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Theodore Dalrymple believes that almost everything people know about opiate addiction is wrong. Most flawed of all is the notion that addicts are in touch with profound mysteries of which non-addicts are ignorant. Dalrymple shows that doctors, psychologists and social workers, all of them uncritically accepting addicts' descriptions of addiction, have employed literary myths (drugs are creative and intense) in constructing an equal and opposite myth of quasi-treatment. Using evidence from literature and pharmacology and drawing on examples from his own clinical experience, Dalrymple shows 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 and says that criminality causes addiction far more often than addiction causes criminality.
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