Romancing Opiates by Theodore Dalrymple

By reads
In addiction stories
Jan 8th, 2014

Many books on addiction delve into one specific drug. For an interesting look at opiates, check out

Romancing Opiates by Theodore Dalrymple

As books aren't newspapers, I rarely expect for them to be unbiased so it would be unfair to say that the book's author has his own opinion on the subject matter and then trash him for it.  Of course he does!  Dr. Dalrymple worked for years as a prison doctor in Great Britain, so saw opiates in action and, in particular, heroin addiction.  His assertion in the book is that many of our assumption about opiates, and about addiction itself, are wrong.  This is where I start to get turned off a bit, as I think that many of our assumptions about addiction are pretty right on the money.  However, I do see how working with addicts for many years in tough conditions could render one jaded and cranky beyond measure.  I just don't think that it called for writing a book that flies in the face of what we know to be true about how the brain works with regards to opiate addiction and withdrawal.

Dalrymple insists that opiate withdrawal is really no big deal and addicts treat it as such for several reasons.  We were taught to glamorize use and withdrawal through media and art.  There may be kernels of truth here.  Also, that we lie and manipulate to get free drugs from the government.  Once told that we can't have more drugs to ease withdrawal, our symptoms tend to disappear.  As someone who has been there, I can tell you that this is a full load.    Aside from his interesting commentary on the history of opiate use depicted in the arts, I found this book to be pretty much against everything I believe, and know, to be true about addiction.  Dalrymple contends that addicts are simply the victims of bad choices.  I know that this is not the case at all.

The author of this book seems very crass and continually sarcastic about a subject that is a very serious matter to many people.  Dalrymple appears to truly detest addicts and that makes this a tough read if you are either an addict yourself or looking to understand the behavior of a loved one.  I don't recommend this one unless you are looking to back up your pre-conceived notions that all addicts are bad.

For a more detailed and balanced look at Opiate Addiction, including detox, treatment and support considerations, we recommend this book.  However, if you'd like to give Romancing Opiates a read, you can find it here:

Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy Romancing Opiates: Pharmacological Lies and the Addiction Bureaucracy
Author: Theodore Dalrymple
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For hundreds of years, addiction to drugs has seemed dangerous but with a hint of glamour. Addicts are a mystery to those who have never been one. They are presumed to be in touch with profound enlightenments of which non-addicts are ignorant. Theodore Dalrymple shows that doctors, psychologists, and social workers have always known these drug addictions to be false! They have created these myths to build lucrative method of expensive quasi-treatment.



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Addiction Reads is a one-of-a-kind resource for reviews of books on alcoholism and addiction books. We bring you the latest in recovery books, books on opiate addiction, addiction memoirs and much more.

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