“This Is the Beginning of the End of the War on Drugs”: Maia Szalavitz

at the intriguing new site Substance: For anyone interested in addiction and drug policy, the last year or so has been the most fascinating period in recent memory. Having kicked heroin and cocaine in 1988 and written about the subject ever since, I can’t remember a time when public opinion and actual policy have changed so quickly—and in such a rational direction.I’m not just talking about marijuana—although the fact that the Obama administration has allowed two states (Colorado and Washing … [Read more...]

Today’s Saint: John of God

Patron of the sick. Here's a painting by Murillo:and here's the obvious Shane McGowan contribution: … [Read more...]

Bet You Can’t Read Just One: Addiction/Recovery Link Round-Up

"International Geographic": I discovered that a lot of conditions which are simply a part of being an alcoholic are magnified by living in a foreign country. For example, the feeling of being terminally unique. In the town where I lived, I actually was extremely unique. There was nobody else like me. I got long stares at the grocery store, children stopped and pointed at me on their way to school. Every conversation began with, “Your nose is so big!” All the feelings I’d trained myself weren’t r … [Read more...]

Addiction and the Politics (and Poetics) of Personal Responsibility: me at AmCon

a listicle, and for some reason I saved the best stuff for the end, so feel free to hate me: There’s a narrative that comes up whenever addiction is discussed publicly nowadays: the narrative in which the disease of addiction essentially replaces a person’s free will.The barroom-wisdom version of it is the old line, “First the man takes a drink. Then the drink takes a drink. Then the drink takes the man.” A fairly heartbreaking version of it comes in this interview with author (and father of … [Read more...]

Five Things for Thursday

What I've been reading."Why Young Sexual Assault Victims Tell Incoherent Stories." When my alarmed parents sat me down to draw out every detail of what had happened, trying to construct a timeline and zeroing in on specific actions and body parts, I was terrified by their seriousness. The conversation was such an important one that we had it sitting right where we were when my sister brought up the subject: on the stairs. It’s hard to give an accurate account of something when you’re under t … [Read more...]

Seth Mnookin on Relapse and the Ghost World

One truism of addiction science is that long-term abuse rewires your brain and changes its chemistry, which is why triggers (or “associated stimuli,” in scientific parlance) are major risk factors for relapse. But these changes can be reversed over time. Walking past the apartment where my dealer used to live didn’t make me want to score; it made me feel as if I was in a phantasmagoria of two crosshatched worlds—but I was the only person who could see both realities. None of my colleagues at MIT, … [Read more...]

Random TV Note: “Elementary”

You know, I'm really enjoying this show. Stuff I like:* Let's be honest: My main thing that I like is the way Sherlock's addiction history and recovery are handled. I like that he's skeptical and combative about 12-steppery yet still does a lot of the hard work of it, the constant apologies (the first season of this show really was like that cartoon with the heterosexual date movie theater showing "Things Exploding/Men Apologizing") and amends. I loved his speech at the beginning of an … [Read more...]


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