Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear


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by Dr. Carl L. Hart

From the Publisher: Dr. Carl L. Hart, Ziff Professor at Columbia University and former chair of the Department of Psychology, is one of the world’s preeminent experts on the effects of so-called recreational drugs on the human mind and body. Dr. Hart is open about the fact that he uses drugs himself, in a happy balance with the rest of his full and productive life as a researcher and professor, husband, father, and friend. In Drug Use for Grown-Ups, he draws on decades of research and his own personal experience to argue definitively that the criminalization and demonization of drug use–not drugs themselves–have been a tremendous scourge on America, not least in reinforcing this country’s enduring structural racism.

Dr. Hart did not always have this view. He came of age in one of Miami’s most troubled neighborhoods at a time when many ills were being laid at the door of crack cocaine. His initial work as a researcher was aimed at proving that drug use caused bad outcomes. But one problem kept cropping up: the evidence from his research did not support his hypothesis. From inside the massively well-funded research arm of the American war on drugs, he saw how the facts did not support the ideology. The truth was dismissed and distorted in order to keep fear and outrage stoked, the funds rolling in, and Black and brown bodies behind bars.

Drug Use for Grown-Ups will be controversial, to be sure: the propaganda war, Dr. Hart argues, has been tremendously effective. Imagine if the only subject of any discussion about driving automobiles was fatal car crashes. Drug Use for Grown-Ups offers a radically different vision: when used responsibly, drugs can enrich and enhance our lives. We have a long way to go, but the vital conversation this book will generate is an extraordinarily important step.

Praise for the Book: “[Hart’s] positions may seem quite extreme to some but they also, by and large, make a lot of sense–and are backed up by ample research . . . A major reason drugs have such a negative public image, Hart asserts, is racism . . . eye-opening.” – NPR.org

“Hart’s argument that we need to drastically revise our current view of illegal drugs is both powerful and timely . . . when it comes to the legacy of this country’s war on drugs, we should all share his outrage.” – The New York Times Book Review


“One of the most thought-provoking reads I’ve had the pleasure of exploring in a long time . . .” – Trevor Noah, The Daily Show

“You may not agree with the author’s personal enthusiasm for recreational drug use (and I happen not to). Nonetheless, Drug Use For Grown-Ups is a powerful, convincing tour of the hypocrisy that underlies so many of our drug laws, and the brutally unequal ways in which the laws are enforced. One shares Hart’s fury at how, as per usual, it is the weak and marginalized members of society who are most targeted.” – Robert Sapolsky, author of Behave

“Dr. Carl Hart challenges our popular assumptions about drug addiction both through science and through a forthright account of hiw own heroin use. Drug Use For Grown-Ups makes a powerful case against stigmatizing–and criminalizing–adults who get high.” – Shane Bauer, author of American Prison

About the Author: Carl Hart is the Ziff Professor of Psychology in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry at Columbia University. He is also a Research Scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute. Professor Hart has published numerous scientific and popular articles in the area of neuropsychopharmacology and is co-author of the textbook Drugs, Society and Human Behavior (with Charles Ksir). His book High Price was the 2014 winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award.

ISBN: 1101981660    –    EAN: 9781101981665

Additional information

Weight 9 oz
Dimensions 8.4 × 5.6 × 0.9 in