Chasing the Scream

Chasing the Scream

The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs

Book - 2015
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The New York Times Bestseller

What if everything you think you know about addiction is wrong? Johann Hari's journey into the heart of the war on drugs led him to ask this question--and to write the book that gave rise to his viral TED talk, viewed more than 62 million times, and inspired the feature film The United States vs. Billie Holiday and the documentary series The Fix .

One of Johann Hari's earliest memories is of trying to wake up one of his relatives and not being able to. As he grew older, he realized he had addiction in his family. Confused, not knowing what to do, he set out and traveled over 30,000 miles over three years to discover what really causes addiction--and what really solves it.

He uncovered a range of remarkable human stories--of how the war on drugs began with Billie Holiday, the great jazz singer, being stalked and killed by a racist policeman; of the scientist who discovered the surprising key to addiction; and of the countries that ended their own war on drugs--with extraordinary results.

Chasing the Scream is the story of a life-changing journey that transformed the addiction debate internationally--and showed the world that the opposite of addiction is connection.

Publisher: New York : Bloomsbury USA, 2015.
Edition: First U.S. edition.
ISBN: 9781620408902
Characteristics: 389 pages


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Feb 24, 2020

nicolle recommended

Jan 15, 2019

This is undoubtedly the best book I've ever read about the war on drugs, which you'll find from the evidence in this book, has been an absolute disaster. It also conceptualizes possible paths forward based on things that have worked in Switzerland, Portugal, Uruguay, and parts of the US. Highly recommend this book for everyone.

Sep 01, 2017

Chasing the Scream is a wonderful take on the history and current state of affairs on addiction. It gives a completely different take on the method of recovery our society holds as the tried and true method. It emphasizes community and support groups. It also shows how neglectful our nation and other nations have been regarding the recovery of addicts. While it makes many great points, it reminded me of how helpless addicts are when it comes to genuine care and recognition of the disease aspect of addiction. Our government, our established organizations and facilities for recovery (AA, Rehab Clinics, etc..), and our social institutions like churches and support groups have a long way to go to create the idealistic way of life Chasing the Scream shows as a possibility for change. There are so many hurdles an addict must go through just to be accepted in everyday society. If someone is willing to take the gauntlet and run with it through passing legislation and encouraging treatment centers to implement new systems, we may see some progress this book promotes. But the pessimist in me doubts that we will see any improvement in the way addicts in our country are treated. There are too many entities who benefit from the shaming and punishment of addicts to anticipate any meaningful change.

Jun 02, 2017

Oh - this book! I feel like an elephant is standing on my heart... still - there's some hope that we might become human again and drop this nonsensical "war". Wonderful writing, engaging, forthright and compassionate and he's diligent about revealing/explaining his sources and such. High praise goes to Mr. Hari.

bickjd Feb 06, 2016

This book flips mainstream (made in America) assumptions on drug addiction, drug addicts, prohibition, and criminal justice on their heads. It is a gripping exploration into the history of the "War on Drugs", and the contemporary consequences.

Hari offers better, more humane, rational, and effective policy options. He supports these policy recommendations with solutions that are working today in several different countries. His opinions are backed by up-to-date scientific research and advice from an impressive collection of leading experts and advocates.

"Chasing the Scream" is eye-opening storytelling at it best. A globetrotting journey for the truth, brimming with heroes and heroines. (get it)

Jul 21, 2015

A very passionate history and analysis, based primarily on source interviews and the Harry Anslinger archives. Covers a surprising narrative of the early "war on drugs", continuing up to the present day. Chapters of analysis examine situations and countries where addiction and sometimes the drugs themselves were decriminalized. Some insightful thoughts into how dealing with marijuana is different than crack or meth. A brief chapter near the end covers the two different campaigns (Colorado and Washington) for legalization of marijuana.

The core of the book is the authors insight that most of addiction is emotional, and largely resulting from childhood trauma. Chemical addiction is only a small percentage, which is contrary to everything we were brought up with.

I found the book well researched and collected, even if much of the message is not news. The writing was a little difficult to follow, especially the first few chapters where the stories of various individuals were relayed. The early history was quite interesting, and at first seemed unbelievable.

Recommended eye opener for anyone who hasn't really thought about the full effects of drugs (and criminalization) on our society.

kurasawa1 Jul 04, 2015

Really important information - well thought out and clear

May 15, 2015

An incredible read-- extremely informative and very human. Hari writes a people's history of the war on drugs, telling the stories of addicts, empty-hearted, narcissistic government officials, law enforcement officers, dealers, and family members of those disappeared by the cartels.

If you're interested in this subject Dr. Carl Hart's "High Price" and Michelle Alexander's "The New Jim Crow" are great reads too.

PS: Noam Chomsky said he couldn't put this book down... NOAM CHOMSKY.

Apr 12, 2015

A detailed and fascinating alternative option to the "War on Drugs" policy enforced by the USA 50 Years ago and that is clearly not working. He lays out and highlights situations, experiences and outcomes of the causes of addiction, treatment and explodes some myths along the way. Very extensively referenced and he outlines just how he got his facts, undertook research and collated it all into an easy to read academic work.

Feb 07, 2015

Haven't read this book yet but heard the author in a book interview on Amy Goodman's Democracy Now! show [] - - really powerful stuff! One sentence he said stands out: /// Addiction is an adaptation to one's environment.\\\

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