A Choice or a Disease?

  A Choice or a Disease?

Posted by CN Staff on September 24, 2003 at 20:49:17 PT
By Meagan Balink, Colorado Daily Campus Editor 
Source: Colorado Daily  

Psychologist and author Jeffrey Schaler is scheduled to make a proclamation to the campus community tonight that has already rocked the American medical and mental health establishments.In his talk "Addiction is a Choice: The blame game, drug war and other horrors," Schaler will tell the Princeton Review's number-one party school that drug and alcohol addiction is based on choice and is not a medical disease.
"Just because you take a drug and it has a particular effect doesn't mean you needed that particular drug, just because it makes you feel better," says Schaler. "That is a lie perpetuated by pharmaceutical companies, psychiatrists and psychologists that believe this."Schaler, who believes in abolishing drug prohibition by legalizing street drugs such as cocaine and marijuana, says people have the right to put whatever they want in their bodies and minds, so long as they don't hurt other people in the process.Brian Schwartz, an officer with Campus Libertarians, which is sponsoring Schaler's visit, says the psychologist's perspective is particularly relevant to the CU community, given recent clamor over the Princeton Review ranking. "We want to bring in speakers who add libertarian ideas and support freedom, but are interesting to students," Schwartz said.Schwartz says the importance of Schaler's talk is to educate students on an alternative perspective concerning drugs and alcohol."A lot of students are opposed to drug prohibition, which is a Libertarian stance," said Schwartz, "yet a lot of them may believe addiction is a disease."However, Bob Maust, director of CU's alcohol education program "A Matter of Degree," believes the issue is more complicated."The concept that it (drug abuse) is strictly each individual's choice doesn't seem to me to square with some of the other elements at play in our society," Maust said. "We know that people sometimes know the information (effects of drugs and alcohol), but they are not acting on the information because there are other things at play." Schaler says society uses the disease model as a scapegoat for people who choose to make bad decisions that hurt themselves or others."I don't mean to assert in my positions that people are weak in their character because they take a certain drug," says Schaler. "I don't think any drugs are safe or dangerous - drugs are inert - it all depends on how you use a substance."Schaler says people use illegal drugs for reasons similar to those for which they use prescription drugs, such as anti-depressants or mood stabilizers."People aren't liking their life, so they change the lens of perception," says Schaler. "Changing the lens doesn't mean there is necessarily something wrong (medically)."However, Maust adds that advertising and messages sent to consumers by alcohol and tobacco companies play a huge role in influencing a person's decisions."When you make your own choices, where is the information you are getting?" says Maust, pointing to commercial campaigns of companies like Anheuser-Busch. "It is a one way conversation to the consumer."Both Schaler and Schwarz say people are fed lies that they are enslaved to drugs like alcohol."Our nervous systems are genetically built so that we are predisposed to certain things," says Schaler. "That's not the same thing as saying, 'My genes made me go to this party or my genes made me take this drug.'"While there is no medical "test," such as a blood test, to determine whether a person is considered an alcoholic, Maust says such findings are still a possibility."I think we are still in the discovery stages on that," says Maust of genetic links to drug and alcohol addiction. "We have some major international research being done at CU as to what are the genetic links..."Maust adds that when a person starts manifesting certain destructive behaviors in relation to alcohol or drugs, labels become irrelevant anyway."When we talk about the question of will, at some point (illegal) drugs can interfere with a person's ability to think clearly," says Maust. "It often happens so quickly and so powerfully that it takes them away from a rational discourse with themselves."While Schaler and Schwartz agree that any kind of drug affects a person if not used responsibly, they point to a larger issue of social norms."The bigger picture is that they (society) want to demonize an inanimate object because it is hard to accept that individual people make poor decisions," says Schwartz. "It is politically easier to say 'Let's ban this drug.' What they are really doing is persecuting a minority of people that use these things."Schwartz said Schaler's presentation will have a wide appeal because it relates not only to science but history, sociology and economic policy."The really interesting thing about the talk is that it spans a lot of disciplines," said Schwartz. "People can see how these ideas propagate through to policy."Schaler, a professor at American University in Washington, D.C., says the college environment is the perfect place for a discussion of ideas such as alcohol and drug use."A lot of time the college environment is dictated by political correctness," says Schaler. "College is a place where you should challenge your professor and look at things from all different angles ... not be told what to believe."Source: Colorado Daily (CO)Author: Meagan Balink, Colorado Daily Campus EditorPublished: September 24, 2003Copyright: 2003 Colorado DailyContact: editor coloradodaily.comWebsite: Article:Decision To Smoke Pot Shouldn't Involve Doctor

Home    Comment    Email    Register    Recent Comments    Help

Comment #12 posted by FoM on September 25, 2003 at 08:46:42 PT
CNN Talking About New $7 a Pill Drug
[ Post Comment ]

Comment #11 posted by kaptinemo on September 25, 2003 at 07:49:57 PT:
You know why, BGeen
I don't know how much those potent lollipops cost, but compared to legal cannabis, which would be worth PENNIES to the dollar, they wouldn't stack up economically.For people who make such noise about 'free markets', hate prices supports and bray how wonderful laissez faire capitalism is, the people in power certainly don't seem to understand economics. But they aren't THAT stupid. They know what they are doing:Why Does George W. Bush Fly in Drug Smuggler Barry Seal's Airplane?
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #10 posted by FoM on September 25, 2003 at 07:43:40 PT

About Addiction
BGreen posted about the Fentanyl Lollipops. It made me think about how people can get strung out on a drug and not even realize it until they quit. I stopped taking any drugs in 1980. I mean nothing at all. Over the next few years I suffered with migraine headaches that kept me in bed and sick to my stomach. I called my headaches sick heachaches because that's how they made me feel. In 87 I went to the doctor because the headaches had gotten unbearable. I told the doctor I didn't want any drugs prescribed that could cause me to become dependent and he gave me Fioricet. were a god send. I also told him that I couldn't take any drug with a barbituate in it. I get really angry when I have taken barbituates. Only years later did I find out Fioricet had a barbituate in it. I said that to say this. We can become dependent on drugs even if we aren't taking them to get high or just for fun. Pain medicine is the same way. The end for me was withdrawal like Imprint said for the woman coming off of Heroin. We can't trust that drugs aren't addictive just because they are legal or even if a doctor says they are ok in my opinion. Cannabis isn't addictive. That is one of the reasons Cannabis being illegal really bothers me because it can take the place of some drugs and help a person without getting strung out. I think they want people strung out so they can be sure they will buy more drugs and keep the profits rolling in. I know I'm cynical but only when it comes to trusting prescription drugs. 
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #9 posted by BGreen on September 25, 2003 at 06:27:54 PT

Fentanyl Lollipops For Pediatric Patients!
PAIN MANAGEMENT IN CHILDREN WITH CANCER a drug used for procedural pain, is now commercially available in a transmucosal lozenge (lollipop)
preparation and has proved to be an effective way to administer medication to children.From the DEAth website:First synthesized in Belgium in the late 1950s, fentanyl, with an analgesic potency of about 80 times that of morphine, was introduced into medical practice in the 1960s as an intravenous anesthetic under the trade name of Sublimaze®.CDER Review Finds No Misuse of Fentanyl Barbara Palmisano, M.D.Post-marketing review by FDA has found no evidence of adverse events as a result of misuse of Fentanyl Orale (oral transmucosal fentanyl). The review stemmed from the 1993 controversial approval of the preoperative sedation for painful procedures that is delivered to pediatric patients in lozenge form resembling a lollipop. The review was completed recently and presented to the Anesthesia and Life Support Advisory Committee in December 1995.There were no spontaneously reported adverse events during the initial year of marketing, which underscores the belief that the drug is being administered properly. The data from Phase IV studies, mostly in operating room environments, showed that there was a small incidence of respiratory depression which is not unexpected for a drug of this class. However, all cases were appropriately managed without harm to the patients.Fentanyl is a potent opioid well known in anesthesia and intensive care for intravenous use. Several features of this formulation and its approval are unique.First, it was developed specifically for pediatric patients although adults were also included in the study. Seventy percent of patients in the NDA studies were pediatric. Second, it is a means to deliver a potent sedative narcotic in a palatable dosage form. The drug is delivered in a raspberry flavored lozenge on a stick. It is intended as an alternative to 'shots' for pediatric patients before surgery and before certain emergency room procedures such as, suturing lacerations and reducing orthopedic fractures and dislocations. It can also be used for children with chronic diseases before painful procedures such as bone marrow aspiration.How come kids sucking fentanyl lollipops aren't "confused" and "getting the wrong message," but if an adult uses medical cannabis the poor kids will be "confused" and "get the wrong message?"The Reverend Bud Green

[ Post Comment ]


Comment #8 posted by kaptinemo on September 25, 2003 at 05:39:40 PT:

Choices versus genetics
The only drug that I can say for sure that I was addicted to was caffeine, and thankfully, no more. But I wasn't blindly swallowing that stuff out of programmed habit. It was a choice.After the Feds ruined my career, I had to find work fast in an economically depressed area. The only jobs available were low paying factory jobs. Dangerous ones, as you were around electical kilns, pouring out all manner of powdered chemcals, many of which were carcinogenics, there was water everywhere on the floor, used to hose off said chemicals, heavy objects on barely upright racks could fall on was not a nice place. Physically, it was rough on the younger guys; for older workers, it was a matter of sheer endurance to get through the day. Add to that, I was going to computer school at night to get certified. It was absolutely exhausting.For 7 dollars an hour. It was a nightmare. One where you had to be ALERT. Hence the daily, KNOWING imbibing of drinks that had high amounts of caffeine in them. I drank the stuff because if I didn't, I could find that the exhaustion I was feeling daily could cause me to make a serious and dangerous mistake.Needless to say, caffeine is addictive, but mildly so. But it's no good for your ticker; causes arrhythmia. After I got a much better job, I cut out nearly all caffeine, and now only VERY rarely indulge in it. I *knew* what caffeine does to the body, but circumstances predicated its' use. So I used. Knowingly.We've had (albeit, flawed) drug education in this country for 30+ years. Prior to the mindless just-say-no crowd taking power, we used to have some reasonably good programs. How many people who became addicted to the rough stuff during that time had the same education? And how many still *chose* to use? No one held a pistol to their heads and informed them that they hade to stick that syringe into their arms or stuff powder up their nose or their brains would decorate the wall. They made a conscious choice to risk their health. The same with anyone who starts smoking tobacco or drinking (yuck!) alcohol.I didn't start toking until I was in my early 30's. I read as much as I could, and made a knowledgeable decision. I own up to my choice of intoxicant. But I chose it *sensibly*.Yes, you are 'hard-wired' to seek tickling your pleasure centers; some scientists have noticed endorphin production rises very slightly every time you learn a new skill. From a survival point of view, it certainly makes sense. But people who play with the addiction fire nowadays can't say with all honesty that they don't believe some of what they are told about addictive drugs. They *know* they are addictive, but choose to play Russian roullette with their lives. Choose. The operative word.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #7 posted by Imprint on September 25, 2003 at 02:35:32 PT

On the addiction is a choice thing. I can offer this. Recently I quit smoking cigarettes for the second time. I smoked from the ages of 12 to 24 and 36 to 45. From my perspective I chose to start each time and I chose to quit each time. When I quit there was a biological side to this but any kind of withdrawal symptoms weren’t too severer. I just smoked a little more pot when I felt a strong urge to have a cigarette. It’s been about 2 months now and I find that I make a mental choice to not smoke each day. Seems like choices to me. But, on the other hand, a couple of years ago when I was forced to go to the MA meetings to fulfil part of my probation, I meet a young woman that was two days into stopping heroin. What a mess, I felt so bad for her. So, was addiction a choice for her? Looked like a choice going in but no choice going out. 

[ Post Comment ]


Comment #6 posted by E_Johnson on September 24, 2003 at 23:29:45 PT

Star Jones as an example
Star Jones on The View is a former criminal prosecutor who has bragged about putting drug users behind bars and brags about never having tried marijuana.She recently had gastric bypass surgery to lose weight, because she has become morbidly obese and was unable to limit her food intake any other way.I wonder how Schaler and Maust would apply their models to her problems.Even with heroin people do not need major abdominal surgery to quit.Yet we consider food to be non-addictive.

[ Post Comment ]


Comment #5 posted by E_Johnson on September 24, 2003 at 23:06:35 PT

Now watch this
"While there is no medical "test," such as a blood test, to determine whether a person is considered an alcoholic, Maust says such findings are still a possibility.
"One could be judged a drug addict even if they've never taken anything, according to his medical model of addiction.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #4 posted by FoM on September 24, 2003 at 22:12:44 PT

EJ This Is Hard For Me
I am a very basic thinking type of person and the article might not make much sense to me. This is how I feel about drug use. I believe that a person should be able to use a drug like prescription pain medicine as long as it helps them. The problem is building a tolerance to some of those drugs and are they toxic in higher doses to a person's body. I quit on my own because the whole situation was out of control and didn't have any coping skills. It boiled down to I needed to get a grip on life to help my son in his last few years. I was told that quiting for someone else won't work and it must be for yourself and I said it wasn't. They were wrong. You can quit for someone elses well being. I did. 
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #3 posted by E_Johnson on September 24, 2003 at 21:56:45 PT

Physical dependence is something else
Many drugs have withdrawal symptoms but I think he is talking about something else.People have a hard time quitting prednisone but nobody would accuse them of being an addict because of that. The physical effects of reducing the dosage of prednisone are not pleasant, because the drug suppresses the adrenal glands and they don't just bounce back after the drug is withdrawn.There's a difference between having a difficult withdrawal period, which is true for a great many pharmaceutical drugs even non-psychoactive ones, and having a difficult time making the decision to withdraw. I think they're arguing about the decision process to quit and what extent free will plays in that decision to quit or the decision not to quit.Maust is arguing that the decision to not quit is not a decision, it's a sickness where decision making cannot happen.Schaler is arguing that it's all about making decisions, that addicts make a decision to quit when it suits them.
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #2 posted by FoM on September 24, 2003 at 21:19:20 PT

I Don't Understand
I really don't know what point he is trying to make. I believe trying a drug like Meth or Coke or some other powerful white powder that a person won't necessarily become addicted but some people will. I can't take any narcotic pain medicine anymore. I had a terrible time quiting and had a lot of pain. I would only take a prescription pain killer now if I was in serious pain like breaking an arm or something equally severe. What is he saying? I don't understand. 
[ Post Comment ]


Comment #1 posted by E_Johnson on September 24, 2003 at 21:05:23 PT

Maust is making a dangerous argument
""When we talk about the question of will, at some point (illegal) drugs can interfere with a person's ability to think clearly," says Maust. "It often happens so quickly and so powerfully that it takes them away from a rational discourse with themselves."
"This is a dangerous road to go down, because at the end of the road, people identified by Maust as having an addiction gene could lose their civil rights.Also, if addicts have no free will, then how do they ever make the decision to quit?
[ Post Comment ]

  Post Comment