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The "Most Addictive" Drug Nonsense

(a.k.a. "How I Quit Smoking On My Own")

Tuesday, January 31, 2005 - dr.bomb

Peter McWilliams was a rare find of a writer. His book, Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do, is now what I regard as the REAL BIG BOOK in regards to consensual "crimes". Never did I realize how far-ranging that one simple idea could be and how our own government has gone out of control. From a government which minded its own business now turned into a busybody entity which is now destined to interfere with one's own life for their own good, it is a book which places the whole idea of reduced government into perspective.(1)

Unfortunately, McWilliams undermines his own premise of the addictiveness of tobacco as compared to other drugs. The obvious fact ignored not just by McWilliams but also by many people within the charade known as the addictions field as well as the public at large is that the whole idea of "most addictive drug" is a whole load of malarkey. The simple obvious fact is that, to the current addict, the most addictive substance doesn't mean a damn thing outside of their current favorite. And, being currently addicted, means that there's something new to try if they believe that they didn't their true bottom or wish to toy with the idea of a loophole for chemically-induced pleasure. With that stupid idea in mind it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

The hyped-up argument of nicotine's addictive properties is simply that: Hype, steeped in liberal political correctness, which was the cornerstone of the anti-tobacco litigation. Ironically, if it wasn't for that political brouhaha, I wouldn't have motivated myself to quit nicotine in all of its forms. Therefore, 1996 was a great year for me. It was not only the year when I became politically aware but also the year I quit smoking.

A brief political aside: Electronic communication has always been a hobby of mine since I was an avid dialup BBS user and sysop in the early 1990s. When Internet access suddenly became publically accessible I found myself with dreams of being able to FTP files from various servers from around the world from one dialup connection. That limited view expanded when I realized the potential of the World Wide Web to be as revolutionary as Gutenberg's printing press in regards to affordable worldwide communications right from the desktop.

It was in late 1995 when a bunch of idiotic Congress-critters were duped by a botched study by Martin Rimm, hyped by Time magazine's Philip Elmer-DeWitt, which alleged the scourge of pornography on the Internet by citing lists of adult files on adult dialup BBSes. Two idiots with the names of Exon and Coates bought into the hype and helped draft legislation which was to become a part of the Telecommunications Act Of 1996 known as the Communications Decency Act based on Rimm's erroneous "apples & oranges" data and conclusions. When President William Jefferson Clinton signed the Act into law in January 1996 I was furious! How can ANYONE be that stupid?(2)

Just that move alone prompted me into joining the ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation doing what I could to defend free speech on the 'net. Never did I realize that I would find myself not only finding my anti-censorship views being affirmed but also my own Republican party affiliation being threatened as I learned more about the GOP's positions (I only was a Republican at the time only because my family was Republican). I found myself pushed to the margins as I found that my own atheism was seen by the GOP as, in George Bush Sr.'s remarks, anti-American.(3) The more I read the more I realized that I never could be as bigoted, xeno- and homophobic as my bretheren. Repulsed with that knowledge in the fall of 1996 I switched party affiliations, registered as a Democrat and grudgingly voted for Clinton in November of that year despite his transgressions.

Officially, from October 13, 1996 to June 16, 2005, I was a partisan liberal Democrat and activist. That meant that I wondered why such Republicans who claimed to praise Jesus would hate me. I realized that it was okay to hate them back and thus I saw the GOP as a bunch of blinded-by-religion thugs. That position became solidified as information concerning the litigation against Big Tobacco was being released. Curious, I checked out opensecrets.org and found that these so-called "pro-life" thugs were beneficiaries from Big Tobacco's largess. And, being addicted to nicotine at the time, that very notion of me having that money I paid for my packs and rolls trickle-down to fund the Rapethuglican war chest deeply offended me.

I knew it was time to throw-down against that nicotine addiction. I made myself a pact that I would NEVER buy and use another tobacco product ever again in light of that knowledge. It was all or nothing as I proceeded to quit cold turkey. For a couple of days I felt the struggle yet it wasn't me fighting against it: It was IT fighting against ME...and IT was losing badly! And I felt it trying to convince me to light up or chew some more of its precious. I laughed and taunted it: "I'm willing to take a bullet to be FREE from your asses! I'm willing to feel ABSOLUTELY MISERABLE and you Rapethuglicans can't make me put that shit in my mouth! Pro-life my ass!" At the end of the week IT surrendered and I felt wonderful! FREE AT LAST!(4)

If there's anything to be learned in my being a Democrat at the time it's that even political correctness can be a very good thing in defeating addiction. When you realize that your own integrity is threatened by a bad habit of yours you realize that it's better to not be a hypocrite and just do the right thing and not just claim to stand for what you believe in. You gotta act accordingly. And, unlike my "Degenerat" spineless peacenik hippy bretheren at the time (I guess that's what passes for "New" Democrats nowadays), that also means fighting for what you believe in. That means accepting the role of being an unreasonable person in other peoples' minds.

Now back to McWilliam's assertion of nicotine's addictiveness: Is nicotine really as addictive as heroin? Through my own experience I found the assertion, that some drugs are more addictive than others, to be false. It's easy for those who have successfully quit smoking to turn the argument around and wonder, "Since I was able to quit smoking then it must be just as easy to quit heroin." By doing so they reveal yet another Big Lie which is nothing more than the lore of the neo-prohibitionist recovery group movement, its "war" to save others from inanimate liquids, leaves and powders ("The War On Some Drugs"), and its business arm known as the addiction treatment industry which profits from addicted peoples' desperation. Big Tobacco, likewise, benefits from the Big Lie enormously by charging more and more using the ruse that tobacco consumers will quit when the price becomes too high. They know that those who believe that they are hooked forever on nicotine will spend whatever money for their next fix.

Conversely, when people find that ambivalence within their own head going strong ("I want to quit...BUT I CAN'T!") and turning into desperation they'll gladly throw their money into useless "treatments" such as gums, patches, audio presentations and counseling. Yes, they'll do anything and everything (nothing more than elaborate forms of procrastination) instead of taking the genuinely risk-free cost-effective action of going it alone by kicking the habit cold turkey. The pharmesutical industry, purveyors of the various drugs (including pharmesutical-grade nicotine preparations) to "treat" drug addictions (as in, prolonging them), certainly benefits from that arrangement. Even the RGM/ATI has taken notice by offering Twelve Step groups and "smoking cessation" classes within their indoctrination facilities with a friendly "keep coming back" and bill for services rendered each and every time.

It's here where McWilliams contradicts himself and overlooks a huge fact: He is aware that, according to his book, that 40,000,000 people have successfully quit smoking.(5) And nicotine is as addictive as heroin? Looks like these quitters know something that the RGM/ATI deliberately withholds information on in order to keep the "war" going on and violating clients' legal right to Informed Consent in the process. And, if these nicotine addicts quit once and for all with no ill effect then what's the heroin users' excuse? Listen carefully and follow the bouncing dollar sign and you'll find that it pays to spread the Big Lie, the beneficiaries being the recovery group movement, the addiction treatment industry, and the neo-prohibitionist movement known as "The War On Some Drugs". Think of how many people would wind up unemployed when the various industries and propaganda are rendered as obsolete as the buggy whip!

Even he ignored his quote of Andrew Weil M.D. who fallaciously claimed that kids who start smoking have a 15% chance of remaining non-smokers (Uhh, the smoking kids are NOT non-smokers now! They're smoking! The real question is, "When will they quit?")(6) Also, it appears that he ignored the entire interview he reprinted in full between William F. Buckley, Jr. and Andrew W. Thompson, Professor of Psychiatry (Neuroscience) at Dartmouth Medical School, where the myth of crack cocaine being the "most addictive" drug is nothing more than a propaganda-fueled paranoia-based fantasy.(7) Finally, McWilliams supports the harm-reduction movement's wet dream of having doctors fill out prescriptions on recreational drugs, opening the highly unethical door to Medicare/Medicaid/insurance industry subsidies towards other peoples' bad habits, removing one's own personal responsibility for that bad habit in the first place and thus contradicting his book's basic premise.(8)

Stanton Peele, Ph.D., author of The Truth About Addiction And Recovery, even gets into the act of contradicting the notion that people do indeed quit smoking cold turkey on their own without the associated nonsense of the RGM/ATI. For example, he cites the story of his uncle Oscar a.k.a. "Uncle Ozzie" as an example of how people take moral action as an affirmation of personal integrity to end an addiction once and for all:

"A man we know affectionately as Uncle Ozzie quit smoking in his early forties after maintaining a three-pack-a-day habit for a quarter-century, from the time he was a teenager. Ozzie worked at a bench, a proud and devoted union man--indeed, he was shop steward. One day, when the price of cigarettes had been raised, Ozzie prepared to put additional coins in a machine to purchase a pack. A co-worker observing Ozzie joked, "Look at Oscar, the sucker! He'd pay any price for a smoke. The tobacco companies have him by the balls!"
Ozzie turned to the man, looked at him for a moment, and said, "You're right. I'm going to quit."
"Then can I have that pack of cigarettes?" his co-worker teased.
"What, and throw away the money I just spent?" Ozzie replied.
Ozzie smoked that pack, but he has never smoked again since that day over thirty years ago. In that moment of awakening, the contradiction between his smoking addiction and the value he placed on independence from management and corporate power loomed so large that he could no longer ignore it. From that point on, to continue smoking--to admit that the "bosses" controlled his life--would have been more painful than to quit.
"
-- Stanton Peele, Ph.D., "Smoking: The Toughest Habit To Lick?", pp. 107-108 The Truth About Addiction And Recovery

Not really lurid, right? Certainly not the usual overly-dramatic stories of a man desperate for a fix. And Peele knows this. Disappointed, he immediately follows the above anecdote with this paragraph of pure unfounded assertion:

"Uncle Ozzie claims that he never thought about quitting until the day he actually quit. Still, the story a person tells years later may idealize the process, just hitting the high points rather than tracing the evolution of consciousness that went on both before and after the climactic moment. Well before he smoked his last pack, Ozzie may have had glimpses of how he was harming his family and his health by smoking."
-- Stanton Peele, Ph.D., "Smoking: The Toughest Habit To Lick?", pp. 108 The Truth About Addiction And Recovery

Well, if Ozzie did have doubt and guilt outside of his own co-workers' concerns he certainly would have expressed them. Instead, Peele sticks with the stereotype of the typical "addict" who lies and underplays the addiction itself, wanting for some form of internal tormented struggle to spice up the proceedings.

The irony is that this is his same uncle he profiled within his earlier book, Diseasing of America, published in 1989 two years prior to Truth. So here's what Peele left out of his later book's narrative regarding his uncle's motivation in quitting smoking:

"Why did my uncle quit that day? It's hard to say. He claims that in that time and place (he worked on a General Electric assembly line, and all of his coworkers smoked), he had never once thought about quitting. But I think I know something about the underlying values that made him quit. For Ozzie to be told--and more important, to believe--that his behavior meant he was a sucker to American tobacco conglomerates was equivalent to his realizing he was under the control of those he hated most, and that his union activism (indeed, his entire life) was being compromised. Imagine if a Jewish smoker discovered that the Nazis owned the companies that made cigarettes and were trying to addict all Jews! This is something like the reaction my uncle had.
I often jokingly summarize this story for addiction audiences by saying, "This story makes clear that the best way to quit smoking is to become a communist." Of course, the joke is that only for a very strong anticompany, pro-union activist like my uncle could a sense of servitude to the capitalist system serve as the motivation to quit smoking. But my facetious claim is really quite close to the common claim that the best way to get everyone to quit drinking is to force them to join A.A.. A.A. works for those with salient religious values, who place God in the middle of their decisions, and who favor group confessionals. Others often think A.A. rituals are foolish, even offensive--just as they would if we made them join the Communist Party. (Several people have now sued to reverse state regulations requiring them to attend A.A. on the grounds that these violate their religious freedom.)
"
-- Stanton Peele, Ph.D., "How People Quit Addictions", pp. 189-190 Diseasing Of America

This is proof positive that Peele damn well knows that ending an addiction can be as spontaneous as that, thus making him a liar through omission and a hypocrite by changing the narrative of Uncle Ozzie's story to "idealize" Peele's Life Process Program. After all, as mentioned by McWilliams, 40,000,000 have successfully quit smoking without any nonsense and fanfare. Heck, even true-believer disease theory charlatans acknowledge that fact by euphemistically calling quitting "spontaneous remission".

Likewise, the case against coerced recovery group attendance is made yet again. I agree that no one should be coerced into a religious organization such as A.A. to quit drinking just as no one should be coerced into joining a political party to quit smoking, much less any bad habit. Having to adopt a foreign philosophy only complicates the simple matter of never using again. One is more likely to quit based upon their own personal values and beliefs rather than those of others, thus internalizing that decision to quit and making that decision stick on moral grounds. Your life is your own and no one elses. You don't need other peoples' religion or politics for that.

As for the heroin-nicotine connection, Peele cites a study of self-recovered former heroin addicts within Truth which also undermines the credibility of the addictiveness of tobacco via the analogy to heroin. And, when read with Uncle Ozzie's story in mind, these facts contradict the myth that there's any drama to be found in quitting a heroin, nicotine or any other addiction for that matter:

"The common belief that no one can overcome heroin addiction except through treatment has been conclusively disproved by sociologists Dan Waldorf and Patrick Biernacki, who interviewed hundreds of untreated ex-addicts in California. In his 1986 book, Pathways From Heroin Addiction: Recovery Without Treatment, Biernacki lists the following among his findings, each of which attacks a key inaccuracy in our conceptions of narcotics use:(9)

  • Addicts can and do recover "naturally"--on their own without the aid of any therapeutic intervention.

  • Naturally recovered former addicts are relatively easy to find and interview.

  • Addicts are not alike in character or lifestyle.

  • All addicts do not undergo the same social careers or become equally affected by their addiction.

  • Some addicts lead basically "straight" lives, that is, they are not criminals.

  • Some people drift in and out of their addiction without much conscious thought or consideration.

  • Some addicts can and do overcome cravings to use opiates when they are abstinent and thereby avoiding relapsing.

  • Addict folklore and professional understandings do not adequately explain those addicts who have quit on their own.

  • Some people who have stopped their addiction to opiates do not continue to think of themselves as addicted."

-- Stanton Peele, Ph.D., "Which Is The Most Addictive Drug Of All?", pp. 80-81 The Truth About Addiction And Recovery

These are eye-opening facts in regards to an actual study of a self-recovered population. But why does Peele contradict himself, even going as far as lying about his uncle's motivations? I'll guess that just like any other capitalist he wouldn't be able to sell his Life Process Program if people knew how easy it is to just KNOCK IT OFF once and for all and were informed that it isn't as awe-inspiring or as frightening as it's often hyped within the state/corporate-owned and subsidised mass media. This contradiction also renders nearly a third of Truth's text irrelevant. Diseasing of America does a far superior job of performing that duty and I recommend it over Truth. Therefore, Truth winds up being redundant and inferior when compared to its predecessor.

Obvious, with all of these special interests in mind, the hype of addiction serves only to fuel the self-doubt of the person who is addicted. As long as people believe that addiction is some cunning, baffling, powerful menace then, driven by desperation, deception and dollars, the Big Lie will persist. When one pierces through that self-doubt and realizes that it is nothing more than an appetite which is harmless until it's acted upon then the nonsense of substance addiction, ranging from alcohol to heroin nicotine and beyond, becomes something as easily discarded as toilet paper.

And yes, even knowledgeable people like Peter McWilliams can be fooled too. Don't get fooled again and enjoy Jack Trimpey's work instead. Quitting heroin is as easy as quitting smoking, and vice versa! ;->

Footnotes:

1) Again, despite its assertions concerning addiction, McWilliams's book is still the best book which documents how far my wonderful United States' government has gone astray. Read it online at http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint/.

2) It's ironic that two years later President Clinton's infidelity with his wife surfaced in his finger-wagging denial to Sam Donaldson during a press conference and was confirmed when the physical evidence was revealed that summer. Mind you, of all the things considered to be impeachable offenses, who'd thought that lying about a consensual blowjob would be one of them? And the spineless Degenerats didn't compare that with Watergate and Iran-Contra? Anyhow, for someone to dictate that one can't be trusted with what they may view online in the privacy of their own life while one was violating their own marriage vows, while not criminal in and of itself, reeks of sheer hypocrisy. At least Salon Magazine and Larry Flynt had the guts to expose the truth of the affairs Clinton's accusers got away with.

3) George H.W. Bush's quote from 1987: "No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered as patriots. This is one nation under God." From http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/quotes/scar_b.htm

4) Meanwhile I was still drinking like a fish. I didn't quit drinking until October 2003. But, just for giggles, here are PAC details via opensecrets.org for the beer, wine and liquor industries. I can now live down my hypocrisy at the time.

5) "Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do", pp. 594 (http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint/406.htm)

6) ibid, pp. 589 (http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint/406.htm)

7) ibid., pp. 302-314 (http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint/303b.htm)

8) ibid., pp. 597 (http://www.mcwilliams.com/books/books/aint/406.htm)

9} P. Biernacki, Pathways From Heroin Addiction: Recovery Without Treatment (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1986) pp. 7

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Last updated 2006/01/31

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