Summary of Everything You Think You Know About Addiction Is Wrong

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Users of illegal narcotics are criminals, and society punishes and ostracizes addicts. But drug use and addiction rates continue to escalate. Yet when Portugal decriminalized all drugs and, instead, invested in job creation for addicts, addiction rates fell by 50%. getAbstract believes journalist Johann Hari will make you reconsider everything think you know about addiction. Hari suggests a more humane approach to ending the War on Drugs.

About the Speaker

Johann Hari is an award-winning journalist and the author of Chasing the Scream, a book about the War on Drugs.



To deter illegal drug use, society jails and ostracizes drug addicts. Yet new evidence about addiction dispels this approach. Many believe that a person who uses heroin will become quickly hooked to the drug. But patients prescribed diamorphine, a pure form of heroin, for long periods don’t become junkies. An early 20th-century experiment shaped society’s perceptions of addiction. With each iteration, researchers put a rat alone in a cage with a bottle of pure water and a bottle of water laced with either heroin or cocaine. In almost every test, the rat chose the spiked water, overdosed and died. In the 1970s, Bruce Alexander, a professor of psychology, theorized...

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