I also learned that scientists, having unveiled the role of the insula in translating drug-induced sensations into pleasure, are practically tripping over themselves trying to find ways to deactivate this part of the brain, possibly through magnetic stimulation or, alternatively, by pharmaceutical means. Just turn off the pleasure switch and the drugs disappear.
Somewhere in the midst of all this reading, it began to occur to me that the drug experiences I have had in my life may not be as common as I think they are, and that this would explain a whole hell of a lot. But that’s a story for another day.
For now, I want to talk about this extraordinary column by Heather Mallick, which is ostensibly about the Robert Pickton trial but is really about drugs. Mallick begins with a bold statement about the occupation of the murdered women: that prostitution is a side-effect of drug addiction. From there, she discusses middle-class alcoholism, the novels of Edward St. Aubyn, and the parallels between addicts and refugees, before concluding with these remarks:
To think that women died because they didn't have the drug their body and soul demanded, and they were unfortunate enough that the drug wasn't liquor, which they could buy at the corner store.
Why the hell aren't we making all drugs available to all adults? Yes, we'd have another mess on our hands, but it would be a better mess than women's heads sliced in half and left in buckets. It would instantly drain the power of violent criminals. Yes, prostitutes need protection. But perhaps we could make it unnecessary for them to climb into a car and ride into the fetid, bloody pit of death that we will peer into during this trial.
All this for a little heroin, a little cocaine, a willingness to admit that people's bodies and brains need what they need. All these things these women, The Desperates, didn't get from us because they were lumped into an undesirable group of people who need something so desperately they would go anywhere to get it.
Yes, I'd say that's about right. Wouldn't you?