Letter To Schools About PRIDE Anti-Drug Program
January 13, 2001
William H. Johnson, Ed.D.
Superintendent of Schools
128 Shephard Street
Rockville Centre, NY 11570
Dear Dr. Johnson:
I just received your letter to parents about the PRIDE meeting
on the 25th. I am an alumnus of Rockville Centre schools
as well as a parent of a student who currently attends Rockville
Centre schools. As a physician, recovering addict, and addiction
theorist/activist, I am deeply concerned about the paradoxical
negative impact the PRIDE program has on students, society, and
To be sure, this negative impact is not caused by any lack of
desire or will on your part to help, but, instead, by the paradoxical
effects the incorrect understanding of the origin of drug use
and addictions among students and all people has on the outcomes
of this kind of program. The lack of correct understanding of
the cause of addictions results in perpetuation and exacerbation
of the problems rather than solutions to them.
Bottom line: The PRIDE program is based on a moralistic and
control paradigm at least 100 years old that is incorrect scientifically
and ineffective practically. If this weren't true we wouldn't
currently be as impotent against drug addiction as we are. These
kinds of moralistic, stigmatizing, and fear inducing "education
and prevention" programs not only don't reduce addictions
of all kinds, but force underground the people who will inevitably
use and get addicted to drugs and other things where they are
deeply injured and, additionally, will inevitably cause the social
harms they desperately don't want to commit. Thus, the paradoxical
negative effects of PRIDE programs and programs like it.
Instead of educating students, parents, and society on the actual
science-based neurobiology of addictions and the helpful policies
that should be derived from it, PRIDE programs teach an incorrect
addiction paradigm that result in policies both ineffective and
harmful. This is caused by the current misunderstanding of why
people use drugs and why certain people inevitably get addicted.
In this respect, addiction is no different from Diabetes, many
cancers, and most other science based medical diseases not caused
by the victim's consciousness. This last sentence is the crux
of the misunderstanding of addictions - "not caused by the
victim's consciousness." Another way to say the same thing
is, "Against the will of the victim."
I'm certain you wouldn't blame the victims of Diabetes and cancer
for causing their disease and wouldn't have "education and
prevention" programs designed around their conscious causation
either. Can you picture a judge, policeman, social worker, and
therapist telling an audience not to get cancer or Diabetes and
that if they do they will be prosecuted? In fact, if you did,
the victims of these diseases would nonetheless succumb to these
diseases and would have to go underground and suffer just as the
future addicts of today do under programs like PRIDE. PRIDE programs
make no sense for Diabetes, cancer, or any other medical disease,
and they make no sense for addictions, symptoms of a medical disease.
Why? Because none are caused by conscious decisions or choice.
I realize this last statement goes against everything you believe
about addictions, but as I said in the beginning of this letter,
what you believe you know about addictions is wrong even though
it seems so intuitively right. The current
addiction paradigm has been wrong for 100 years and will continue
to be wrong indefinitely. When the paradigm is wrong, the treatment
and policies derived from it are wrong. They don't work to produce
the effects we want from them and they paradoxically perpetuate
rather than solve the problem they were designed to solve. This
is the case with DARE and it is the case with PRIDE and is the
case for the drug war and all policies and programs based on the
incorrect drug use and addiction paradigm. These programs not
only don't do what we say we want them to do but they make the
problem worse, as they must. To reiterate: WHEN THE PARADIGM IS
WRONG, THE TREATMENTS AND POLICIES BASED ON IT ARE WRONG. These
policies hurt our kids rather than help them. I know this all
goes against your opinions and intuition, but reputable people
like yourself once believed the sun revolved around the earth,
the earth was flat, infections were caused by miasma, and other
dead paradigms. The current addiction paradigm based on conscious
decision and choice is just as intuitive and just as dead. It
just doesn't realize it yet.
So, if PRIDE makes things worse, and if we don't want things to
continue to get worse, what then is the alternative?
Let's teach the real and actual neurobiological paradigm of addictions
and see if this, as it should, leads to diminution of the harm
caused by addictions. This is what we want, right? As with other
real diseases, the teaching of the actual pathophysiology of the
disease leads not only to destigmatization of the disease and
its victims, a good thing, and the resultant earlier entry into
recovery from the disease, a good thing, but also, by this route,
to less severe complications caused by the disease, again, a good
thing. In doing so, we are not condoning addiction any more than
we condone cancer or Diabetes. We don't want or like cancer, addictions,
or Diabetes, but due to our understanding of their causes at this
time, we know they occur, that we can't prevent them through our
collective will, but we can help their victims deal appropriately
with them as soon as is heavenly possible, just the opposite result
if these diseases are stigmatized and their victims blamed and
ostracized, the only thing PRIDE accomplishes.
The following is what I suggest if you are truly interested in
helping students and society with addictions. Let's stop the moralizing,
stigmatizing, ostracizing, and scientifically incorrectly based
PRIDE program, and start teaching students, teachers, and the
public about the actual neurobiology behind addictions and see
if this, as it should and will, leads to the positive changes
we all want to have come about for addictions. I would be happy
and thrilled to volunteer to teach to your school system the most
up to date and complete science based addiction paradigm that
will lead to the results you all want.
Please let me know if you are interested in my help.
Dan F. Umanoff, M.D.