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Drug Use for Grown-Ups : Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear
by Carl L. Hart




Overview -
"Hart's argument that we need to drastically revise our current view of illegal drugs is both powerful and timely . . . when it comes to the legacy of this country's war on drugs, we should all share his outrage." --The New York Times Book Review

From one of the world's foremost experts on the subject, a powerful argument that the greatest damage from drugs flows from their being illegal, and a hopeful reckoning with the possibility of their use as part of a responsible and happy life

Dr. Carl L. Hart, Ziff Professor at Columbia University and former chair of the Department of Psychology, is one of the world's preeminent experts on the effects of so-called recreational drugs on the human mind and body. Dr. Hart is open about the fact that he uses drugs himself, in a happy balance with the rest of his full and productive life as a researcher and professor, husband, father, and friend. In Drug Use for Grown-Ups, he draws on decades of research and his own personal experience to argue definitively that the criminalization and demonization of drug use--not drugs themselves--have been a tremendous scourge on America, not least in reinforcing this country's enduring structural racism.

Dr. Hart did not always have this view. He came of age in one of Miami's most troubled neighborhoods at a time when many ills were being laid at the door of crack cocaine. His initial work as a researcher was aimed at proving that drug use caused bad outcomes. But one problem kept cropping up: the evidence from his research did not support his hypothesis. From inside the massively well-funded research arm of the American war on drugs, he saw how the facts did not support the ideology. The truth was dismissed and distorted in order to keep fear and outrage stoked, the funds rolling in, and Black and brown bodies behind bars.

Drug Use for Grown-Ups will be controversial, to be sure: the propaganda war, Dr. Hart argues, has been tremendously effective. Imagine if the only subject of any discussion about driving automobiles was fatal car crashes. Drug Use for Grown-Ups offers a radically different vision: when used responsibly, drugs can enrich and enhance our lives. We have a long way to go, but the vital conversation this book will generate is an extraordinarily important step.

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More About Drug Use for Grown-Ups by Carl L. Hart

 
 
 

Overview

"Hart's argument that we need to drastically revise our current view of illegal drugs is both powerful and timely . . . when it comes to the legacy of this country's war on drugs, we should all share his outrage." --The New York Times Book Review

From one of the world's foremost experts on the subject, a powerful argument that the greatest damage from drugs flows from their being illegal, and a hopeful reckoning with the possibility of their use as part of a responsible and happy life

Dr. Carl L. Hart, Ziff Professor at Columbia University and former chair of the Department of Psychology, is one of the world's preeminent experts on the effects of so-called recreational drugs on the human mind and body. Dr. Hart is open about the fact that he uses drugs himself, in a happy balance with the rest of his full and productive life as a researcher and professor, husband, father, and friend. In Drug Use for Grown-Ups, he draws on decades of research and his own personal experience to argue definitively that the criminalization and demonization of drug use--not drugs themselves--have been a tremendous scourge on America, not least in reinforcing this country's enduring structural racism.

Dr. Hart did not always have this view. He came of age in one of Miami's most troubled neighborhoods at a time when many ills were being laid at the door of crack cocaine. His initial work as a researcher was aimed at proving that drug use caused bad outcomes. But one problem kept cropping up: the evidence from his research did not support his hypothesis. From inside the massively well-funded research arm of the American war on drugs, he saw how the facts did not support the ideology. The truth was dismissed and distorted in order to keep fear and outrage stoked, the funds rolling in, and Black and brown bodies behind bars.

Drug Use for Grown-Ups will be controversial, to be sure: the propaganda war, Dr. Hart argues, has been tremendously effective. Imagine if the only subject of any discussion about driving automobiles was fatal car crashes. Drug Use for Grown-Ups offers a radically different vision: when used responsibly, drugs can enrich and enhance our lives. We have a long way to go, but the vital conversation this book will generate is an extraordinarily important step.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101981641
  • ISBN-10: 1101981644
  • Publisher: Penguin Press
  • Publish Date: January 2021
  • Page Count: 304
  • Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.15 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

Drug Use for Grown-Ups

As more and more states across the country legalize marijuana, and as popular opinion toward the war on drugs sours, Dr. Carl L. Hart’s new book arrives at the perfect time. In Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear, Hart makes a thoughtful and persuasive (if controversial) case that everything we’ve been taught about drug use is wrong and that it’s high time we legalize all drugs and consider a more humane way forward.

Hart, a scientist and a professor of neuroscience at Columbia University, is an expert in drug abuse and addiction. He’s also a recreational drug user. Through careful research and illuminating personal stories, Hart dispels many drug myths and shows us that happiness can be found through responsible drug use, just as through drinking alcohol responsibly. He argues that if we truly believe in liberty as established in the Declaration of Independence, then the pursuit of this particular happiness should also be part of our protected civil liberties.


ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: We chatted with Dr. Carl L. Hart about the war on drugs, the stigma of being a drug user and the pursuit of happiness in the United States.


Even though we mostly hear about the dangers of drugs, most drug users are functional adults who experience no negative effects from their drug use, according to Hart’s research. He also posits that illegal drugs are dangerous because they are illegal, not because they are inherently dangerous substances. What makes a drug truly dangerous is its unregulated quality and potency, as well as ignorance about mixing drugs. Hart laments the opioid crisis in his book, while arguing that most overdoses and deaths related to drug use wouldn’t occur if the person knew what they were taking. He also suggests that opioid deaths and other overdoses would decrease if people had access to regulated opioid products, rather than forms of the drug that are laced with powerful and sometimes deadly additives.

Hart’s scientific training and personal use of drugs has informed his research and opinions, but the book is also shaped by his experience as a Black man. Although drug use is popular across all races, Black people—and Black men in particular—have been penalized for possessing and selling drugs at far higher rates than any other group. Hart convincingly asserts that this discriminatory enforcement of drug laws has had a more devastating effect on Black communities than drug use itself.

Drug Use for Grown-Ups argues that it makes no sense to continue the war on drugs, which has failed to put even a dent in the illegal drug trade. Throughout history, people have always taken drugs, and they are a part of our society. This book’s soundly researched views on a safer approach to drug use and regulation will have many readers rethinking their assumptions.

 

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