Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Magazine article The Spectator

Second Opinion

Article excerpt

I prefer alcoholics to drug addicts. They are more often people of character and are much more amusing. Even their special pleading (for themselves) is often funny, and they can be brought to see it. By contrast, drug addicts whine horribly and frequently turn nasty.

I see a lot of drug addicts. They clutch their abdomens with their arms in an effort to impress the doctor with the severity of their withdrawal symptoms, intestinal cramps being one of them. But as often as not the doctor has seen them laughing and joking with their peers Shortly before.

Last week a drug addict came to see me in the prison.

'Will I get my meffadone?' he asked.

'No,' I replied.

'What about sleepers?'

'No, no sleepers either.'

'But I can't sleep. I haven't slept for three days. I got to get my head down.'

'No sleepers.'

'Then it's on your head,' he said. 'It'll be on your conscience.'

'What will?'

'You'll see.' He meant suicide, of course. Were it not for the administrative inconvenience that his suicide would cause afterwards - not that it was very likely, except as a stupid gesture that got out of hand - I should have taken the Humean view that self-slaughter was his inalienable right. …

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