Simplifying Heroin

Writing on opium addiction at his blog for Psychology Today, Dalrymple quotes from a book called “The Life of the Heroin User: Typical Beginnings, Trajectories and Outcomes” by Shane Darke of the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre at the University of New South Wales. Mr. Darke’s findings confirm many of the arguments Dalrymple has long made about addiction, for example, that users are not as easily and helplessly addicted as conventional wisdom and popular culture suggest:

“Whilst opioids are associated with considerable pleasure in their
subjective effects, they have a number of serious negative sequelae.
Use of the drugs, at least prior to the development of tolerance,
produces nausea and vomiting. The novice user has to work through
these effects to become the long-term user we discuss in this book.”

Now in my experience, at least, nausea and vomiting are highly aversive experiences. If I ate some berries from a tree that caused me to vomit I should certainly think twice about returning to them. In other words, to work through nausea and vomiting indicates considerable determination: indeed, of a degree that would be admirable if it were in pursuit of a worthier end.

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