Based on 14 years of experience as a prison doctor and as a psychiatrist in a large general hospital in a British slum, Dietrich Weismann Fellow Theodore Dalrymple argues that addiction to opiates is not an illness but a moral and spiritual problem. And he provides concrete evidence showing that doctors, social workers, and psychologists have created a self-serving, self-perpetuating, and ineffective medical bureaucracy to treat it.
Dalrymple also explores the literary treatment of opiates. Countless writers, from Coleridge and De Quincey to William Burroughs and Irving Walsh, he notes, have attributed deep philosophical significance to drug abuse. Addicts tend to be a mystery to those who have never been one, and they are often presumed to be in touch with profound truths of which non-addicts are ignorant. Dalrymple argues powerfully against such “romancing” of drugs.