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Posted: September 6th, 2023

Chasing the Scream discusses the work of John Marks

Chasing the Scream discusses the work of John Marks, a physician who prescribed heroin to those struggling with heroin addiction in England. He is quoted as saying that many “of the harms of drugs are to do with the laws around them, not the drugs themselves.” (Hari, 2015, p. 210)

Explain if you agree or disagree.


In the context of drug addiction, some argue that the criminalization and stigmatization of drug use may exacerbate the harms associated with drug addiction. For instance, drug users may face social isolation, unemployment, poverty, and legal consequences, which can hinder their ability to access healthcare, education, and social support. Additionally, drug policies that prioritize punishment over treatment may fail to address the root causes of addiction and may even exacerbate drug-related violence and crime.

On the other hand, drug use and addiction can cause significant harm to individuals and society, including physical and mental health problems, social dysfunction, and economic costs. The harms associated with drugs may depend on various factors, such as the type of drug, the dose, the route of administration, the frequency of use, the individual’s age, gender, and health status, and the social and cultural context of drug use.

Therefore, the statement that “many of the harms of drugs are to do with the laws around them, not the drugs themselves” may reflect a perspective that challenges the current drug policy paradigm and calls for a more humane and evidence-based approach to drug use and addiction. However, this statement may not be true in all cases, as drugs themselves can cause significant harm to individuals and society, regardless of their legal status.

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