Let's Get Serious About the War on Drugs

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Much
of the justification for the continued fight against marijuana is
that it tends to lead to harder drugs. However, it's recently been
discovered that law enforcement officials and substance abuse experts
had not looked far enough back to find the root causes of addiction.
We'd like to present the new findings to you in the form of a human-interest
story, about the near-tragic mistakes of one young woman and her
ultimate redemption. We can only hope you'll join with us in the
fight against this newly discovered scourge.

On
the outside, Ann Leland (not her real name) seemed like a normal
16-year-old girl. In her sophomore year at Lakeside High School
(not her real school) in Southern California, she was on the cheerleading
squad and played tennis for the varsity team. Her grade point average
was a 3.6, and her guidance counselor pegged her as someone with
high potential. She attended services at her family's church every
Sunday, and volunteered time at a soup kitchen in the city. Her
relationship with her parents, Diane and Jim Leland (not her real
parents), had its share of the usual teen difficulties, but she
was still close to them.

But
during her junior year, everything changed for the worse. She dropped
out of her extra-curricular activities. Her grades dipped to C's
and D's. She was sullen and withdrawn at family events, and became
more and more secretive. Her mother, Diane Leland, confronted her
several times, but to no avail.

Finally,
early in the morning of June 16th of her junior year, after a graduation
party she attended with some friends, Ann was rushed to the hospital,
overdosing on heroin. She recovered, and spent a month in a clinic
going through withdrawal.

What
had led Ann, who seemed to have everything going for her, into the
world of hard drugs? Police and drug abuse experts are beginning
to suspect a factor which, until now, has been completely overlooked
in the war against drugs – food.

Food
contains hundreds of different chemicals. Some of them are known
toxins, such as the arsenic found in potatoes. Other foods, such
as apples, contain alcohol. Glutamine, valine, leucine and several
other amino acids, which are found in many foods, are capable of
piercing the biological barrier keeping most substances in the
blood from entering the brain. Thus, food can have a direct affect
on mental states. The effect on the body of many of the other chemicals
found in food is still unknown.

Captain
Tom Kernan, head of the LAPD's Drug Abuse Prevention Unit (not really),
explains the growing suspicion among experts that food is a “gateway
substance” that leads to hard drugs:

“Eating
sets a mind frame, that you can ingest things that make you feel
better, that if you don't feel quite right, for instance, if you're
hungry, just eat something and your problems will go away.” Captain
Kernan reaches into his desk (it wasn't actually his per se) and
pulls out a report. He shakes his head as he points at some frightening
graphs. “We've found the correlation between a previous history
of eating and the use of hard drugs is very high, near 100%, in
fact. No other factor previously thought to lead to hard drug usage
has ever shown a correlation that high, not even marijuana use.”

At
first, her parents found it hard to believe that something as innocuous
as food was really the root of Ann's problem. They remembered experimenting
with food as teenagers themselves, and neither of them had gone
on to hard drugs. However, the therapist at the clinic pointed out
to them that food today was much stronger than when they were young.
The combination of vitamin enrichment, better breeding techniques,
and genetic engineering had produced progressively more potent food
products. Gradually, the Lelands realized that the experts were
right. Her mother reflects on Ann's history of food use:

“At
first it was just milk. What could be wrong with a little milk now
and then? But gradually she moved on to other food – rice cereal,
pureed bananas, mashed peas. By the time she was one, she had started
on solid foods.”

Among
chronic eaters, the continued bombardment of the brain cells by
amino acids may lead to a tolerance for food. To achieve the feeling
of contentment they refer to as “full,” users may need to consume
increasing amounts of food.

Diane
Leland continued: “Gradually, she worked her way up to chocolate
and cola. We told ourselves that a lot of kids eat this stuff, and
don't go on to anything harder. During her freshman year in high
school, she was at a restaurant with some older kids. One of them,
a handsome junior who was on the football team, offered Ann some
pasta in a white-wine-and-garlic sauce. At first she was reluctant
to accept. But he kept pressuring her. Finally, she took a bite.
She liked it so much she immediately asked for more. Soon she was
eating peaches cooked in brandy, onion rings in beer batter, mussels
in sherry. We told her that we didn't approve, and tried to get
her counseling, but nothing helped.”

About
this time, Ann's diary (not her real diary) recorded her increasing
depression about her use of food: “Food is a scum-filled pond in
which I'm drowning.” Her use of food was now daily. She ate in the
bathroom. She ate in the car on the way to school. First thing in
the morning, she would have a bowl of cereal, “just to help her
get going.” Late at night, she would stand in front of the open
refrigerator with a glassy look in her eyes. Her mother began to
notice crumbs in her bedding and Ding Dong wrappers hastily tucked
away in her underwear drawer.

Experts
from the Center
for Science as a Public Nuisance
recommend intravenous feeding
as an alternative to food consumption. Intravenous tubes attached
to a plastic bag worn comfortably around the waist can supply all
necessary calories and vitamins. Nutrition taken in this fashion
comes in measured doses, and avoids the sudden rushes that occur
when large amounts of nutrients cross the blood-brain barrier at
once. And since intravenous feeding never allows hunger to develop,
it avoids reinforcing consumptive patterns of behavior.

Finally,
after her overdose, her parents were able to convince Ann that she
had a problem. After her month at the clinic, her parents took her
to stay in Florida for a couple of months, away from her food-abusing
“friends.” She straightened out, and since then, she's been food
and drug free.

Ann
still bears the scars of what she now refers to as her “days lost
in the pantry.” She points to stretch marks on her stomach that
may never fade. And she says that passing an ice cream parlor is
still an ordeal. But she is in her sophomore year at UCLA, maintaining
a 3.4 average (not her real GPA), and again playing tennis. “I almost
saw everything go up in a cloud of steam from a pressure cooker.
Now I just take it one day at a time.”

Incredibly
there are otherwise intelligent people out there that believe food
in moderate amounts can be “beneficial” or “healthful,” and that
Americans should be free to consume food if they wish to. They wield
semantic tokens like “natural” and “fresh” as some sort of fetishes,
shielding them from mortality and alleviating the stresses of everyday
life. But they are only fooling themselves. There will always be
another Ann, caught in an endless, entropy-fighting cycle of caloric
intake and energy expenditure, until, one day, she “scarfs” her
final “petite déjeuner.”

September
6, 2000

Gene
Callahan is a regular contributor to mises.org,
and Stu Morgenstern is contributing editor at The
Frumious Bandersnatch.

2000, Stu Morgenstern
and Gene Callahan

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