Rethinking Drug Addiction and Treatment

Neuroscience journalist Maia Szalavitz on recovering from substance use disorder, the myths and misconceptions of addiction and the importance of harm reduction.

Listen 50:25

When Maia Szalavitz was in the throes of her drug addiction she was injecting speed balls, a mixture of heroin and cocaine, as much as 40 times a day. She is one of the lucky ones who survived her addiction, got good quality treatment and is now a journalist who covers addiction and drug policies.

She joins us to talk about how trauma, temperament, despair and mental illness drive our drug epidemic and why the war on drugs has has been a colossal failure by criminalizing users and promoting myths and misconceptions about drug use. Her book, Undoing Drugs, is about the promise of a harm reduction approach to addiction which removes stigma and humanizes the users. It grew out of the activism of the AIDS crisis of the 1980’s.

She writes that drug overdoses kill more Americans every year than guns and that it’s time to completely rethink our approach to policy and treatment.

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