High Price – Drugs, Neuroscience and discovering myself. DR Carl Hart.
High Price – Drugs, Neuroscience and discovering myself.
DR Carl Hart.
I still get pleasantly surprised by some of the books related to the subject of addiction, and this book certainly did that! It certainly was not what I was expecting, and actually disagreed with some of the points he has made about addiction when I began the book, but by the end I could see his point of view, and feel that he is correct in much of what he says. That makes it a rather convincing book, by my standards! I would recommend this book to people who want to know why America’s war against drugs has failed so badly, and why people develop substance abuse problems.
A lot of the first part of the book is about Dr Harts background, which is certainly not the usual path to academic success. He comes from poor background, and really changed direction in life as a result of joining the airforce. This is actually similar to my own father’s background who did not have a good education thanks to Nazis, but who managed to change his life after being in the Navy. Part of the airforce work took him to UK and he talks about the differences with racism between the UK and USA and his experiences. Dr Hart is the same age as me, and we may have even gone to the same concerts.
His background and experience with some his friends being dragged into substance abuse, have given him a different perspective, to many academics studying the subject. There are many ideas in the addiction field, that are not really proven and do not stand up to scientific examination. Dr Hart came up with a completely different way of measuring what drives addiction. He examines the relationship between drugs and pleasure, choice, and motivation, both in the brain and in society. His findings shed new light on common ideas about race, poverty, and drugs, and explain why current policies are failing.
He is certainly not in favour of the disease theory about addiction, and makes a convincing case for the effects of environment which is something that I have always thought myself. He is certainly not a fan of Reagan and the damage he did to American society, which was influenced by Thatcher here. I think he is right to believe that environment and the lack of choices affect the way that many people find their way into addiction.
I found the background to his experiments and the way they evolved fascinating. Too many people just accept existing ideas about addiction and seem to try to come up with something, that they hope will prove the point they are attempting to make. The brain disease concept would be a good example of people attempting to prove something with brain imaging and yet failing to prove anything worthy. Thankfully people such as Dr Carl Hart can come up with meaningful experiments and help people with their conclusions. Things need to change and quickly as addiction problems are growing, but there is a general reluctance to change some of the old approaches to treat them, that are not really working.
I look forward to seeing what he does next and will be keeping an eye on his website here. http://www.drcarlhart.com
He has recently done a good podcast which is worth listening to http://www.recoveringfromrecovery.com/dr-carl-hart-and-the-truth-about-addictions/Google+