‘Angels and demons’: the politics of psychoactive drugs

This is a very good article and history of (both illicit and legal) psychoactive drug use. They’re very much interconnected, as I’ve often mentioned here on Beyond Meds too. See: (Psychotropic) drugs are drugs are drugs. Legal, illicit not so significant

Joanna Moncrieff wisely concludes:
“We need to be more honest and open about the nature of prescription drugs, in order to develop more rational policies towards drug use in general. At present we are stoking the desire for mind-altering effects with medically authorised substances, some of which may be just as harmful or worse than their illicit counterparts. We may also be missing opportunities to explore the therapeutic effects of some illicit substances, like the potential of opiates to suppress psychosis as noted anecdotally by people in the field of addictions.

The regulation of psychoactive substance use is not necessarily wrong in itself, and every society will wish to preserve order and prevent the ravages that excessive drug or alcohol use can entail. We should remember that among those at the forefront of the campaign for Prohibition were women, sick and tired of the abuse they suffered at the hands of drunken husbands (4). The irrationality of current drug policy, however, acts as an impediment to the development of informed and responsible attitudes towards the benefits and dangers of psychoactive substances.”

Joanna Moncrieff

The FIAT (Financial Incentives for Adherence Trial) study, published last year, highlights the paradoxical nature of our current attitude to the use mind-altering drugs. In this randomised controlled trial people with ‘psychotic disorders’ were paid £15 a time to take an injection of an ‘antipsychotic’ drug (1). The payment increased rates of compliance only marginally, and had no effect on clinical outcomes, so the accompanying editorial suggested we need to pay people more (2).

We are now paying people to take drugs they don’t like and don’t want, while we continue to invest vast sums of public money in efforts to curb the use of drugs that people do like and do want. Prescription drugs like antidepressants, antipsychotics and so-called ‘mood stabilisers’ are widely promoted as good for your health. But the history of prescription and recreational drug use is more intimately intertwined than most people recognise. Attempts to disentangle…

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About Monica Cassani

Author/Editor Beyond Meds: Everything Matters