Dr. Junkie the book
Updated: Dec 28, 2021
"Imagine if the government chased sick people with diabetes, put a tax on insulin and drove it into the black market, told doctors they couldn’t treat them…then sent them to jail. Yet we do practically the same thing every day in the week to sick people hooked on drugs. The jails are full and the problem is getting worse every day.” —Billie Holiday
Sample of what's in the book...
Tolerance & Sensitization: Throughout our lives, we humans grow from floppy, confused idiots into ever-more-accurate prediction machines. Our consciousness is nothing but the accumulation of our experiences, and those past experiences allow us to make predictions about what will happen in the world around us.
If we turn that doorknob, that latch will open.
If we shoot that gun in public, the police will show up.
If we drive too fast, we might get pulled over.
If we eat foods that don't agree with us, we will likely experience indigestion.
These experiences come to inform our decisions. We are the culmination of our lives in motion, the sum of of our collection of memories at any given time.
We seldom think about this human drive to predict the state of our environment as tolerance and sensitization, but that is exactly what is gong on. And recognizing this simple connection can help us understand a lot about drugs and those who use them. There is much we have conveniently forgotten a hundred years into our never-ending war on drugs.
When we become tolerant of something, our bodies come to recognize the benefits offered by it, so we adjust our bio-chemistry to make way for more of that behavior, that person, or that drug. We want to be able to take more of what we see as a good thing without fearing overdose. Unfortunately that means we also have to take more of it to achieve the same positive feelings which once came with incredibly small doses.
When we become sensitized to something, our bodies recognize the danger or excitement offered by it, so we adjust our bio-chemistry to make sure we notice it a lot sooner than we otherwise might. The benefit is survival. Becoming sensitized means we recognize threats a bit faster than we otherwise would, and therefore we sometimes survive when we might otherwise have died. Anyone who has struggled with trauma knows sensitization can put us in a bad place, because that feeling of terror and anxiety does a lot more than protect us. It sometimes hinders our life progress.
Dr. Junkie is a short-and-sweet description of things we should all already know related to drugs and those who use them. It provides a summary of topics like sensitization, tolerance, incarceration, the disease model of addiction, the thrill of the hunt and the thrill of the feast, Rat Park, plus I explain why different drugs do different things to different people.