This message has not yet reached the public and has therefore not prevented the emergence of a huge therapeutic bureaucracy. Theodore Dalrymple, who has worked as a prison psychiatrist, analyses this therapeutic community in his new book Junk Medicine: Doctors, Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy, which is dedicated to the war against withdrawal symptoms. He thoroughly debunks the disease model of addiction claiming that we should be really talking about a moral and spiritual problem requiring changes in behaviour.
In it he makes the following, extremely telling, points:
- Just as with smokers the vast majority of people who try heroin either never use it again, use it just a few times, or only use it intermittently.
- Even among heroin users, the heroin addict is the exception.
- Experiments have shown that withdrawal symptoms were eliminated with placebo injections of saline solution.
- Histrionic addicts…who complain of horrible discomfort in the presence of doctors…to obtain narcotics but act normally both before the visit and after.
- Patients who repeatedly receive large doses of narcotics for pain... rarely become addicted.