This weekend, we lost another celebrity to drugs. Philip Seymour Hoffman, a brilliant actor, OD’d on heroine. He left three kids behind.
As you know, I am vehemently opposed to the War on Drugs. But this does not mean I approve of them. It means I think that the “cure” isn’t a cure at all and, to the extent that it is, is worse than the disease.
But drugs can be vile things. Nicotine addiction destroys hearts and lungs and leaves everything smelling awful. Alcohol is good in moderation, but we have tens of millions of problem drinkers who, among other things, kill thousands of innocent people on our roads. Pot, which I’ve never used, seems OK in moderation but I do know people who’ve spent years just sitting on their couch, just working long enough to get the next joint.
But it’s at the hard stuff where my libertarianism falters. Meth, coke, crack, heroine — these are simply awful things. It’s true that most people who try them won’t get addicted. But many do. And some end up like Hoffman, dead on the floor of a hotel room, decades of potential snuffed out and grieving families left behind. Heroine is particularly dangerous in this because the purity of it can vary, leading to accidental overdoses (it’s thought that Janis Joplin died because the heroine she was using was purer than she was used to).
Hard drugs are not unique in their lethality. People die of alcohol poisoning; one of my best friends was nearly carried off by it. And combinations of prescription and over-the-counter drugs have addicted many and killed people like Brittany Murphy and Heath Ledger.
In the end, however, the problem of drugs — legal and illegal — is a social problem and a medical problem. Throwing cops and judges into this does not save people’s lives; it only creates a massive industry of jails, asset forfeiture and no-knock raids.
But opposing the awful machine of the War on Drugs doesn’t mean we can’t be angered at the stupidity of it all when a young and talented person dies because of the vile trash that is heroin.