Many critics of the war on drugs advocate a “public health” approach to substance abuse that emphasizes “treatment” for the “disease” of addiction. In Blowing Smoke: Rethinking the War on Drugs without Prohibition and Rehab (Rowman & Littlefield), Michael Reznicek shows how such language reinforces the logic of drug prohibition by implying that people cannot help themselves.
Drawing on his experience as a psychiatrist, Reznicek dares to question the medical profession’s claim to special expertise in this area. He highlights the weak scientific basis for the government-endorsed understanding of drug addiction, cogently explaining how the disease model undermines freedom and responsibility. Instead he recommends viewing addiction as a bad habit that can be curbed with the right social and economic incentives, which for the most part means getting government out of the way so that it neither makes drug use more dangerous than it would otherwise be nor insulates addicts from the consequences of their choices. —Jacob Sullum
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