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Stanton Peele

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Addiction and Afghanistan, Obama and Volkow

Posted: 02/28/2012 1:06 pm

No, this isn't about the poppies they grow in Afghanistan that reach the streets of America as heroin.

Let's start with the current Afghanistan mess where, after 10 years in the country, fighting the Taliban and training Afghani soldiers and police, the accidental burning of Korans by American soldiers has led to massive bloodletting and assassinations, often by the very security forces we have trained, wrought on the Americans who have trained them:

Despite an American-led training effort that has spanned years and cost tens of billions of dollars, the Afghan security forces are still widely seen as riddled with dangerously unreliable soldiers and police officers. The distrust has only deepened as a pattern of attacks by Afghan security forces on American and NATO service members, beginning years ago, has drastically worsened over the past few days.

The typical American reaction is: "Those ingrate, crazy Afghans -- turning against us after all we've done for them."

No matter how much cultural sensitivity training American soldiers receive, they -- and we -- are incapable of penetrating the Afghan mind. This isn't unusual for our species. After all, the Afghans can't get into our heads. Cultural obtuseness is a universal trait.

It isn't even as though we are more insistent on the rightness of our worldview than others. It's just that we're so damn powerful. Therefore President Obama doubled down on our troops in Afghanistan, betting that we could transform the country into a democracy organized on principles similar to ours, rather than continuing as a society characterized by tribal feudalism and vengeance.

After all, God wants every country to be a democracy exactly like ours.

If such a thing is possible, it will occur naturally -- because you can't force-feed a worldview into other people's heads.

But you can try, and we have the results of that effort before us.

Now, let's turn to addiction. You know people in other countries, like Afghanistan, don't view opiates the way we do. That's why psychiatrist David Musto could write The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control. You see, other countries didn't have the same concern we did about the addictiveness of narcotics, and had to be forced by America to control drug traffic the way we knew it should be.

Sure enough, narcotic addiction grew in Asia and the Middle East -- just as cocaine addiction did in Latin America after we got through with them.

Just as obviously (to all but American-bred scientists), different societies view and treat alcohol in totally different ways, leading to completely different outcomes. Do you know that an international WHO commission comprising leading psychiatric and public health experts was stunned to discover that people in other countries (such as Greece) don't recognize the existence of alcohol withdrawal (DTs), and that the DSM criteria for dependence/addiction couldn't stand the journey across the Aegean Sea? (Do you think this may also be true for the new addiction of gambling that DSM-5 is prepared to recognize, claiming that gambling affects the same brain addiction mechanisms as drugs?)

Nora Volkow has shown -- hasn't she? (no, she hasn't) -- that narcotics make the brain addicted. Obviously, alcohol does the same. For Volkow and her acolytes, it's nothing about culture, and expectation, and the role of a narcotic and alcohol in an individual's and a society's life.

Volkow preaches that biology dictates that narcotics and alcohol cause addiction in our brains. She might as well say that God causes addiction in our souls.

Do you see the connection between Volkow and Obama yet, and how policies from both are doomed?

 
 
 

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