Stuff it, Brand

by Irina Slav

Note: May contain strong language

I can’t abide arrogance in any form, which is why as soon as I read this I felt compelled to say a couple of things on the subject, or rather subjects.

The first subject is The Government (TG, for short) and how it is to blame for everything, including the untimely death of a famous, talented person. I live in a post-totalitarian country and, oh man, seven out of ten people (my stats) blame TG for everything, including their erectile dysfunction, thrush or whatever else makes their life miserable. That’s a consequence of living in a situation where everything is in the hands of TG and people are forcefully relieved of the responsibility for their actions to an unhealthy extent, experts say, and I humbly agree, since it’s only logical and I don’t argue with multiple experts, especially when their expert opinion coincides with my inexpert one. So, you understand that to have a bloody Western World Celebrity whining about TG being guilty of a death from drug overdose (which even happened in another country but I’m assuming initially he meant TG as a generic concept) was a bit too much. Maybe I read Sartre too young and the idea that everyone is responsible for the choices they make stuck with me big time. In fact, forget maybe. I firmly believe that we are responsible for all the choices we make for a simple reason: there is always a choice, but more on this later. The hard fact is that no law can save a person bent on self-destruction; believing that the opposite is true is, well, naive.

Which brings me to the second subject, namely, drugs and addiction. Let’s see, now. I’ve had first-hand experience with one class A drug, cocaine, and a class B drug, cannabis. Neither did anything much for me, the first because it wore off too quickly and I didn’t like the loss of control, and the second because, save one intimate conversation with a poster of Robert Smith when I was 15, did nothing but make me hungry whenever I gave it a try after that. Plus it stinks unbearably. That said, I smoke a pack of ordinary cigarettes a day and I had a flirt with vodka about 15 years ago, following emotional trauma. Am I addictive? By all means. Do I think addiction is a disease? Nope. It’s not a disease, it’s an aspect of someone’s personality and I really don’t care what Brand-like people are saying to make themselves feel better. Schizophrenia is a disease; addiction is a form of self-destructive behaviour whose seeds, if we are to believe experts like Jesper Juul, and I have good reason to do so, are sown in early childhood by loving but apparently unwitting parents.  There you have it, although you never know, they may find a genetic cause of addiction, if they already haven’t, that is. They, the scientists, I mean, not they, the addicts. I’m sure some addicts would feel much better to think that they are ill, rather than that they have a defect; a defect is a taboo word in today’s politically correct brave new world, and being ill means, once again, that responsibility is out of your control. I personally don’t mind either the word or the concept of a defect itself; nobody’s perfect and that’s fine. Having said all that I’m fully aware of the implications of addiction and its scary potential to fuck up lives like nothing else, so don’t be misled to believe that I take it lightly; I don’t, but I do have a problem with people refusing to take responsibility for their own actions. I’m not saying it’s easy, either, because I know it’s not. Yet, since there are people doing it and getting unhooked from whatever they had been hooked up on before, I boldly assume that taking responsibility is not impossible.

Calling for the legalisation of hard drugs and administration under medical supervision in order to avoid deaths from overdose is not the best argument in the pro camp. When there is a will, there is a way, no? Calling Hoffman a victim of drug legislation could be construed as downright offensive: victims are rarely responsible for the occurrence that makes them victims, if you catch my drift and no, I’m not assigning blame to Hoffman or anyone else who left the building before their time (although the issue of “it wasn’t his time” deserves a separate write-up), see above. Perhaps the strongest argument of the pro-legalise camp is that legalisation will drag the industry into the light, tax it, force it to have quality control and so on. That’s a good argument, but then let’s think about those that become direct or indirect victims of the perfectly legal booze that’s accessible to anyone over 18 (or 21 for those unlucky ones in some states). Alcohol is legal and it still claims lives, so how exactly can anyone be convinced that if heroine and cocaine were made legal and administered under medical supervision, there would be no more premature deaths from overdosing? I know I can’t.

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