the street junkie or anyone else who makes the choice that, today, they're going to take drugs? How is that not an example of profound arrogance - particularly when you offer no alternative, except to destroy their lives if they continue making the "bad" choice?

So this is why drugs are good: because good people take drugs. Sometimes it's just for a fun time and why not? Sometimes, as in the case of my uncle, it's just a fucked up way to deal with the bad things in life, to get through the god-forsaken day any way you can, and if the alternative is death, then, believe me, the cost is too great. Choose drugs. Drugs are good.


steve said...

Interresting perspective on drugs (and I'm very sorry about the loss of your uncle). Yeah, there is so much hypocrisy involved in this "war" on drugs--you pretty much summed it up on this post. People getting huge prison sentences for possessing some weed when beer and liquor are such a huge business and way of life for Americans. Doesn't the stuff pretty much have the same effect in many ways? It's amazing to see how much of a profit is being made by big (legal)drug companies in an attempt to keep the very old and sick alive way beyond their time!Thing is people are going to take drugs forever no matter what the law says. Really, I'm at a loss as far as any solutions, if there really are any.

Einzige said...

Thanks, Steve.

"Perspective" is a good word. Admittedly, I don't think it qualifies as a "logical argument." Critics could rightly object that "good people" taking drugs does not translate to "drugs are good." And they might have a point if they were to say that my uncle probably didn't get any joy from his addiction.

The basic issue, and the point I'm trying to make, I guess, is that calling drugs "bad" is like getting mad at your car when it breaks down. Giving an inanimate object a moral dimension focuses attention on the wrong thing. Tools--and I would argue that drugs are a tool--are not bad in and of themselves. They are simply means to an end.

The subject deserves a more rigorous treatment, but my thoughts on it are still mostly nebulous at this point.

Einzige said...

Although psychedelics and I strongly disagree, I thought I'd share this little tidbit.

Einzige said...

Oops. I meant this.

Anonymous said...

Corwin was like a brother to me. I miss him too. However, I would consider his case as a better example of why drugs are bad, not good. Corwin had natural gifts with which few people on earth are blessed. He was intelligent, good looking, witty, healthy, and well educated. He had it all, yet he risked (and lost) everything for drugs. True, outlawing of drugs by the political state is a bad idea. But, they have done it, so it is probably best not to use them, because you might get caught. Corwin misjudged the risks of drug use and suffered the consequences. The drugs probably clouded his judgment. I am still angry about Corwin's suicide. The Corwin I grew up with would never have done that. His head worked too well for such twisted thinking. No, Abe, drugs are bad. They cause intelligent people to do stupid if abusing them in the first place were not stupid enough.

Einzige said...

Those are good points, Chris, but again I think the focus is on the wrong thing.

Is it the drugs that are bad, or the drug abuse, and the fact that, due to the drug war, one has to go to great lengths to hide it?

You know something else that makes intelligent people do stupid things? Pussy! Is pussy therefore bad?

And, btw, my name is Einzige!