Open Thread

A busy week at work for me, and some distractions in the news.

bullet image Are My Methods Unsound? Why ‘Sicario’ Is the ‘Apocalypse Now’ of the Drug War

There’s been quite a bit of talk about the movie Sicario. I’m curious. Have you seen it? And how does it, as fiction, stack up to the realities of our drug war?

I must admit, I’m not rushing out to catch it. In part, because when I go to the movies I usually want to escape. And a movie about the drug war just doesn’t feel like entertainment to me.

bullet image Legal marijuana sales began yesterday in Oregon. Sky fallen yet?

bullet image Can Addicts Finally Force the War on Drugs to End? by Maia Szalavitz

People who use or have used drugs rarely have a seat at the table when policy is set—and are heard from mainly in the form of stories of sin and repentance.

But now a group called Unite to Face Addiction is planning a massive rally in Washington, DC, to attack stigma and call for change. On Sunday, October 4, big names like Steven Tyler, Joe Walsh, Jason Isbell of the Drive-By Truckers, and Sheryl Crow will perform. Speakers will include former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, former baseball player Darryl Strawberry, author William Cope Moyers and current “drug czar” Michael Botticelli, who is in recovery himself. […]

The biggest challenge—other than fundraising—was trying to build a coalition, according to Williams. “How do we get prevention and harm reduction and recovery and treatment people who all disagree, how do we get them under a broad umbrella?” he asks rhetorically.

I’m happy to see this, while also recognizing the challenge. There are huge sections of the treatment industry that are little more than opportunistic mercenaries (like the vultures who send me letters all the time offering to write “free” guest posts about treatment and recovery in exchange for a text link to get better Google rankings for treatment businesses) who publicly push for continued prohibition so they can skim the criminal justice referral cream off the top, and, when they encounter people who really need help, conduct unsound treatment practices that can leave patients more vulnerable to overdose deaths.

Not that addicts themselves always have the right answers. Sometimes those in recovery can be rather religious in their proselytizing about their particular recovery method or about the dangers of “their” drug, not accepting that their story isn’t everyone’s story.

But on the other hand, too often there has been a paternal approach to addicts that says they are unable to speak about their own experience and they must be cared for against their own will.

It’ll be interesting to see what comes of this event.

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