The Opposite to Addiction is Connection

21st April 2016

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I recently came across a great article in the Guardian about the book 'Chasing the Scream', by Johann Hari. I haven't read the book yet so can't give it a review but just reading the article you can grasp that it really shakes up the attitudes towards addicts and the approaches to treating drug addiction that up until now have really dominated scoeity.

Hari explains that 2016 marks the 100 year anniversary since drugs were banned in the United States and Britain, and that the war on drugs began, he writes:

“It's a century since we made this really fateful decision to take addicts and punish them and make them suffer, because we believe that that will deter them, and it would give them an incentive to stop.”

This approach, which has seen millions of people ostracised from communities over the world, stigmatised and treated abhorrently for being drug addicts, is finally being recognised as being futile, and often very dangerous.

The new scientific understanding which the author champions in his book is that ‘the opposite to addiction isn’t sobriety, it’s connection’.

Portugal, which had one of the worst drug problems in Europe, has tried this out for the last 15 years with remarkable results:

injecting drug use is down in Portugal, according to the British Journal of Criminology, by 50 percent, five-zero percent. Overdose is massively down, HIV is massively down among addicts. Addiction in every study is significantly down. One of the ways you know it's worked so well is that almost nobody in Portugal wants to go back to the old system.”

Incidentally, Hari was invited to do a TED talk which goes into much more details about all of this, it's been massively popular. He also has a website which includes all the interviews that make up the book. Please do have a look, they are both brilliant.

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