Review: Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear by Dr. Carl Hart
A captivating blend of memoir & science that sheds a damning light on the horrific, and too often racist, harms of punitive drug policy while exploring the scientific and personal benefits of responsible recreational drug use.
Most importantly, Hart presents one of the best arguments for drug use as a civil right but in a way not seen before — Hart is not your stereotypical right wing libertarian.
Instead he rejects political labels and presents the concept of drug liberty through a scientific, personal contentment and public benefit lens, crystallizing, perhaps for the first time, the idea that drug use is a human right in practical — not dogmatic — terms for the average and/or mainstream reader.
Interwoven throughout the book, Hart details the multitude of racist police brutality events that have long been justified by the perpetrators claiming drug use as an excuse for their violence. These stories are contrasted to the evidence provided by Dr. Hart’s 30 years of clinical research on drug effects and behavioral pharmacology, systematically exposing the racist pillars of the drug war and police brutality at a time which couldn’t be more apt.
My only critique is that the book isn’t longer so, one, I could enjoy more of the masterful writing but also, two, so that certain topics and arguments could be more extensively fleshed out.
For example, the chapter on psychedelics and certain arguments felt, at times, under explored. In the chapter “Addiction is not a Brain Disease”, Hart craft-fully debunks the notion of addiction as strictly a brain disorder but fails to offer up a comprehensive alternative disease model, only pointing to certain factors associated with addiction such as poor mental health, unemployment, lack of education etc.
However, upon reflection, I believe this was done with the intent to keep all content strictly relevant to the author’s lived experience and within the purvey of his clinical research expertise.
With his courage to openly write about his own personal drug use and unique perspective complemented by his research background this book is absolutely Carl’s Hart’s Magnum Opus, and is a must read for those interested in meaningful drug policy reform and drug education in general. I can only hope this book will help shift the public discourse on drug policy and liberty and help promote responsible and healthy drug use for individuals and society at large.
Dr. Carl Hart is a man on an island of principle, sounding the horn for liberty and science based drug reform while outing himself as a responsible “hard drug” user to help change public perception. Will you run and hide? Or will you stand for freedom and join him?