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Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Johann Hari

Top 10 Best Quotes

“It isn’t the drug that causes the harmful behavior—it’s the environment. An isolated rat will almost always become a junkie. A rat with a good life almost never will, no matter how many drugs you make available to him. As Bruce put it: he was realizing that addiction isn’t a disease. Addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you—it’s the cage you live in.”

“The opposite of addiction isn’t sobriety. It’s connection.”

“punishment—shaming a person, caging them, making them unemployable—traps them in addiction. Taking that money and spending it instead on helping them to get jobs and homes and decent lives makes it possible for many of them to stop.”

“It is a natural human instinct to turn our fears into symbols, and destroy the symbols, in the hope that it will destroy the fear. It is a logic that keeps recurring throughout human history, from the Crusades to the witch hunts to the present day.”

“More than 50 percent of Americans have breached the drug laws. Where a law is that widely broken, you can’t possibly enforce it against every lawbreaker. The legal system would collapse under the weight of it. So you go after the people who are least able to resist, to argue back, to appeal—the poorest and most disliked groups. In the United States, they are black and Hispanic people, with a smattering of poor whites.”

“the core of addiction doesn’t lie in what you swallow or inject—it’s in the pain you feel in your head. Yet we have built a system that thinks we will stop addicts by increasing their pain. “If I had to design a system that was intended to keep people addicted, I’d design exactly the system that we have right now,”

“How do we start to rebuild a society where we don’t feel so alone and afraid, and where we can form healthier bonds? How do we build a society where we look for happiness in one another rather than in consumption?”

“for each traumatic event that happened to a child, they were two to four times more likely to grow up to be an addicted adult.”

“If your problem is being chronically starved of social bonds, then part of the solution is to bond with the heroin itself and the relief it gives you. But a bigger part is to bond with the subculture that comes with taking heroin—the tribe of fellow users all embarked on the same mission and facing the same threats and risking death every day with you. It gives you an identity. It gives you a life of highs and lows, instead of relentless monotony. The world stops being indifferent to you, and starts being hostile—which is at least proof that you exist, that you aren’t dead already. The heroin helps users deal with the pain of being unable to form normal bonds with other humans. The heroin subculture gives them bonds with other human beings.”

“Addiction is an adaptation. It’s not you—it’s the cage you live in.”

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