ON-Lion Letter
For 200 years, addiction to opiates has seemed both dangerous and glamorous, Theodore Dalrymple notes in his Romancing Opiates, of which Encounter Books has just released a revised edition.  Countless writers, Dalrymple points out in the book, from Coleridge and De Quincey to William Burroughs and Irving Walsh, have invested opiate addiction with deep philosophical significance.  Addicts are presumed to be in touch with profound mysteries of which non-addicts are ignorant. 

In Romancing Opiates, Dalrymple shows that doctors, psychologists and social workers, all of them uncritically accepting addicts' descriptions of addiction, have employed these literary myths in creating an equal and opposite myth of quasi-treatment. 

Dalrymple is a psychiatrist and prison doctor who treats heroin addicts.  He writes a column for the London Spectator, contributes frequently to the Daily Telegraph, and is a contributing editor of City Journal, published by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research in New York City.

Using evidence from literature and pharmacology and drawing on examples from his own clinical experience, Dalrymple shows in the book that addiction is not a disease, but a response to personal and existential problems.  He argues that withdrawal from opiates is not the serious medical condition, but a relatively trivial experience.  He says that criminality causes addiction far more often than addiction causes criminality.

"Since the first edition of this book was published" in 2006, Dalrymple writes in a new preface for the revised edition, "I have seen neither an attempt to deny the elementary and publicly available facts upon which its argument is based, nor a refutation of its logic."

Encounter Books is an activity of Encounter for Culture and Education, a nonprofit group that is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  Bradley also supports the Manhattan Institute.
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