Johann Hari is the author of ‘Chasing the Scream‘, which deconstructs the War on Drugs and the myth that decriminalising drugs will worsen already abhorrent circumstances.

In this episode of  Meet the Renegades, Johann explains how our perception of drug addiction is completely wrong, why the War on Drugs hasn’t worked and offers alternative solutions. He shares insights on programmes which are thinking differently about drugs for example in Switzerland and Portugal, both of which have had dramatic results.

This war continues because we dehumanise everyone involved.

If we can’t or won’t attempt to understand the catalyst for most drug use, drug addiction will continue to be an impossible problem to solve. Could it be that the weight of social and emotional forces weigh so heavily on drug addicts that the are the only offer of escapism?

The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, the opposite of addiction is connection, the core of addiction is about not wanting to be present in your life because your life is too painful a place to be.

The foundation of unhappiness, which often fuels drug abuse are cultural standards that are not constructive for humanity.

We ask Johann how then do we start changing those standards to ultimately improve the lives of those suffering from drug addiction?


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Renegade Inc. is a new mainstream media platform which creates and broadcasts content aimed at those who think differently.Its mission is to inform, illuminate and inspire, focusing initially on three sectors: entrepreneurship, self-learning and the arts.
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4 thoughts on “Meet the Renegades: Johann Hari

  1. Yes, finally, a thoughtful discussion of addiction! Empathy, compassion, science are certainly positive alternatives to condemnation, punishment, and mistaken morality. Recognizing the humanity of people, who get caught up in this tragedy, is truly the answer. Johann Hari is a visionary leader. He grasp of this difficult topic is illuminating and inspirational.

  2. I have been handing out methadone for years in various pharmacies.I also see widespread abuse in the general population, buying codeine in pharmacies, these people have a problem which they will not admit to.
    Most of the addicts I see have had some difficulty in their early lives but many have just fallen into it by being in the forces or introduced by friends.Of course people try to run away from problems ,usually by watching TV ,smoking , going out for entertainment.These are distractions.Its a normal response to stressful lives.
    Giving methadone usually does not help, I see addicts wandering about with bottles of booze to try and quell the pain and craving in thier lives.I also see them with injuries from burgleries e.g tree climbing to break into homes or premises.The methadone does not stop cravings so they go off and buy alchol or other substances.If there were easy answers then it would have been solved.Various projects/studies over the years have shown results so you can equally point to Japan where drug use is very criminalised and prisoners are jailed but also given extensive rehab.It works because there is very little drug abuse there. Humans crave distraction from problems, this human condition is what needs working on and this is the challenge not the problem.

  3. “It’s not you, it’s your cage!” I don’t usually like soundbites, but that’s a good ‘un… Spot on!

    Johann has clearly got the right idea about drugs and addiction, though I will remain a little skeptical of his ability to understand what it’s like to be an addict unless he admits to an addiction of his own. It’s usually hard to trust someone who doesn’t have their own experience of being an addict, but Johann certainly sounds the most trustworthy I’ve ever heard speak on the subject.

    However, unless one has been physically addicted to any substance, they can’t possibly know the appalling effect of withdrawal. I’ve been addicted to several drugs in my time, and all were relatively easy to get off once I was out of the cage I was in which meant I had to start taking them. Only one is left, and that’s a prescribed medicine for the pain I suffered when I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow, and I had several broken ribs, a fractured sternum and a collapsed vertebra! The pain is long gone, the the synthetic opiate I was prescribed has proved impossible to stop so far, and one GP said I was have to go on a methadone programme to ween myself off it. Methadone? Me? That’s outrageous. Especially when a dose of Ibogaine HCL would work in one session. That’s another side to the opiate problem that never gets addressed. I hope Johann has found it in his research, or will include it at some point.

    I’m glad he’s there to talk sense about addiction and about the ‘War on Drugs’ to people who believe lies and myths. Unfortunately, that includes doctors. A local pharmacist I know was telling me only a few days ago how little GP’s know about pharmacology. That’s worrying…

    Having said all that, I wouldn’t swap out of any of my previous drug experiences, or my addictions. They’ve taught me so much about psychopharmacology, empathy for addicts of all kinds, and given me strength in areas of my life I would never have found otherwise!

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