This is astonishing. An organization called “Project Prevention” led by a person by the name of Barbara Harris is offering money, which she openly admits to be bribes, to UK addicts who will submit to sterilization.

This comes after some 3,500 Americans were previously paid to not have children. The BBC report is here.


Founder Barbara Harris’ bio from the Project Prevention web site:

Director and Founder- Barbara Harris: Former foster parent, PTA member, founded interracial organization in 1992, actively recruits foster parents, adoptive parent, author of assembly Bill 2614 CA, speaker at private organizations/groups in regards to drug addicted babies.

This all seems kind of spooky to me.

Comments

  1. #1 Fred
    October 17, 2010

    How much do they pay…?

  2. #2 Wyatt
    October 18, 2010

    What, you need a fix, Fred?

  3. #3 MadScientist
    October 18, 2010

    I can imagine their ads: Get fixed for your next fix!

    It may sound appalling, but what is the ethical concern here?

  4. #4 Jason
    October 18, 2010

    My ethical concern would be around how it’s determined that these “addicts” aren’t being coerced into something they wouldn’t otherwise do.

    After all, in that situation, would you be thinking straight when you signed the papers?

    If properly informed consent can be determined, then fair enough. Individuals can sign up to be sterilised if they want. But it seems like it might be preying on a vulnerable segment of society that may not be able to give properly informed consent.

  5. #5 Snarkyxanf
    October 18, 2010

    The ethical concern is that it’s a program targeting a vulnerable population for the purported benefit of others, and in a way that follows the ideas of coercive programs (e.g. traditional eugenics) with ‘voluntary’ methods that skirting the edge of coercion (bribery).

    This program as it stands right now might not be an ethical disaster, but it’s the sort of situation that lends itself to moral trainwrecks.

  6. #6 Drivebyposter
    October 18, 2010

    Maybe they should give incentives to those that do get fixed, in the general public I mean. It might help with overpopulation in some areas and put a little bit of extra money into the economy.

  7. #7 Phillip IV
    October 18, 2010

    Snarkyxanf @ #5:

    The ethical concern is that it’s a program targeting a vulnerable population for the purported benefit of others, and in a way that follows the ideas of coercive programs (e.g. traditional eugenics)

    In fact it seems that the CA Assembly Bill she authored was designed as a coercive program (forcing mothers who had given birth to a drug-addicted infant to use ‘long term birth control’ for the rest of their lives), but failed to pass – that’s when she settled on bribery instead.

    She’s also rather defensive when it comes to the issue of racism, but in that regard her branching out to the UK lends a greater air of authenticity to her denials.

  8. #8 sailor
    October 18, 2010

    I vaguely remember an Indian program in my youth to encourage males to get vasectomies they were offering transistor radios. Cartoons of Indians leaning out of windows and shouting to passing women “want to come listen to my radio” were prevalent.

    Our species has overpopulated this planet. I am not going to get all riles up over anyone offering inducements not to have babies.

  9. #9 DuWayne
    October 18, 2010

    While I am not keen on the eugenics bent, I have no problem with bribing drug addicts to get sterilised. While I can see some room for abuse, it isn’t really a bad idea. A hell of a lot better in fact, than someone who can’t stop using (insert drug of choice) carrying a baby to term while on it.

    It sounds creepy, but so does having infant after infant, born addicted to (insert drug of choice) or born with serious neurological deficits. Of course that is just the beginning of the problems for this hypothetical child. It is rather likely that this child is going to end up in the foster care system, shuffled from home to home and quite unlikely to be adopted (kids with these sorts of issues are generally “unadobtable”). And say they find a family that would like to adopt them – that family will then have to deal with the birth mother and the courts, fighting and waiting for them to determine whether or not the birth mother might work out after all. In some states they will delay adoption for X years, even if the birth mother consents – in case she gets better and changes her mind.

    Fuck that. I really don’t like the idea of hysterectomies, it would be nice to find a long term solution for women, that doesn’t involve major surgery. But I have absolutely no problem with bribing addicts to get sterilised. Snipping men is easy enough and a wonderful place to start.

    It has been pointed out that we have a certain and growing problem with overpopulation. It may take some time yet to reach critical mass, but it will. I am not particularly inclined to get upset about programs that will help reduce that, by avoiding the conception of children who will have a substantial number, if not all of the factors that define “at risk” kids.

    And before there is more whining about the vulnerability of that particular population, I know exactly what sort of vulnerability we’re talking about. I spent most of my formative years and adult life, struggling with substance abuse (still do, but with success). And as much as I love my children, there is no question they have and will suffer due to the substance abuse of their parents. They had no say in who brought them into this world and it is going to take a lot of work on my part to mitigate as much of the damage as possible.

    Better for them, had someone paid me to get snipped (or even just fucking allowed me to when I tried at twenty). They are great kids and I will do the best for them I can. But there is no denying that they got fucked over in the parenting department, no matter how good we might be in certain parenting contexts. And as far as this sort of thing goes, they’re rather privileged – relative to most children of addicts.

  10. #10 MacTurk
    October 18, 2010

    Could this program be extended to other anti-social wastes of energy and oxygen like, I don’t know……Creationists, Tea Party members, religious loons in general? I mean, I could see the point then. No-one want Ms O’Donnell to have a baby, do they?

  11. #11 stripey_cat
    October 18, 2010

    DuWayne – they can sterilise women without hysterectomy. They tie off the Fallopian tubes, I think, so it’s a bit more invasive than for men, and reversals don’t have such a high success rate, but it’s not the really major surgery of removing the whole womb-ovaries unit.

    Of course, here in the UK the big problem if you’re a childless woman is persuading a doctor that you really do want to be fixed, and that you’re not going to change your mind in a few years. I have a friend who is now 39, has been trying to get sterilised for more than two decades, and is finally being referred to a surgeon who may be willing to perform the op. If it’s magically easier for addicts, especially for unwaged, non-white addicts, my internal alarm bell will start screaming.

  12. #12 DuWayne
    October 18, 2010

    stripey_cat –

    Of course, here in the UK the big problem if you’re a childless woman is persuading a doctor that you really do want to be fixed, and that you’re not going to change your mind in a few years.

    It isn’t quite that bad here, especially if you have good insurance or money – but it’s still for shit. I tried to get fixed when I was twenty and Planned Parenthood wouldn’t even give me a referral. Apparently it was (at least at the time) not legal. I finally got snipped last year and even then they were required to give me “counselling” to make sure that I really wanted to.

    This shit pisses me off like you wouldn’t believe. Bad enough that the state refuses to give us the autonomy to choose whether we want to get some help to die or use a variety of recreational drugs. This fucking invasion into reproductive decision making by doctors and to in some places the state, is absolutely fucking unconscionable.

    In that context, I would have to agree with your alarm bell on this.

  13. #13 Marcus Aurelius
    October 19, 2010

    I think Barbara Harris is doing marvellous work. If drug addicts cared about kids, they’d clean up their act or not have the kids in the first place.

    More on the controversy:
    http://rulehibernia.com/2010/10/project-prevention-better-than-cure

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2010

    Here’s the thing: 99% of the time (or all the time, perhaps) sterilization programs other than purely voluntary no-bribe no-coercion availability of the procedures have been linked to demonstrably nefarious movements, organizations, governments, or policies.

    Do we think that this woman and her organization are benign? I assume that when I see something like this we are looking at a philosophy that would not be desirable if linked to any actual power.

    Gee, it might also be useful and some how make sense for certain people, people of a certain category, to wear a large yellow marker on their outer-most clothing so they can be identified while walking down the street, in a store, etc. That could make sense.

  15. #15 Marcus Aurelius
    October 19, 2010

    Yellow markers? What a strawman argument. You’re not demonstrating anything about Project Prevention’s work, you’re just slapping your own biases on it and calling it a day. Where’s your moral outrage for the drug addicts who have kids they neglect and abuse from before birth?

  16. #16 Stephanie Z
    October 19, 2010

    Marcus, where’s your outrage for the addicts who do the same thing but can afford a life away from Ms. Harris’s prying eyes? Why not work to make these services available to everyone and stigma-free instead of waving a little cash flag that says, “Come agree with me that your reproductive future is worth only a pittance”?

  17. #17 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2010

    Marcus, I did no such thing. I pointed out to those jumping on the bandwagon of sterilizing those who’s lifestyle you dislike that when such things have happened in the past little good and sometimes much bad came of it. I did that because I saw no one else pointing this out, and was a little embarrassed on behalf of my fellow human.

    I would further submit that there is a pretty good chance that many of those jumping on this bandwagon know too little of the lifways, lifestyle, ethics, problems, potentials, demographics, or anything else of the group that she is trying to spay and neuter to fairly determine if, by some criterion or another (and who the hell knows what that is), this is fair.

    Many of the problems of the US could be solved, over a generation’s time, if we sterilized evangelical fundamentalist Christians and teabaggers. But it would be absurd to suggest that.

    (But, since it’s been brought up … )

  18. #18 Marcus Aurelius
    October 19, 2010

    Making sterilisation more socially acceptable and free of charge sounds like a fair alternative. I disagree with the notion that she is forcing anyone here, hence my objections to the comparison with eugenics.

  19. #19 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2010

    When someone is addicted to a seriously addictive drug, and they need cash to get a fix, and you offer them the cash … for a price they can actually afford (once) … there is a question as to whether there is really choice here. Rather, what is happening is someone’s weakness is being exploited to achieve a social engineering goal.

    It is like eugenics but it is not really eugenics because we do not believe that we are avoiding another generation of addict by making sure today’s addict is sterilized. Rather, we’d be avoiding the public welfare costs of caring for the offspring of an addict. Or, to paraphrase from the person who cooked up this idea, we are avoiding paying the cost of the addict breading like a rabbit, having one child every year.

    Unless, of course, there is a presumption that an addict will beget an addict. Is that on the table here as well?

  20. #20 DuWayne
    October 19, 2010

    First Greg, I would like to point out that I am quite aware of what addiction is. I have experienced it firsthand and in that experience, spent a lot of time around other addicts of many stripes. I am not terribly keen on who is doing it, but I am not averse to encouraging addicts to reproduce.

    While my own children are wonderful, brilliant kids, they are also dealing with way more shit than small children should. Eldest has severe emotional problems, despite them being relatively privileged as far as the kids of addicts go. And tomorrow they are going to be losing their mother. At least for two years, possibly permanently.

    As much as I love them, am glad to have them in my life and will do absofuckinglutly everything I can to mitigate the damage, their mom and I screwed them over. We screwed them over by having them. They are at risk in several ways and not to some small degree. Had I actually been sterilized when I fucking tried to years ago, to small boys wouldn’t have been through hell and about to go through more.

    And yes, the problems are largely due to the addictive behaviours of their parents – as well as our other mental issues.

    Unless, of course, there is a presumption that an addict will beget an addict. Is that on the table here as well?

    Absolutely there is. There has been study after study that have indicated that the odds are exceptionally high, that the children of addicts will become addicts themselves. The range runs from about sixty odd percent to as high as eighty seven percent of the children of addicts will become addicts themselves. Of risk factors for drug abuse and addiction, having parents who are addicts tops the list.

    This is not just in the case of parents who are addicts while raising their child either. Even those who clean up before the child is born – before conception, still have an at risk child. There are several theories for why that is the case, a couple of which are very likely true. First, many of the neurological problems that tend to have high comorbidity rates with addiction, are suspected to be heritable – whether through genetics or environment. Second, behaviours that might have some link to addictive behaviours might still be exhibited by the addict, long after they get clean – kids pick up said behaviours to the extent that they develop neural pathways around them.

    Whatever the reason, there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that the children of addicts are extremely likely to be addicts themselves. It is substantially more likely they will become addicts, than not. This is one of the most important reasons for my interest in addiction and addiction research. It is also largely why I want to explore addiction from a cross cultural perspective.

    Look, I am cognisant of the history of coerced sterilisation. This isn’t something that I take lightly or am making an off the cuff response to. Considering how much time I have spent thinking about this in the context of my own life, I assure you that I have considered it in great detail. I don’t like coerced sterilisation. I just happen to like what happens to most of the children of addicts even less. And yes, I am including the upheaval of my own children’s lives in that statement.

    If they get their shit together and believe they can be and want to be a competent parent later, there is no shortage of children needing adoption.

  21. #21 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2010

    DuWayne, I don’t think we should take books away from kids who are bad readers, but rather help them to read. I’m pretty darn sure that our society has done very little compared to what it can do to avoid this sort of problem them mitigate when it arises anyway. Sterilization is being proposed here because it is a good, viable solution to an intractable problem. I don’t accept that the problem is intractable.

    I also don’t think that everyone is automatically a good parent just because they figure out how to have sex and manage to not kill the fetus along the way with their dumbosity or other problems. There is no mommy instinct or daddy instinct. Yet, a very large number of parents are very very bad at it, and only some of them are addicts. If sterilization should be offered somewhat agressively to addicts because they may be bad parents, shouldn’t it also be offered to anyone who might be poorly educated or poorly socialized or, I dunno, maybe foreigners or people with po-lice records or whatever?

    Regarding the parent-offspring link. Please back up and look at what you are saying. There are numerous things that have familial links, and yes, addition is one of them (no, I’m not hearing this from you for the first time). If the assumption in the program that we are talking about, or among some who support the idea, is that addiction is genetic so we should weed the population of those genes, than this very clearly and certainly IS a eugenics program. And that makes me very uncomfortable. If the assumption is that there are behavioral routes that can link the behavior of the parent with the behavior of the offspring but NOT genetically, then the argument falls apart for that reason, going back to what I said at the beginning of this comment: Our society has dropped the ball on this and the fact that we have failed due to our own inadequacy is not a reason to bunt.

    Most of the problems of this world, you know, are caused by people of means who are mainly of European ancestry (plus a few guys from Japan). If we want to solve the problems of the world for the next generation, sterilize the wealth hoarders and redistribute their money. Funny thing, though … this suggestion will be assumed by all to be tongue in cheek, and no rich white guys are going to have their tubes cut. But the proposal to trade money for sterilization to people desperate enough, due to their addiction, to take the deal is being made quite seriously and there have already been a fair number of people who’s reproductive systems have been mutilated because elements in our society have decided that society has done enough and can do no more.

    Policy FAIL. Humanity FAIL. Public health FAIL. Compassion FAIL.

    Godwin’s Law: “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1.”

    Laden’s corollary: “As the Nazi’s regress into the murky past of history, normal thoughtful people forget to not be Nazi’s”

    (Note that both are meant to be humorous. Not that this is all that funny, but whatever.)

    I am opposed to the sterilization of people based on their behavior.

  22. #22 Greg Laden
    October 19, 2010

    Oh, and when I say I’m opposed to this sterilization program, please understand that I don’t care if these dipwads get sterilized, for the most part. I get what DuWayne is saying. I am also opposed to the death penalty but did not care that Timothy McVeigh was executed. At all.

    One is a personal feeling, desire, reaction, the other is how I want civilization to work. If we based our desires for how civilization should work on our desire, feeling, reaction … that wouldn’t be civilization.

  23. #23 DuWayne
    October 19, 2010

    I don’t think you actually do get what I am saying Greg. While I am the last one to suggest that society isn’t dropping the ball on addiction, this isn’t a simple problem. You mentioned in an earlier comment, that you question the free-will of someone with an addiction being offered money to do something. There is a flip side to that – what about the free-will decision not to get better?

    This is a complicated issue and the answers aren’t always obvious. We really need to get past moralising addiction, before we can truly begin to deal with addiction and substance use disorders. All we really tend to do is talk about substance use disorders as a consummate evil and because of that we can’t do a fucking thing about it.

    When I am talking about the problem of children of addicts becoming addicts, I am not talking about something we need to weed out through eugenics. That isn’t going to happen. I am a perfect example of just how big a fail that is, because my parents aren’t substance abusers and never have been. What I am talking about, is reducing a huge fucking risk factor. More importantly, I am talking about preventing children from a great deal of suffering before they ever have the opportunity to become drug addicts.

    Have you ever actually spent time around the children of substance abusers? I’ve spent time around a whole hell of a lot of them. With very few exceptions, there lives are shit. There is some variation in just how shit they are, but being the child of an addict almost always sucks disease infested donkey balls. I understand that a lot of parents are shit and their children have shitty lives – I get that. The difference here is that these children are virtually guaranteed a shit life.

    And even those who manage to rise above it and have not so shitty lives, struggle against it to get there.

    I would love to fix the problems of addiction. That would be why I am all about focusing my career on trying to do just that. I would be fantastically happy if we just managed to get rid of this obnoxious fucking moralising problem. But I would also love to see less kids suffering because their parents are irresponsible, drug addled gits.

    And for the record, I am not the least bit oblivious to the connotations. I actually happen to be rather thoughtful and, as I mentioned, have spent a lot of time on this one. I have mixed feelings about coercive sterilisation, but in this context really don’t have a better solution. Whether encouraging them with money or merely convincing them it is best, I would love to see fewer addicts reproducing.

  24. #24 DuWayne
    October 20, 2010

    wow, that was a little incoherent. Sorry, that is what happens when I am way too distracted to comment reasonably. And I am more than a little distracted – was especially so last night.

    I think you fail to really comprehend the nature (or more accurately, natures) of addiction Greg. We aren’t talking about some monolithic entity that can be functionally fixed with any singular solution. While there’s no question that we don’t do nearly what we can, there is also only so much we can do at this point.

    When it comes to kids and addict parents, there are jurisdictions that bend over backwards to help. The ex and I took a parenting class while we were in Portland, for example. More than half the class were people who have substance abuse problems. Only one other couple besides us, was there without a court order. It really doesn’t make much of a difference though. Not because the culture in Portland doesn’t want to help, not even because most of the parents don’t want to be better parents.

    The problem is that we just don’t know how to make it better. In part because in a room of twenty odd substance abusers, you have twenty odd substance abuse problems that require twenty odd different solutions. And even should they manage to get better, we still don’t understand how these peripheral problems work – such as why their children are still so very likely to become substance abusers. It’s no wonder that we don’t either, because we’re still dealing with very different substance abusers.

    Beyond what we don’t know, one of the things that we do know is that a lot of “clean” addicts are still dysfunctional parents. An unfortunate side effect of twelve step recovery programs is that they overtly encourage continued dependence – just on something other than the original substance of abuse. The addict still engages in the addictive behaviours, they just don’t happen to translate that to actual substance use. This is fine for getting clean, but doesn’t change the fundamentally selfish nature.

    As for your argument about emotion and society – bullshit. We make laws and develop political positions based on emotion all the time. Sometimes good positions, sometimes bad. While you have very good arguments for your position on guns, you really can’t argue that it isn’t based on emotions. I am also making a very reasonable argument for why addicts really shouldn’t reproduce, that also happens to have a strong emotional context. That many other people should also not reproduce is irrelevant. This is a discussion about people who, having specific characteristics should not be reproducing.

    In all honesty, there are a hell of a lot of people who shouldn’t reproduce. I would love to see massive campaigns to encourage people (through educated, reasoned arguments – not pay) to ensure no accidents are made by getting fixed. But just as I would prefer that people with certain other extreme mental illnesses not reproduce, I don’t think it is necessarily an inherently bad idea to provide more motivation to addicts to get fixed.

    I hope that someday we will have better solutions, but we don’t. Maybe in time we can figure out the problem of republicans too. Until we do however, it is important for us to find ways to mitigate the damage. In the case of republicans, we need to find political balls. In the case of addicts, discouraging reproduction is a viable option for reducing suffering.

  25. #25 Greg Laden
    October 20, 2010

    There is a flip side to that – what about the free-will decision not to get better?

    I don’t think that is a valid flip side. Addicts could be said to have damaged free will. Imagine handing out a social welfare benefit to war-wounded who could win a certain foot race or schizophrenics who could pass a certain cognitive coherency test. This is handing out a social benefit (in reverse) to addicts who are … not demonstrating addictive behavior.

    This is a complicated issue and the answers aren’t always obvious. We really need to get past moralising addiction, before we can truly begin to deal with addiction and substance use disorders.

    Absolutely. I just think that sterilizing people is a strong moral statement!

    What I am talking about, is reducing a huge fucking risk factor. More importantly, I am talking about preventing children from a great deal of suffering before they ever have the opportunity to become drug addicts.

    That is very true, and the current system routinely removes kids from addict (or otherwise fucked up) parents. And, having those kids not be born to begin with is a very attractive idea, and it would absolutely certainly work.

    Have you ever actually spent time around the children of substance abusers?

    I have indeed been around the block a few times.

    We aren’t talking about some monolithic entity that can be functionally fixed with any singular solution.

    DuWayne, it isn’t helpful to keep telling me that I don’t understand the complexities, or have not experienced or observed the misery. I do, I have, and it should not matter that much anyway.

    Indeed, sterilization is a rather one-dimensional fix (pardon the pun) to a very complex problem. And, if you read my comments above (way back) you’ll see that I’m asking other commenters to try to understand that the situation is more complex than it is being treated as.

    We can agree to disagree, but I’m going to vote “no” on any policy of coercive (implied or explicit) sterilization, and vote against any candidate who supports such a thing. Not all solutions, even “good” solutions, are acceptable. And there are some slopes, and sometimes they are slippery.

    You are also ignoring the fact that, while it is true as you say that “In all honesty, there are a hell of a lot of people who shouldn’t reproduce. ” (this can be applied to everyone if quantified … no one should have more than one or two kids) major demographic shifs do in fact happen, and yes, education and other factors tend to reduce fertility.

    Maybe in time we can figure out the problem of republicans too.

    Well, they should just be sterilized.

    Here’s a question for you, seriously (I figure you’ll have these data or the ability to estimate it): What are the Markovian factors here? In other words, what numbers (probabilities) would go into this chart:

    Non Addict –> Addict offsprign
    Addict …> Addict offspring
    Non Addict –> NonAddict Offspring
    Addict —> Non Addict Offspring

    If A -> A is high, which it probably is, that’s bad, but is it the case that the first A in a series always comes from N? And, isn’t that a very effective route to reduce the total proportion across all A fields?

  26. #26 DuWayne
    October 21, 2010

    Greg -

    I do have some estimates, with the addicts as starting point being rather more accurate. There is much more solid data from that dimension, because it can be taken from actual addicts as parents, in the system.

    N –> A = abt six or seven percent
    A –> A = between sixty seven and eighty percent
    N –> N = ninety odd percent
    A –> N = between seventeen and thirty percent

    This assumes there are a significant number of people who cannot be pegged as clearly N or A. And yes, somewhere in there A’s came from N’s somewhere along the line. Given what we actually do understand about addiction however, that line isn’t necessarily clear or clearcut. Someone who is extremely codependent isn’t generally identified as an addict – yet that person engages in exceedingly addictive behavior. And that is just one example of how that line might start. Not so much as a clean non-addict to addict, but as a progression of generational transmission of certain behaviors that eventually manifest in overt addiction somewhere along the line.

    There are a whole hell of a lot of other factors involved in this. The comorbidity of other mental illness with addiction is high enough that I would argue it is unlikely that addiction exists very often in a mental health vacuum.*

    I really don’t like coerced sterilization, but I think it is important to do what we can to discourage addicts from reproducing. But while there have been attempts to discourage addicts from reproducing – attempts that have even managed to convince individuals they should not and don’t want to reproduce, they have been failures. In some cases it is just general irresponsibility, in others it is a phenom similar to that of persons with a medicated mental illness who decide they no longer need their meds.

    There may be better ways to deal with this even now. I am certain their will be in the future and if all goes well, I will play some small role in developing those ideas.

    By and by, I worded my comment about a lot of others shouldn’t be reproducing. Though I do believe there are certainly people and even some groups who probably really shouldn’t – some even less than addicts, I was really considering general overpopulation when I said that. I am a big believer in politically making a case for people within our society making the choice to be fixed and help avoid overpopulation – in general, not within a specific population.

    Getting fucking doctors and in some places lawmakers to quit restricting vasectomies to those who are above a certain age or who already have kids, would be a start. I am still very angry about being denied a vasectomy when I was nineteen and again when I was twenty. While it would have denied me my beautiful kids, who likely saved my life, it is disgusting and demeaning to be denied that bit of autonomy – and in my case would have prevented the suffering of two little boys.

    * We don’t include overt dependence without other manifestations of addiction, addiction. There are some psychologists who would argue that we must, but that would mean that anyone who ever experienced a major trauma and developed a dependence to pain killers is an addict. This is, of course, bullshit. Just like someone who was dealing with some emotional trauma who went on a bender with coke or heroin and became dependent – then got clean and never wanted to touch it again, isn’t an addict.

  27. #27 Greg Laden
    October 21, 2010

    I think it would be best to do this with specific clinical conditions as representing the overall problem. Number of people who have spend more than three days in an addiction program more than three times over a period of not less than five years. Or something.

    Although your numbers don’t add up (AtoN and NtoN must = 100%) my gut feeling is that the magnitude is right.

    My point was that for every N to A you stop, you stop a series of A to A’s later, for a long time, because A to N is rare. And, stopping N to A may be easier than stopping A to A. A huge effort to sterilize A’s may sterilize only a few, half those resources spent on avoiding N to A may be more effective.

    But yes, I agree with all your points about the difficulties of defining all of this. I just want to point out that since Reagan was president, systematically facilitating regular drug use by some subsets of the population has been policy. That makes it hard to deal with any drug related issues.

  28. #28 DuWayne
    October 22, 2010

    I think it would be best to do this with specific clinical conditions as representing the overall problem. Number of people who have spend more than three days in an addiction program more than three times over a period of not less than five years. Or something.

    That is a rather significant complication in itself. The reason for the variation is because these figures come from a number of studies that I have actually seen and which were less flawed than would actually call the results into serious question. The problem is that there are several different ways to simply define addiction/substance use disorders. Then there are different ways to qualify the addicts.

    With the exception of a relatively small number of extremely important studies, most addiction stats are taken from people who are or have recently been incarcerated. Many of them use folks who were arrested for illicit substances. This is extremely problematic, because there are a lot of people who are thus classified as being addicts, who most certainly are not – at least by any reasonable metric.

    One study in particular, focused on people who were incarcerated. They were trying to determine what percentage of inmates had a substance use disorder. The problem was, if you were convicted of a drug crime, you qualified.

    Although your numbers don’t add up (AtoN and NtoN must = 100%) my gut feeling is that the magnitude is right.

    There is a lot of ambiguity at the fringes. Is extreme codependency an addiction? Is someone who gets high every day, pretty much all day, but who has a decent quality of life an addict? Is someone who works eighteen hours a day and who never sees their family an addict? There is enough that is questionable to really make it hard to come up with a clean breaking point.

    My point was that for every N to A you stop, you stop a series of A to A’s later, for a long time, because A to N is rare. And, stopping N to A may be easier than stopping A to A.

    The problem is that it really isn’t easier. There are so many variables and potential variables involved in the A to N equation, that it becomes nigh on impossible to deal with. Especially because in many cases, the behaviours involved aren’t necessarily considered entirely negative and may well be considered positive. At the very least, they aren’t behaviours that would seem particularly obvious or even noticeable.

    I will address your last para later, when I have more time.