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It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.

In Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hit-man in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari's discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade--and it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalize every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.

Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war--in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial--and consequential--questions of our time


Where do I start with this book?!...honestly I am still recovering from how much it blew my mind and opened my eyes to the many prejudices and narrow minded outlooks we have on drugs, what they do and the people who use them. ⁣Such a great book club pick from one of my friends!⁣

Chasing The Scream is a book for everyone. The way it is written is so accessible and easy and very quickly you realise that you are not being talked at or being preached some high and mighty messages. Hari has done an amazing job in turning this hugely controversial and difficult topic into something that everyone can open themselves up to. ⁣The stories he tells will break the hearts of even the toughest and they put faces to the many tragedies that occur each and every day as a result of not drugs, but the war on drugs.

This book isn’t just about addiction, it goes way beyond that and to the very route as to why we have such problems with drugs around the world; the war on drugs. I won’t lie, I assumed drugs were always illegal...that is not at all the case. This is the alcohol prohibition on a way bigger scale that is still going 100 years later. And this system is the root cause of the problems that surround drugs to this day. From violence, to tragedy, to death and more, you very quickly learn that a lot of what we have been told about the drugs themselves being the problem is not true. It’s the system around them. ⁣

One thing that visualised our prejudice so well is how Hari talks about 90% of drug users being perfectly functioning members of society. Only 10% become what we call addicts! So why does that 10% make up of 100% of the image of drugs?! It's like the image of alcohol being the poor homeless guy on the corner with an empty bottle in his hand. Just stating it as simply as that blew my mind.

Another thing that is so clearly highlighted in this book is the vicious cycle that is now in place when it comes to drugs and the violence and tragedy that surrounds them. Let me put it like this:

  1. Drugs are legal and can be bought in controlled environments. Many people (even those we would least expect) take a small dose of drugs (from weed to cocaine and beyond) like many of us have a glass of wine in the evening.

  2. Drugs are made illegal and suddenly access to them is really hard to find and due to the risks and demand, prices go up. Those who used to be able to afford their little daily fixes must now find ways to get to their drug and due to the high prices, they start doing things they wouldn't normally do in order to get the money.

  3. Because drugs are illegal, most of what is available on the streets is dangerous and badly cut. Like the alcohol prohibition, if you are going to risk importing an illegal substance, you are going to do it with whiskey not beer; more bang for your buck and more customers for the same amount.

  4. Illegal drugs means very little control which mean the market falls into dangerous hands. The violence that comes from drugs is not from the drugs themselves, it is the fight to claim your corner and own that part of the market.

So yeah...the system that is now in place to 'control drug use' is not actually helping at all. It's costing more tax payers money because so many people are arrested for drug possession, when this money could be used to help these people and educate kids on drugs.

And then when you quickly learn in the book that the initial launch of the war in drugs was so rooted in racism!!!'s just mad to think that things like this can happen and no one does anything to stop it.

And then you move on to the part in the book about addiction itself and this just adds to the number of heart breaking and incomprehensible horrors that so many people have experienced because they're sick. And that the drug itself is not the sole thing responsible for the addiction, if anything it nearly plays the smallest role. The drug is the escape these people need from the unspeakable atrocities they have had to live through. From child abuse, to rape, to neglect, addiction is rooted so much more than chemicals and is the ultimate cry for help.

I could honestly go on forever about this book. Just read it. Whether you use drugs or not, this will open your eyes in a way that they have never been opened. ⁣It has made me challenge my perception of a world I know little about and to see people with addiction as what they are; victims.

I'm not suddenly saying everyone should go out and do drugs and that is not the point of this book. My outlook on this world will never be the same and I am so thankful for that.


Eye Opening

Heart Breaking

A Must Read


'Addiction is a disease of loneliness.'






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