The Real Truth About Drugs and Society
Neuroscientist Carl Hart PhD, tells the real truth about drugs and their effects on society.
Neuroscientist Carl Hart PhD, grew up on the impoverished streets of Miami, engaging in petty crimes and drug use in his youth. After high school, he joined the United States Air Force which allowed him a chance at a higher education. In 1998 he became the first tenured African-American professor in the sciences at Columbia University – a long way from the youth he was on the streets of Miami.
With his long dreadlocks and easy way of speaking, Dr. Hart has become not only a scientist, but an activator and educator as well, doing his best to spread the truth about drugs and addiction across America and the world.
“Drug Addiction wasn’t the Problem. The Problem was Law Enforcement.”
Growing up in Miami in the 70’s and 80’s, Hart says that cocaine was everywhere. First it was powder cocaine, but that slowly turned into crack cocaine. Coming back to Miami after serving in the Air Force, he could see that cocaine was ruining his community – according to Hart, 60 to 70 percent of the guys his age were getting arrested for drug-related charges.
When Hart had an opportunity to study the effects of drugs at the University, he gladly accepted – thinking, he says in an interview for Columbia University, “Maybe this is the key. Maybe I could figure out why people like drugs so much. And then maybe I’ll be able to help do something back home. I thought I was going to be able to cure drug addiction.”
However, as Hart began his research – first on rats and then on humans – he realised that the truth about drugs and addiction stemmed a lot further away from the drugs than he had thought. The problem, he had begun to realise, was law enforcement.
The Truth about Drugs: The Effects of Harsh Penalties on Drug Crimes
Hart believes that during the ‘war on drugs’, a false representation of these drugs has been made into the “reality”, caused mainly by well-known drug campaigns such as “Don’t Do Drugs” and “This is your brain on drugs” (with a picture of a broken egg in a frying pan). Hart believes that educating the public about the real effects of drugs is the only way to go in the future – that, and legalizing them.<
According to Hart, the only things that come from harsh penalties for drug crimes and possession are ruined lives, seasoned criminals, and addicts who don’t know where to get help. He is not shy to remind folks that President Obama once used illegal drugs – and should he have been caught with those on his person at any time – he would have been sent to jail, lost years of his life in a violent place, and likely never would have made it to become President. Hart fully believes that pulling your life together again after prison is difficult for everyone, and impossible for some. Further, he notes that exaggerating the effects of drugs and giving them such a negative stigma means that many of those who need help with a drug problem won’t seek help out of fear of being ostracized.
In his recent TedMed2014 talk, Hart speaks the truth about drugs, their effects, and how society in general should react to drugs going forward, and the stereotypes and stigmas that surround not only the drug users, but the drugs themselves. The full video can be viewed here.
If you or someone you know is suffering from addiction, contact a professional.