The Road to H: Narcotics, Delinquency, and Social Policy

The Road to H: Narcotics, Delinquency, and Social Policy

The Road to H: Narcotics, Delinquency, and Social Policy

The Road to H: Narcotics, Delinquency, and Social Policy

Excerpt

"H" is for heaven; "H" is for hell; "H" is for heroin. In the life of the addict, these three meanings of "H" seem inextricably intertwined.

How and why does addiction happen? What, if anything, should be done about it? These are the basic questions to which this book is addressed. They are complex questions, not merely in the sense that many factors must be taken into account in answering them, but also in the sense that they reach beyond the borders of the intellect and the devices with which one ordinarily tries to find answers to intellectually challenging questions. Although we have attempted to approach these questions as behavioral scientists, bringing to bear many research and analytic techniques and trying to lay bare fundamental facts, we rather doubt that it is possible to answer them dispassionately.

When one tries to answer these questions, he finds himself profoundly implicated. The addict is not simply an alien specimen that can be placed under a microscope, coldly dissected, or otherwise displayed to our disinterested and detached observation. He is a human being; that, in itself, is enough to implicate us. No matter how offensive and destructive we may find his behavior, we cannot regard him as a merely noxious object, an insensate thing, or less than human creature without to some degree dehumanizing ourselves. Moreover, however insufficient the sheer fact of our common humanity may be as a basis of empathic communion, the addict stands before us as a stark model of what the rest of us might have made of ourselves; insofar as we sense in his life story a tragedy of temptation and fall, he serves as a bleak reminder of our own vulnerability to temptation and of our own desperate hope never to be cut off from all possibility of redemption.

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