Follow Up to Hari – Moral Aspect & Stigma Bullshit

The Moral Aspect

     The problem with making assumptions or drawing conclusions by simply observing something is that you have still have no actual experience of what you’re observing, so here is the truth instead. And the truth is important when we talk about addiction, given how lethal it is for us and how gut-wrenching it is for those who love us. 

     There are many false assumptions about the moral aspect of addiction, and in fact, if you wanna bitch about stigmatizing things, then stop stigmatizing morality as well. The blind, kumbaya-humming crowd believe addiction is not a moral failure because addicts cannot control their drinking and using. First of all, how do you think they lost control to begin with? To go from a normal sober person to an addict with no control, I’m pretty sure you gotta use a few times first.

     When I first smoked weed or first ate an OxyContin or first cut up a line of heroin and sniffed it up, I KNEW IT WAS THE WRONG THING TO DO. Everybody knows that. Everybody knows it’s wrong to use drugs. Let’s get our heads out of the sand, shall we? Of course, now you have people saying that morality is relative and doesn’t (shouldn’t) exist. Wait a second, let’s back up. How do we know if something is wrong? Because it hurts self and others. Settled.

     So if using drugs hurts self and others and the person hasn’t lost control yet, it is clearly wrong to be using drugs. And guess what? It’s still wrong after we lose control, as we have simply lost control of doing the wrong thing. Get it? It still hurts others regardless of whether we have control or not. Losing control doesn’t suddenly change something that is wrong to something that is not wrong. Plus, the act of using enough drugs to go from ‘in control’ to ‘out of control’ is a voluntary act. Losing control is the result of multiple wrong acts. That is a moral failure. Case closed.

     But then you also have this assertion that plenty of people lose control from some painkiller they were prescribed and are therefore not engaging in any such moral failure, nor are they exhibiting any such character flaws (Oh get thee back you evil term ‘character defect’ – so evil and stigmatizing!). Sure, any non-addict taking pills AS PRESCRIBED for legitimate pain is not committing a wrong. However, everything changes as soon as either a) we start taking more than the prescribed dose, b) we continue eating the pills long after the pain is gone, or c) we lose control over the course of our regimen and then continue getting high by getting more pills, buying drugs elsewhere, or changing drugs.

     (By the way, this ‘allergy’ we speak of crosses ALL lines, by the way. Alcoholic = addict. It’s just one allergy to any and all mood-altering substances, so those AA guys who tell addicts or potheads to get out of AA are imbeciles. They are actively preventing people from getting better).

     To continue with the previous situation, it is also wrong if we are aware of a pre-existing drug problem (i.e. we know we are addicts) and allow the doctor to prescribe us a bottle of painkillers because we had a single wisdom tooth pulled. That is dishonest and we are actively doing the wrong thing because we know that once we start, we have no control. Plus we are wimps. Pain is good for addicts. The more pain and the more humility, the better. Same for narcissists, sociopaths, and, yes, people wallowing in depression. I know that will appall some readers but all three do share many of the same criteria – lack of feeling, lack of empathy, disturbed relationships, edginess, image problems, self-hatred, pathological focus on self…

     At any rate, sure it isn’t wrong to inadvertently or cluelessly become dependent while simply taking prescribed painkillers ‘as prescribed’, but again, once we lose control we no longer have the right to continue using. No matter how you slice it, using drugs is wrong and it is most certainly a moral failure – whether you still have control or not. Losing power doesn’t suddenly change the act of using from wrong to not wrong. Why? Because the effect is still very much the same: Harm to self and those who love us. Furthermore, we also maintain the responsibility to regain our power, once lost.

     By the way, I am re-printing The Privileged Addict so it reads easier. The line and paragraph spacing is closer, as well as a few other minor changes, so that should help some readers who were annoyed at the original layout.

Comments/Responses from original Hari post: 


You’re right. Hari’s wrong. I was so offended by his ignorant nonsense that I haven’t listened to a TED talk since I heard it, but I’m still reading your posts regularly. I’ll be getting your second book, too.

Totally agree. Tons of people have asserted this for years and years and years, so it is nothing novel as he implies. More importantly, it has very little or nothing at all to do with addiction, whether fueling, maintaining, preventing or removing it. Thanks so much for reading.


Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on this talk. This is really, really good stuff. Especially for parents and partners. I think I’m going to come back and reread this post many times, as there are so many good things to remember in it. Thanks again.

Hey thank you, and my pleasure entirely.

I remember a while ago some clinician posted a comment that what I was doing was extremely destructive. Lol. The piece he couldn’t stand was about the failure of various conventional treatment methods, such as trigger identification / relapse prevention and so forth. He said that writing down (invented) triggers (and then trying to avoid them) “works for most people”.

I wrote back suggesting he go talk to some moms. I don’t know if he ever did, but if so, he would have very soon realized the bitter failure of such methods, which do less than nothing to fix or even address what ails the addict, let alone remove his condition of insanity.

At any rate, Hari’s “connection” idea, which by the way is mainstream (so I don’t understand the title of the talk/article) is the same type of thing, where we try to attribute addiction to something external and/or sentimental. Nonsense.

*Note: I may do several of these follows ups to address many of the false mainstream ideas that we find confusing as they just don’t pass the ‘gut test’, as it were.

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