Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
I just got the following email, "Im 13 and need a quick fix. How do i extract Codeine from TEC-3 pills? I dont have access to pipes and hoses." Oh my God!

There are several problems with this. First, I don't believe in kids doing drugs. In fact, I'm not an advocate for anyone doing drugs. I just don't think that the society has a right to destroy the lives of those who choose to do drugs. I'll come back to that in my response. But the second problem is that I'm a fairly paranoid person. If someone tells me they are 13 years old, I can only assume they are trying to set me up. After all, anyone who has read my work would know that I think of my work as minimizing harm—not adding to it. So I think there are people out there who don't know what I do and just want to attack the whole harm reduction movement, "See: he just wants to get kids addicted to smack!"

Anyway, I wrote back:

Are you kidding me?! First, if you have read my site you know how much I hate this kind of stuff. Second, 13 year olds should be out having their hearts broken and struggling with basic algebra, not looking for a "quick fix"! Third, you are far too young to be doing any drugs at all. It is bad for your development. Trust me, you will have plenty of time later to destroy your life!

PLEASE, if you need help, get it. And regardless of what your age is: it is stupid to try to extract opioids from pills. It takes a lot of time and few people have the skills to do it. Here's my advice: get good grades, go to college, get a chemistry degree, and become Kid Charlemagne. THAT would be cool. What you're doing now is not.

Too harsh? I don't know. I've seen too many kids have their lives effectively destroyed by drugs because developmentally it is a curse. And for all you cannabis smokers, that's the drug they've mostly done: the "safe" and "harmless" drug. Anyway, it is better to dream of becoming a drug chemist than a junkie poet:


17 Jul 2013: Nonviolent Junkies

Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
It isn't the case that junkies are necessarily nonviolent, anymore than that is the case for any group—including Quakers. And it is certainly true that during detox, junkies can be cranky. But in general, the drug makes people, if anything, less violent. It often annoys me that all drugs are lumped into one group as though the effects are the same. And as though illegal drugs have anywhere near the effect as alcohol.

Anyway, I was pleased to read this in an article by Kevin Drum:

A trio of authors identified three major "drug eras" in New York City, the first dominated by heroin, which produced limited violence, and the second by crack, which generated spectacular levels of it.

I'm not sure about crack—it isn't my thing. But I'm glad to see someone acknowledging that heroin doesn't turn people into violent monsters.
Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
I've decided to try to integrate all my drug related writing (the politics anyway) over on my main site. Then I'll post links here. I'm also going to turn off comments here. The site is a spam magnet with 100+ spam comments for each real one.

Today, I posted the following article that I think readers here will be interested in:



It is about Sheff's new book Clean.

16 Feb 2013: American Heroin

Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
American Heroin - George Henry BorawskiA photography friend of mine, George Henry Borawski has an ongoing project of documenting "American Heroin." In fact, he is trying to get me to hit the road with him to do a book. That isn't a bad idea, but I have a lot of questions and concerns. My main concern is how we manage to not get arrested and murdered.

You all may have an answer to my big question: what would said book be about? The problem I see is that a simple chronicling of American heroin users would not be that interesting all on its own. What's more, I wouldn't want such a book focused on just the most intense of users. I am, as I always have been, most interested in infrequent users. Those are the people who the culture as a whole thinks not only don't exist but can't exist.

Anyway, check out George's newest batch of photos on his site. I'm sure he would be interested in any thoughts you might have.
Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
I was directed to an interesting website, Points: The Blog of the Alcohol and Drugs History Society. They had an article about Victorian Women on Drugs. It reminded me of much of my writing about drugs during that period (probably in Little Book of Opium). You might want to check out the site.

I wrote to my friend:

That's interesting. I've written a lot about this, of course. A common myth says that heroin was claimed to be a cure for morphine addiction. Similarly, morphine was said to be a cure for opium addiction. This isn't true of course. But opium was looked down upon as dirty—thanks in large part to its association with the Chinese, but also because it was a natural (herbal) drug. Morphine was seen as scientific and thus "western." Thus, many people in the Victorian period were glad when someone got off opium and onto morphine. What it shows above all else is that the biggest effect of these drugs is on other people in how they color their perceptions. Look at Long Day's Journey into Night. Long before I had any experience with drugs, it seemed to me that it was the rest of the family that had the real problem. So mom wanted to live life in a quasi-dream state? You would think by the reactions of the rest of the family that she was dragging them with her.

Taking matters up to today, I have heard any number of conservatives claim that maybe cannabis is a useful drug. But certainly if it were to be acceptable, doctors would put it into a pill form. You know: pill = good; smoke = bad. It would be hilarious if it weren't so evil.

If anyone has video of anyone talking about how we have to turn cannabis into a pill, please post it!

27 Jan 2013: Murder in Bali

Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
The BBC reported last week, Bali Drugs: Lindsay Sandiford Death Sentence Criticised. I'm sure most of you have heard about it. I have not wanted to write about it because it is so vile. As the report says, "A death sentence handed down in Bali to a British grandmother found guilty of drug trafficking has been condemned by the UK government." I'm just not sure what the Bali government thinks that it is accomplishing with this.

In general, people don't traffic in 5 kg of cocaine if they have an option. It makes a lot more sense to just be an executive at HSBC, where you can work for drug dealers without the worry of even losing your job, much less going to jail or being murdered. Of course, I don't have much sympathy for the United Kingdom. Most of the drug war hysteria of the last many decades is a direct result of the actions of western powers (the US primarily). Not that I think that Indonesia isn't capable of their own homegrown oppression.

I always think that something like this travesty is a direct result of the people I see screaming on the TV that drug dealers are like serial killers. We're all culpable—every fucking one of us. But some are far more so, and I'm not thinking of anyone in Bali right now.
Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
This really has nothing to do with this site, but I'm very pleased with it. It is a parody of a TV spot for Zero Dark Thirty. It isn't funny, it's political. And if you don't pay attention, you won't even notice. All the quotes are real:


10 Jan 2013: Bread and Heroin

Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
This is very funny. But on a serious level: it is really difficult to distinguish food from drugs. It is all metabolism.

Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
Dylan Matthews over at Wonk Blog reports, The Economic Case for Decriminalizing Heroin. It talks about an economic model that finds that drug use would be no higher if they were legalized but taxed up in price. This is not exactly a new idea, but I'm glad it is getting to coverage.

Just the same, I think it is largely bullshit. I accept that heroin purchasers are as rational are broccoli purchasers. But I don't accept is that either are all that rational. What's more, it is only academics and highly paid reporters who think that the only cost users face are found in the street price of the drug. The potential of three years in prison, for example, greatly adds to the price of a gram of dope.

The other side of this is that much of the benefit of allowing users to have their drugs at the fair market (cheap) price would be gone in such a situation. The point with opioids is it is the price alone that stops users from having otherwise normal lives. But really, do we as a society forbid drugs because we want to limit addiction? I don't think so. Providing government supplied drugs to be done in government supplied rooms would not increase addiction. In fact, it might reduce it. But we don't do that.

Don't take this to mean that I'm against legalization (or decriminalization as proposed in the article). But this discussion treats drug users as nothing more than a problem to be solved. I think we can go a lot further looking at the problems that drug users face. What I would like to see first is methadone maintenance on demand for anyone of any income level. Such program would cost a pittance. Even assuming a worse case scenario, it would cost no more than a hundred million dollars per year. It is a sane policy that no reasonable person would be against. Thus, I'm sure it would never win support in the United States.

Our society does not approach drugs in any kind of reasonable way. So any reasonable argument to improve the situation is useless. I'll be happy to be proven wrong.
Category: General
Posted by: Dr. H
Hey there folks. I know: I never call, I never write. But the truth is that most of what I have to say fits just fine over at FC. But not always.

I was just watching a discussion of new gun laws on The Ed Show, and this law enforcement officer was talking about how it was important to keep guns away from felons and the mentally unstable. I bristle at this. We have a country that has largely made it illegal to be black, brown, or poor. It isn't that I think felons really need guns. But I do hate this special carve out in our society: the unworthy. And most of these people are now and forever more defined as outsiders just because of their drug choices. This is madness.

It also bugged me that she was saying we need to keep guns out of the hands of felons because of those "20 beautiful children" who were killed. I'm all for gun laws. But in the case of Sandy Hook, none of the gun laws suggested would have done a damn thing to help. What's more, this call to make "assault rifles" illegal drives me crazy. As far as I can tell, an assault rifle is like obscenity: impossible to define but people know it when they see it.

Look: if these proposed laws make us safer, I'm fine with them. But I fear that just like after 9/11, what we will get are a bunch of laws that make us a whole lot less free but not a bit more safe.

And in the end, these people will come after the felons because they are an easy target. And that's America all over: searching under the light for the keys it dropped a block away; it may be useless, but the light is better. Although in this case: it is useless, but it makes them feel better.