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Romancing Opiates Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy

By Theodore Dalrymple
Encounter Books 2006 ISBN: 9781594030871

About the Book

Theodore Dalrymple believes that almost everything people know about opiate addiction is wrong. Most flawed of all is the notion that addicts are in touch with profound mysteries of which non-addicts are ignorant. Dalrymple shows that doctors, psychologists and social workers, all of them uncritically accepting addicts' descriptions of addiction, have employed literary myths (drugs are creative and intense) in constructing an equal and opposite myth of quasi-treatment. Using evidence from literature and pharmacology and drawing on examples from his own clinical experience, Dalrymple shows that addiction is not a disease, but a response to personal and existential problems. He argues that withdrawal from opiates is not a serious medical condition but a relatively trivial experience, and says that criminality causes addiction far more often than addiction causes criminality.

About the Author

Theodore Dalrymple is a British doctor and writer who has worked on four continents and has most recently practiced in a British inner-city hospital and prison. He has written a column for the London Spectator for thirteen years, is a contributing editor for City Journal in the United States, and is the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research. His earlier collections of essays, Life at the Bottom and Our Culture, What's Left of It, were widely praised.



"Theodore Dalrymple is a brilliant observer of both medicine and society, and Romancing Opiates wittily engages with two versions of the current nonsense: orthodox medicine on drug addiction, and romantic poets on the wisdom you supposedly enjoy from getting high."

— Kenneth Minogue, professor emeritus at the London School of Economics and author of The Liberal Mind