Much of what has been accepted as conventional wisdom when it comes to the effects illegal drugs have on humans may be wrong and the federal government’s drug policy needs an overhaul, according to a provocative new book by Dr. Carl Hart, a New York-based scholar and researcher.
In “High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society,” Hart draws on his more than 22 years of professional experience and personal observations of people addicted to drugs while growing up in a tough neighborhood.
For years, the study of drugs has relied on animal testing, but Hart contended the best way to determine the effect of drugs on human is to study the people who use them.
Hart’s book is part memoir and part research, including his findings that reveal a new perspective on commonly held ideas about drugs, poverty, race and why America’s War on Drugs is failing.
“Much of what we are doing in terms of drug education, treatment, and public policy is inconsistent with scientific data,” Hart wrote in his book. “In order to come to terms with what I have seen in the lab and read in the scientific literature, there is nothing else to do but speak out.”
He said that research has shown that only about 10 to 15 percent of those who use illicit drugs are actually addicted and that drugs have been blamed for a myriad of social problems, including crime and domestic violence, which have their roots in areas beyond drug abuse.
“Drugs are not as dangerous as we have made them out to be,” Hart said in an interview with WNYC in New York. “I’m trying to get people to use the data, the empirical evidence, and when you do that, you realize that we have been lied to, the public has been lied to.”
Hart is an associate professor of psychology in both the departments of psychiatry and psychology at Columbia University, and director of the Residential Studies and Methamphetamine Research Laboratories at the New York State Psychiatric Institute.
One of his major areas of research is a focus on the interactions between commonly abused drugs and the biological and environmental factors that impact human behavior and physiology.
For many people, Hart argued, it is the social and legal consequences of drug use that plague many, moreso than addiction, especially in the black community.
“More than 50 percent of the guys who I grew up with spent time in jail on some drug-related charge,” said Hart, who supports decriminalization of most drug use. “It’s always some minor trafficking or possession charge. It’s so normalized.”
Hart has even taken the stand and submitted written testimony in family court cases around New York City, advocating for children not to be taken from their parents, even if the adults tested positive for marijuana.
Not everyone agrees with Hart’s argument, including Dr. Herb Kleber, deputy drug czar under President George H.W. Bush and the man who hired Hart.
“I don’t think legalization is the answer,” he told WNYC. “We don’t want to lose a generation by making these drugs more readily available.”
Hart said he doesn’t support legalization and he has warned that many street drugs are cut with substances that are more dangerous than the drugs themselves.
He said he would rather see a drug policy that is steeped in solid scientific data than tactics that he said are designed primarily to scare people away from drug use.
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This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
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2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
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3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
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4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
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5. Jus haaaanngin out
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6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
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7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
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8. new new
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9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
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10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
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11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
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13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
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14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
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15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
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16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
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17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
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18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
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19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
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20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
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22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
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23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
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24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
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25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
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26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
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27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
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28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
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29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
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30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
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