You can now read 10 articles in a month for free on Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

The Boston Globe


Book Review

‘High Price’ by Carl Hart

An experienced voice rethinks the war on drugs

Though President Nixon launched “The War on Drugs” in 1971, the most aggressive antidrug policies, including harsh mandatory prison sentences for possession of even small amounts of narcotics, were enacted during the Reagan administration. Thirty years later, 20 million Americans (roughly 1 in 15) use illegal drugs regularly. We seem to be losing the war. Some, including Columbia University neuroscientist Carl Hart, think we were fighting the wrong war to begin with.

In “High Price,” Hart argues that drugs are less a cause than a symptom of a broken society. He uses his own life story to illustrate the point that addiction, poverty, and crime are not inevitable consequences of drugs. Rather, he claims, drugs are an attractive diversion for people living in despair. It’s the causes of despair, Hart believes, not the drugs, on which we should be making war.

Loading comments...

You have reached the limit of 10 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week