| "Addicts are the scapegoat of our age."|
--Reverend Terence E. Tanner, London, 1979
Christian Science Monitor
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Paying The Piper
Horace Freeland Judson, Heroin Addiction In Britain, What Americans Can Learn from the English Experience. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973, 1974. To order, click here.
Like the other books from the early Seventies, Judson's was a vital part of the education that contributed to my becoming an active drug policy reformer. I read this book in its original incarnation as a series in The New Yorker and later in the form of this published volume, which is out of print. Like Edward Brecher, Horace Freeland Judson is a scientific journalist who has developed a deep knowledge of his subject by scholarly studies, trips into the streets and clinics, and interviews with experts. Judson, an American, wrote most of this study when he was living with his family in Meldreth, a village near Cambridge, England. When he showed up to be a guest lecturer at Christ's College in my third American University overseas institute on July 9, 1976, he had taken on the guise of a Cambridge University professor, at least in my untutored eyes. English accent and all.
His book reflects that ability to immerse himself in the cultures he is studying. In this case it was the fundamental and profound differences (as well as some striking similarities) between the two related cultures and how they start thinking about addicts and how they deal with them. In the process of taking that fascinating journalistic journey, Judson wanders into most of the intellectual and emotional issues about junkies that help explain the perverse manner in which American society, and because of us, most of the world, deal with them.
The book provided insight and guidance and encouragement for my later books and reform efforts. A few gems follow.
From the very first page of the preface: "In London, in the late 1960s, where I was working as a correspondent, I frequently read American reports about the British epidemic of heroin addiction and repeatedly found myself throwing down the newspaper or magazine in annoyance at what seemed to be simple, fundamental, chronic errors of fact. The irritation would not heal." And so Judson wrote his book and I am still working and writing to sooth my multiple irritations from the same type of sources. (I like to think that we both are like oysters and are producing pearls of wisdom in the process of dealing with these irritations.)
From the penultimate entry in the text: "In the course of a conversation I had at yet another English drug-dependence clinic, a doctor said something that seemed so natural that it was an hour later, as I was boarding a train in the London Underground, that I woke to what he had said, and to what an overturning of my American expectations it represented. The doctor told me, 'We have made it possible in this city for the addict to live without fear.' "
That one thought should be at the core of our policy toward drugs and drug addicts. It should motivate addicts and their families and loved ones to look calmly at the condition of addiction as a matter to be dealt with calmly and sensibly. It has profoundly influenced my life and work during the last three decades, as evidenced in the existence of The Trebach Institute and this web site.
Too much has changed in England since Judson wrote, especially the importation of intolerant American ideas about the war on drugs, but much remains the same, a duality I discuss in other parts of this site. (For example, see the material on the Hickey case.)
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