Two Misconceptions about Drugs

Erasmo Calzadilla

Transparencies. Foto: Caridad

I have returned to being addicted to drugs; that’s to say, talking about them.  I’m always looking for reasons to readdress the topic, and now I’ve found two – a couple of visions of that I consider erred with regard to this issue.  One I found in the civic education textbook for the course taught here in Cuba at the secondary level; the other one came from a comment about my diary entry in Havana Times.


Browsing through my niece’s textbooks, one day I found the book that they gave her at her junior high school.  I began to look through it out of curiosity because during my student days there didn’t exist a similar area of subject.

It’s a very interesting textbook that tries to prepare adolescents for adult life, its problems and responsibilities.  It also touches on the issue of human rights, (which is surprising given that until very recently, even mentioning that word here on the “farm” was a delicate matter).

The book is written with a basically moralistic tone, and it is as blind to the errors of the Cuban political system as it is fervent about pointing to such failings abroad.  Nevertheless, I consider the book a first step worthy of praise.

Or perhaps I should say that it’s commendable up until it deals with the question of drugs, though I find it good that it attempts to tackle that issue.  However, it reproduces the lies that are ordinarily present in official discourse concerning these substances.  For example, the sole distinction it makes is between drugs that don’t affect one’s behavior, such as coffee and tobacco, and those that do – all others.

The consumption of these latter ones, says the text, “…enslaves people, ruins their health, destroys families; generates extreme violence as well as murder, suicide, organized crime; and generally destabilizes society.”

This is false; not all drugs produce these calamities.  There exists a group that stimulates consciousness and love (biological genera containing psilocybin mushrooms, the peyote cactus, the virgin seed morning glory plant, LSD, and others: in short, entheogens).  Notwithstanding, their other effect is to the contrary, though there are also the intermediates between these extremes.

Consumed responsibly, entheogens are generally innocuous and do not produce dependence since coming to awareness is often harrowing.  This does not mean that no risks are involved, but they are minimal in relation to the benefits that are offered.

The anonymous authors of this nonsense have been sufficiently honest to say that “since ancient civilizations humans have incorporated the use of different drugs in their social systems.”  Nonetheless, they lack the courage to conclude that is not consumption in itself that generates such disasters, but consumption that is irresponsible and uninformed.


In a previous diary entry, which was also about drugs, a person commented about the official position: “To begin with, it doesn’t make distinction between chemically processed drugs and natural plants that increase consciousness, because while the former ones can have harmful physical effects, the second type doesn’t.  While hard drugs were created by the system itself in its search for new mechanisms of dominance, psychotropic plants that come from nature have been of tremendous support to human beings throughout history.”

I agree that certain substances can increase consciousness if they are dealt with appropriately, while others make people sleepy, but I disagree with all the rest.  Not all “natural” drugs increase consciousness, nor is chemical processing realized by people something negative per se.

Not all drugs (I don’t know if some) obtained artificially have been “created by the system in search of mechanisms of dominance.”  Such generalizations could confuse those who wander down this dangerous path.

3 thoughts on “Two Misconceptions about Drugs

  • as an every day user of pot i have some very strong opinions drug use. i am full fledged believer in marijuana for medicinal AND recreation. the stigma against it is pathetic and child like. i do how ever believe that youngsters should steer clear of it until adult hood is reached as well as learning how to balance everyday responsibilities that come with being an adult. so while i applaud the medical grass movement here in these united states, i think that getting a doctors permission is irrelevent as well. i am an adult and i need no ones permission.
    i have tried and sometimes enjoyed every other drug known to man but i would advise against them, as they do decay individuals as well as society. but its a simple matter of personal liberty. no matter how harmful the substance, government should have no say in what i choose to put in my body. period. that being said, i will not touch anything again for the remainder of my life, besides marijuana, which i enjoy everyday. gods gift to the workin man.

    the fact that so called progressive cuba still has a backwards and authoritarian attitude on this subject is sad and pathetic

  • In the U.S. the legal drug industry is massive. Big Pharma collaborates with the for-profit medical system to habituate us to all sorts of pills, while holistic methods of healthcare are de-emphasized.

    Our society is saturated with such drug ads in the mass media. It is often found out later that the drugs that were advertised and prescribed by doctors cause catastrophic physical damage. The people are used as animals fit for experimentation in the pursuit of money.

    Drugs in capitalist society are a way of enslaving people for profits. This is true whether they are legal or illegal. This is not the whole story of course, but it’s a big part of it.

    Likewise, the so-called War on Drugs is a for-profit industry, and a cover for imperialist military action.

    Bottom line: Drugs should be seen and written about in their present social context, and the present social context isn’t good.

  • Wife and I attended a series of workshops just before our two daughters entered adolescence; we found the same sort of oversimplifications and misinformation as presented by your niece’s textbook. It is not easy to explain this subject. Generally, the Golden Mean is the best policy, although, as Oscar Wilde was once purported to have said, “You never know you have had enough until you have had MORE THAN ENOUGH!” On the other hand, I have seen so many lives destroyed by either alcohol or “illegal” drugs, but I suspect there is little to be done in such cases if the user doesn’t recognize that the substance is controlling him or her, rather than vice-versa. In short, as you say, mind-altering substances have been with us since the beginning of society, and will be with us until its end. Especially within the heartless society of capitalism, where there are a few winners and many loosers, drugs and alcohol offers a certain consolation for the latter.

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