Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari

Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari
Published January 20, 2015
Summary on Goodreads
Buy on Amazon

The main reason why I picked up this book was for my NYPL Read Harder Challenge (which I might end up failing because I was too busy reading other books LOL); however, I’m really glad that I did.  This book is completely out of my comfort zone mainly because I almost never read nonfiction.  I’m sure if you click on the “nonfiction” label on my blog, very few books will show up on there.  Not to mention, it was science-y which is definitely not a subject I particularly enjoy.  However, the drug war was a surprisingly very interesting topic and I found myself really immersed in the content.

I was also pleasantly surprised to find that this book was in a narrative form with stories and recounts from multiple people rather than your typical nonfiction that I usually can’t stand.  It still took me slightly longer to finish though mainly because there was just so much content and depth to what I was reading.  It definitely wasn’t something I could easily skim through.
The only thing I can really say without giving any of the context away is the fact that this book has certainly made me reconsider my own outlook on drugs.  Admittedly, the only drug I’d ever used was marijuana and even then, it was very, very rare.  I can easily count how many times I either ingested it or inhaled it on one hand.  However, I just didn’t like how it made me feel which is why I always refused when offered.  Not to mention, when I was applying for drugs, some of the interview process included a drug test and I would’ve failed if I had taken drugs on a regular basis. 

However, even though I myself had used marijuana in the past, it still held a negative connotation in my mind.  It was something that I perceived as college students or even high school students trying things out which I’m all for.  I mean, isn’t that what college is for?  Trying new things and finding what you enjoy?  At the same time though, if you had already graduated and was a working professional, I looked down upon those who were still smoking weed or doing any other recreational drugs on a regular basis.  It made me think of them as lazy or whatnot.  Though, at the same time, I can definitely think of a few friends at the top of my head who still smoke weed but on an occasional basis.  So there’s definitely a fine line between using drugs too often versus using it occasionally and me perceiving them as lazy or not.  But this book definitely made me rethink a lot more on the concept of drugs and how dangerous they really are in comparison to alcohol (which I drink way too often – I love my wine). 

I know I’m mostly mentioning weed but that’s only because that’s the drug I’d ever really experienced with.  I’m not too sure about the other ones like cocaine or ecstasy or whatever but I still had a connotation on drugs in general and it was definitely still negative.  I can’t say that the book has completely changed my outlook on drugs; however, I can definitely say that it is making me think a lot more on the drug war and reconsider its outcomes.  The one thing that surprised me was the fact that Portugal completely legalized drugs and crime rates have gone way down and it seems that all of the aftermath have been relatively positive.  And I’m actually heading to Portugal at the end of next month so it’ll be interesting to see if I encounter anything that can be related to the drug war (or lack thereof) over there.

Overall, I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for a book where you can think a lot and process/digest.  Or if you are intimately involved with the drug war yourself, I think that this book can bring a lot of positive insight as well.


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