America’s Love Affair with Drugs

From Powell Books:Book

The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World’s Most Troubled Drug Culture by Richard J. Degrandpre: Anyone who has ever quit smoking soon discovers that gaining weight is often an unavoidable part of the deal. In 2001, the United States seemed to experience this realization on a collective level, as the Surgeon General, who many Americans had last encountered in a warning on their last pack of Marlboros, foretold a different sort of public health crisis: a national obesity epidemic.

It hardly seemed fair. Cigarettes, after all, had recently been exposed as delivery devices for a highly addictive and unnatural blackguard of a drug: nicotine. And while certain parties began to point fingers at trans fats or carbs, there was simply no nefarious substance to blame for obesity. It really was just too much of a good thing, food.

But perhaps we had set ourselves up for this frustration. Perhaps our obsessive pursuit of criminal chemicals — not just nicotine, but its nastier cousins meth and crack — had blinded us to more fundamental problems weighing down our society. This is the thesis advanced by Richard DeGrandpre in his book The Cult of Pharmacology: How America Became the World’s Most Troubled Drug Culture. In particular, DeGrandpre argues that Americans have an almost religious faith in the chemical essence of “demon drugs” (as well as “angels” like Ritalin and Prozac) while completely ignoring the social circumstances in which these avatars intersect with flesh.

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