Of course, they do. That is why people keep taking them. Happiness is what we are all after, and drugs are a sure short cut to happiness. However since use of drugs leads to much harm, we need to control drug use.

This seems to be the thinking in the minds of many activists and thinkers involved in drug prevention in today’s world. Many of them are highly respected professionals, such as sociologists, psychiatrists and psychologists. Sometimes they state this kind of thinking in clear words, written or spoken. At other times their behavior and their apparently-non-related comments give away their way of thinking. For an example, let us consider a hypothetical NGO running a drug prevention campaign targeting youth. They call it “Alternative ways to have fun”, which indirectly indicates that this particular NGO believes drugs are one way of having fun.

Now, if we ask the crucial question, “why do you believe that drugs give happiness?”, we face quite an embarrassing situation. Many people can’t give a clear answer. If you don’t believe me, try asking this question from few of your friends. Paradoxically, the more professional scientific persons seem to be the most ignorant kind in this case.

I once tried this with a fellow psychiatrist. And the conversation went on like this:

Me:

Why do you believe that drugs give happiness and euphoria?

 

Psychiatrist: 

There is enough evidence to prove that, Mahesh. Stop arguing about basic facts in science, you are a psychiatrist!

 

Me:

Okay. Now tell me why you believe that antipsychotics[1] reduce psychotic symptoms?

 

Psychiatrist [smiles]:

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of RCTs[2] to prove that. And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of review articles summarizing all these RCTs. You are questioning another basic fact in science. Are you feeling alright?

 

Me:

I feel okay, thanks. Now, why do you believe that drugs give happiness and euphoria? Is there a single RCT to prove that? And how many review articles are written on such RCTs?

 

Psychiatrist [smile suddenly disappears]:

Well, no…. I think I left my keys in the room, give me a second.

 

As I contentedly watched his hurried departure, I concluded:

Belief that drugs induce euphoria is an armchair theory, and we need to question that belief scientifically. For many, science encourages them to think scientifically only in selected situations.

Footnotes:

[1] Antipsychotics are drugs used in psychotic, i.e. schizophrenia-like, illnesses.

[2] RCTs, randomised clinical trials, studies with the most rigorous standards, are considered the best way to assess efficacy of treatment methods.