Recovery and the ‘Nanny State’ – A note to the ‘right to recreational drug use’ lobby!
When elements of a society (most always from the ‘grown-ups’) say, “I don’t want a nanny state, with laws and regulations keeping me from doing what I want”, then ‘movements’ emerge seeking to mandate the removal of prohibitions and preventions on that risky edge. Of course, this is no more apparent than with the vociferous minority seeking to normalize illicit drug use in our culture.
Of course, the lesser protections there are in place, the greater the incidences of harm will follow, and invariably for the most vulnerable – our young.
Besides the utter disregard for ‘others’, what is not only incongruent, but breath-takingly hypocritical, is that this decrying of the ‘Nanny State’ interference only works one way for the societal saboteur!
At the commencement of their campaigns, these egocentric self-indulgers demand to be left alone to do what they want but seem to have no repulsion in lining up quickly for free health care, welfare benefits and tax-payer funded reparations when their hedonism eventually fails them.
So, if we are to stop being a Nanny State, then that must work at every level and in all directions, right? Let us permit all drug use, but also permit that only the user pays for both the harm to themselves and others, and without any burden or impost on society they chose to carelessly ignore!
Even the oft quoted anti-nanny state libertarian and 19th Century social commentator, John Stuart Mills insists some lines be drawn in society, and when it comes to drug use, his following statements couldn’t be more relevant or poignant.
“No person is an entirely isolated being; it is impossible for a person to do anything seriously or permanently hurtful to himself without mischief reaching at least to his near connections, and often far beyond them.” And, “If he deteriorates his bodily or mental faculties, he not only brings evil upon all who depended upon him for any portion of their happiness, but disqualifies himself for rendering the services which he owes to his fellow creatures generally, perhaps becomes a burden on their affection or benevolence; and if such conduct were very frequent hardly any offense that is committed would detract more from the general sum of good.
And even (it will be added) if the consequences of misconduct could be confined to the vicious or thoughtless individual, ought society to abandon to their own guidance those who are manifestly unfit for it? If protection against themselves is confessedly due to children and persons under age, is not society equally bound to afford it to persons of mature years who are equally incapable of self-government? If gambling, or drunkenness [we would add drug use, of course]… are as injurious to happiness, and as great a hindrance to improvement, as many or most of the acts prohibited by law, why (it may be asked) should not law, so far as is consistent with practicability and social convenience, endeavor to repress these also? …There is no question here (it may be said) about restricting individuality or impeding the trial of new and original experiments in living. The only things it is sought to prevent are things which have been tried and condemned from the beginning of the world until now; things which experience has shown not to be useful or suitable to any person’s individuality. There must be some length of time and amount of experience, after which a moral or prudential truth may be regarded as established, and it is merely desired to prevent generation after generation from falling over the same precipice which has been fatal to their predecessors.”1
Of course, not all current drug users are of this epicurean ilk, and many are trapped in the tyranny of addiction and need support, care and empowerment to recover. However, make no mistake, the current lobby is all about engagement with illicit drugs for anything but trauma alleviation!
Drug use exiting recovery is best practice for the well-being and restoration of those currently living with the consequences of decisions to enter the world of drug use – motivators/invitations from everything from uninvited trauma, to the careless and reckless decisions ‘to smash as many drugs as I can and party hard!’. This Recovery Month we encourage all in such situations to seek out and at least commence that journey to drug use exiting recovery.
However, the adage remains irrevocably true – “Prevention is ALWAYS better than cure!” When it comes to illicit drug use, and the misuse of the legal and most damaging drug, Alcohol, please think not only of yourself, but of those nearest to you. The life you enrich may not just be your own!
L’chaim – To life, not instead of it!
Shane Varcoe – The Dalgarno Institute.
- Mill J.S. (1859) On Liberty London: Parker & Son, West Strand Ch 4 Of the limits to the authority of society over the individual: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/m/mill/john_stuart/m645o/contents.html