| "Addicts are the scapegoat of our age."|
--Reverend Terence E. Tanner, London, 1979
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Paying The Piper
Andrew Weil, M.D. & Winifred Rosen, From Chocolate to Morphine, Everything You Need to Know About Mind-Altering Drugs. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1998 Edition.To order, click here.
This is a unique, startling, and very helpful book. It is well written. You can read it from cover to cover in a few long sessions and you will be a better person for the effort. Of course, it covers much of the material that other listed books here deal with, but the treatment is fresh and authoritative.
The authors - a now-famous medical doctor-celebrity and a writer of youth books - set out in the early 80s to create a sensible, honest book for young people about the whole range of drugs they might encounter in modern society. In my view they succeeded admirably. In the views of many others, this book is dangerous to the health and welfare of the youth of America - and of any other country that allows its young to read such seductive contraband.
There have been campaigns to keep it out of schools and libraries. President Reagan's drug czar said to me that he thought the book was "obscene."
In the book, Weil and Rosen stated that they knew it would probably provoke some controversy. They continued: "The controversy will probably center on the question of whether giving this information to young people will encourage them to try or to use drugs. The truth about drugs cannot do harm. It may offend sensibilities and disturb those who do not want to hear it but it cannot hurt people. On the other hand, false information can and does lead people to hurt themselves and others."
I very much agree with that position, which explains a good deal about how I have approached the drug issue for almost three decades. In my work, like these authors, I have tried to combat what I term "prophylactic lies" promulgated by government officials and leading medical experts about the true nature of many drugs.
At the same time I must admit that sections of the book made me uncomfortable - in the same manner that frank and open talk with young people about sex sometimes does. Many of my young students (among the hundreds I required to read the book) felt the same way, even the most liberal of them. It may be that many of us are trained not to talk too openly and specifically about certan types of unpunished great pleasure.
The book is not only for the young -- but for anyone seeking a fresh view of the drug universe. Many of the most popular prescription drugs are discussed in clear language.
As usual, I disagree with parts of this book, also. For example, Dr. Weil continues to reveal his dislike of maintaining heroin addicts on such drugs as methadone. In my view, maintenance drugs have salvaged the lives of many addicts and their loves one. However, all of my disagreements do not detract from my appreciation for the overall worth of this book.
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