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Junk Medicine: Doctors, Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  156 Ratings  ·  22 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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Dfordoom
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
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
Ari
Feb 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jen
Nov 08, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Douglas Wilson
Jan 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: culture-studies
eye-opening
Charity
Jul 15, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Wow, so I now I know what it would be like to read a book by the curmudgeonly old man who sits on his front porch and yells at kids to stay off his lawn. You can deduce, said neighbor, has no friends and/or meaningful relationships because his life is completely devoid of any and all joy. THE AUTHOR IS THAT GUY! I picked up this book without knowing much about this author which was my first mistake; a short web search would've let me know that he's the British equivalent of an amalgamation of an ...more
Sunbonnetsioux
Apr 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2015
I like Dalrymple and have read one other of his books. I wondered if this one might be somewhat dated since it does not address narcan at all, nor suboxone. However, I think his underlying premise, that heroin addiction has been gradually transformed into a "medical problem" is plenty relevant.

Notable passages:

p 99: "The distorting hall of mirrors in which everyone deceived and half-deceives everyone, including himself, everyone lies and half-lies, raises expectations and then dashes them, pret
...more
Bob
Jun 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In ROMANCING OPIATES, Dalrymple explodes the entire mythology of opiate (heroin) use. It is a penetrating, very skeptical look at the addiction treatment world, exposing it as a conspiracy of vested interests all around, from doctors to addicts, who all want to perpetuate the myth that opiate addiction is a "disease".

Far from being near-instantly addictive, it takes not only time but conscious effort & even intent to become hooked on the stuff. As Dalrymple points out, narcotics are regularl
...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
Dec 21, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Amy Curtiss
Jun 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book opened my eyes to the power of fiction to shape reality. How many times have I seen people in movies or on TV SUFFERING HORRIBLY for weeks on end trying to "kick" heroin? And here's this awesome doctor saying, hey, it's not that bad, really. And I totally believe him. We make jokes about the real killer, alcoholic's delirium tremens, and assume, because we saw it on tv, that it's MUCH worse to be sweaty and vomit for a few days while you stop shooting up. I agree with the author that i ...more
Davy
Dec 19, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The first time I read a book from Dalrymple (about the underclass) it enerved me a lot, because of the lack of scientifical and historical correctness, but this time I couldn't stop laughing. Such rubbish. Yes, you can probably loose your fysical heroïn-addiction in a few days, but should a psychiatrist not know the psychological addiction to drugs is much, much more harder ? Take tobacco - probably one of the most addictive drugs - for example, it's probably very 'easy' to quit smoking, you won ...more
Sarah
Aug 14, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: medical-topics
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
JPP Smorenburg
Jun 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle-shelf
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.
Megan
Mar 22, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Bianca
An interesting perspective on pharmaceuticals and addiction. Not sure I agree with everything that was written but it is good to know what the range of views on this topic are.
Gineke
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good book, based on personal experiences of the author and literary examples. Though this book provides a new perspective for the debate, it tends to be rather onesided.
Christian Lindke
Political,Drug Use
Gator
Nov 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing book and mega eye opener on the BS behind heroin addiction
Ellie
Sep 21, 2009 rated it really liked 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.
Joanne
Jul 28, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thought-provoking look at addiction, debunking opiate addiction as an illness, framing it as a moral/character weakness instead.
Paul Casamento
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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...

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