I have a lot of admiration for the intellect, passion, and compassion of Columbia University Professor Carl Hart, who is very open about his own use of drugs (including heroin). Until now, my understanding was that Dr. Hart had developed addiction early in life which he had overcome. After listening to this WNYC interview, I now understand that he continues to use drugs without much (if any) concern. I’ve got to admit to having very mixed feelings about the fact that a world-renowned expert researcher and academic on addiction discusses his own continuing use. I understand and support the need to have people from all backgrounds telling real stories in order to bring it out into the light of day, break stereotypes, and dispel stigma against drug use and addiction. I also am concerned about the message this sends about highly addictive substances which appear to generally wreak havoc and even death upon individuals, families, and communities. NIDA reports that 75% of people who use heroin do not develop an addiction disease. While I would want to know, I would be highly concerned to learn that my adult children were heroin users; and that they have little/no concern about potential negative consequences.
I invite you to listen to this interview, and then weigh in with your comments here to establish a dialogue/conversation. I appreciate your help. Have a wonderful day.
Interesting take on substance use. I’m not sure I agree with the professor but I am open to hearing more about what he might have to say. My biggest concern for clients with substance use disorders is there are no more appropriate facilities left that are affordable. Drugs have always been available
Thank you so much for your thoughtful comments, Susan. I’m impressed with your openness to a different viewpoint on drug use, which is essential in moving us forward to more understanding. That brings to mind the concept of multiple pathways to recovery; that when substance use is problematic, treatment approaches need to be individualized, as everyone is a unique person regardless of health or illness.
Provocative. I will think before I speak for sure.
Heidi, thank you so much for your audio listen and your immediate reaction. This is provocative, runs very much counter to ‘conventional wisdom’; and certainly surprised me. Your reaction impresses me as that of a thoughtful, open-minded person with a desire to learn about others’ experience even when it doesn’t match one’s own. I commend you on that positive quality so important to gain understanding, which will bring more ideas and potential solutions to light.
BRAVO, Mr. Doyle, for generating such relevant and timely opportunities for dialog.
Interesting; EVERY single drug was legal in the US until the Feds decided that they needed their ‘cut;’ beginning with the Harrison Narcotics Act of 1914. In fact, how many of history’s greatest works were penned/created while the artiste was ‘under the influence.’
Still, we can’t help but wonder if Dr. Hart is speaking from the bubble of ‘affordability’ on a platform that he wouldn’t have if he was the average individual impacted by a similar affliction.
It is, nevertheless, commendable that certain rare institutional ‘demigods’ ensconced firmly behind the sheltered walls of academia are willing to lift the ‘veil’ and expose the profound depths of their humanity.
Will this empower others to standUP and speakOUT about the challenges of substance use void of the ball-and-chain of stigma and looming threat of social ostracism? Once would only hope as much.
After all, HOPE springs ETERNAL!
Butterfly thank you so much for your insightful articulate comment, which certainly gives me a lot to think about; which is my hope, to start important conversations like this. I agree it is commendable and refreshing that Dr. Hart speaks out on such a taboo subject; especially in our climate of thought control, right vs. wrong, binary thinking. I suspect he must receive a large amount of pushback criticism and maybe worse, with feelings in this country running so high regarding Opioid drugs in general. Again, thanks for contributing to this conversation; come back soon!
From my perspective, given the unregulated drug market, advocating for recreational use of opioids is a non starter. With the growing prevelance of the street drug supply contaminated with illicit fentanyl analouges combined with the lack of will to make addiction treatment more readily available the risk is far too high to normalize heroin use. We are light years away from having a society where use can be at all considered safe. The explosion in illicit fentanyl related deaths is causing opioid hysteria and harming chronic pain patients. It is wonderful to advocate for personal choice, but also important to take Into account the impact of our personal choices on others.
Ken thanks so much for your valuable perspective! I share your concern about role modeling use of a drug that has had a devastating impact on people, families and society. And, I’m curious to learn more about how Dr. Hart has gone about making this decision which appears absurd on face value, and what he gets from it. Canada has made pharmaceutical-grade heroin available as a treatment for people with at least two unsuccessful attempts at methadone treatment in an effort to save lives: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/canada-approves-prescription-heroin-combat-opioid-crisis/story?id=42081755 Thank you again for joining the conversation; please come back soon.
Canada is on the right track. American prohibition of medical use of heroin is the origin of the black market and the problem we have now. Under the generic name diamorphine, heroin is prescribed as a strong pain medication in the United Kingdom, where it is given via subcutaneous, intramuscular, intrathecal or intravenously. Its use includes treatment for acute pain, such as in severe physical trauma, myocardial infarction, post-surgical pain, and chronic pain, including end-stage cancer and other terminal illnesses. America needs to quit using morals to judge chemicals and realize we are doing more harm than good.
Thanks again, Ken; I was unaware of its international use. Makes me wonder why three countries with such close ties don’t share their experiences with public health policy; it seems we could learn much by combining resources and knowledge. With the current serious challenges of pain management, criminal justice inequities, addiction, etc. the U.S. needs all hands (including international hands) on deck working cooperatively on solutions benefitting all.
You have heard me tell the story of how drugs impacted my family. I had to stop listening to this. Guess I am just not ready?
Cathleen, thank you so much for sharing your perspective; certainly understandable given your family’s personal experience with drugs. And maybe it’s not a matter of “not being ready”; your reaction is perfectly natural and would certainly be shared by many. There truly is no right nor wrong reaction to his perspective. He reports his purpose is to break down stereotypes of drug use. And I’m always learning about this topic. Thanks for sharing a very important reaction that is useful to hear. I hope you’ll also weigh in on other blog posts now and in the future. Continuing important conversations can sometimes be very difficult; and incredibly valuable at the same time.