Junk Medicine: Doctors, Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy
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Junk Medicine: Doctors, Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  81 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Almost everything you know about heroin addiction is wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it is obviously wrong. Heroin is not highly addictive; withdrawal from it is not medically serious; addicts do not become criminals to feed their habit; addicts do not need any medical assistance to stop taking heroin; and contrary to received wisdom, heroin addiction most certainly IS a...more
Hardcover, 146 pages
Published August 28th 2007 by Harriman House (first published 2006)
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In Junk Medicine Theodore Dalrymple argues that everything we know about heroin addiction is wrong. Or at least, everything that is taken for granted about this subject is wrong.

Dalrymple spent many years as a doctor in both an inner-city hospital and a prison in a major British city so he’s had ample opportunity to see the problem at first hand.

The fact that addicts tell outrageous lies will come as no surprise to anyone who has ever actually met an addict, but far more shocking is the fact th...more
Mary Catelli
A rather grim book. Dalrymple worked for years as a prison doctor and at a hospital in some of the worst slums in England. So he knows whereof he speaks.

And there's no denying that the addicts he sees live grim lives. He observed to many of them that it was clear that freedom was to them a concentration camp: whenever they were sent to jail, they would be miserably malnourished, even starving, and in jail they would recover their health -- only to return months later in the same condition. None...more
Dalrymple is cranky to the point of being almost reactionary. However, he might not be wrong. The author's claim is "opiate addicts take drugs because the drugs are yummy and the rest of their lives are lousy. They wildly exaggerate how serious the withdrawal symptoms are, as a way to manipulate doctors into giving them drugs and to manipulate society into forgiving them for their addiction. Moreover, addicts have been talking in this dishonest way since the early 19th century, with Coleridge an...more
Rob Dewitte
Dalrymple thoroughly refutes the widespread myth that the vast majority of addiction to opiates--heroin, morphine, and opium--is any sort of medical danger or disease, and thereafter effectively criticizes the addiction bureaucracy as not only ineffective but ultimately an amplifier of the addict's problem. In TD's mind (he's an MD), the doctor-patient relationship with regard to opiate addiction is a complex kabuki dance of addicts pretending to be sick, and doctors pretending to help them. He...more
Eric Chevlen
Dalrymple's thesis is that drug addiction is a choice, a bad choice. He contends that it is not an illness, but a characterologic failing, an (apparently) easy out from ennui and lack of purpose. That raises the very thorny question of nosology itself, which he did not address in his book, and which I do not address here. He argues that the co-incidence of criminality and addiction is because people who are criminally inclined become drug addicts, not that drug addicts turn to crime. He notes th...more
JPP Smorenburg
Another good book by Theodore Dalrymple. It dismantles the heroic struggle myth of Heroin and Opium withdrawing, and discusses the origin and danger of the myth and reasons for its perpetuation.

Caveat: Too bad the not fully agreeable font is locked in and the text has regularly occuring typos and missing words in this Kindle edition. Considering the price of $12.09, this is hardly satisfactory. Purely for the Kindle edition lay-out considering price: two stars.
Only read the first third of this one, the part that actually dealt with the author's take on opiate 'addiction'. The other two parts held little interest to me (start breaking down opium literature from early 19th century authors, and you're gonna lose me ...), but I did enjoy the author's dry, witty humor that was laced throughout.

Overall, I loved the portion of the book that I focused on. I want to pass out copies to all the docs and PAs at my job, and lay some copies around the nursing stati...more
Dalrymple should be congratulated on his original thinking. He busts through myths surrounding opiates and the people addicted to them with vast amounts of research and anecdotes to back him up. i didn't quite make it through the whole book, but even if you read the first chapter it's worth it.
I found this book very interesting, it makes you look at drug addiction and the problems associated with it in a different light. Worth a read.
Eh. The first have was interesting. Sorta. The last half was drivel. Goes to show that you can be a total douche and still be right half of the time.
Thought-provoking look at addiction, debunking opiate addiction as an illness, framing it as a moral/character weakness instead.
Vince Fontaine
There will always be lousy people with bad character, doesn't matter what substances they take.
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Anthony Daniels is a British writer and retired physician (prison doctor and psychiatrist), who generally uses the pen name Theodore Dalrymple. He has also used the pen name Edward Theberton and two other pen names. Before his retirement in 2005 he worked as a doctor and psychiatrist in a hospital and nearby prison in a slum area in Birmingham.
More about Theodore Dalrymple...
Life at the Bottom: The Worldview That Makes the Underclass Our Culture, What's Left of It: The Mandarins and the Masses Spoilt Rotten: The Toxic Cult of Sentimentality In Praise of Prejudice: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists Are Murdering Our Past Not with a Bang But a Whimper: The Politics and Culture of Decline

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