I Am a Heroin User. I Do Not Have a Drug Problem

Carl Hart is a neuroscientist and Ziff Professor of Psychology at Columbia University—he was the first tenured African-American professor of sciences at Columbia. His research focuses on the “behavioral and neuropharmacological effects of psychoactive drugs in humans.” Hart’s new book, Drug Use For Grown-Ups, is a bold and engaging effort to counter what he sees as generations of misinformation and moral grandstanding about drug use. Today’s “sensationalistic media coverage of the opioid crisis continues a long, awful tradition of exploiting ignorance and fear to vilify certain members of our society,” Hart writes. The media is not the only problem. Scientists, he states, “have frequently overinterpreted and distorted” drugs’ effects on the brain.

Hart reports that more than 70 percent of drug users—whether they use alcohol, cocaine, prescription medications, or heroin—do not meet the health criteria for drug addiction. In Drug Use for Grown-Ups, Hart strives to “present a more realistic image of the typical drug user: a responsible professional who happens to use drugs in his pursuit of happiness.” With genial candor, Hart presents himself as a model drug user. “I am now entering my fifth year as a regular heroin user,” he writes. “I do not have a drug-use problem. Never have. Each day, I meet my parental, personal, and professional responsibilities. I pay my taxes, serve as a volunteer in my community on a regular basis, and contribute to the global community as an informed and engaged citizen. I am better for my drug use.”

caught up with Hart to discuss his drug use and his sharp points about science and.

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