Bestselling Author of Chasing the Scream
“Superb journalism and thrilling story-telling.”—Naomi Klein, author of No Logo
“Wonderful… I couldn’t put it down.”—Noam Chomsky
Johann Hari is the author of The New York Times bestselling book Chasing the Scream, the product of his four-year, 12-country, 30,000-mile journey into the war on drugs. Called “breathtaking” by The Guardian, “gripping” by The Financial Times, and “riveting” by the San Francisco Chronicle, Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs explores three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens. Hari’s viral TED Talk, based on the book, is a funny, fascinating, and stirring look at the ways in which we turn to addiction as a response to conditions of isolation and disengagement in our lives.
Hari has written for many of the world’s leading newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Le Monde, The Guardian, the Los Angeles Times, The New Republic, The Nation, Slate, El Mundo, and The Sydney Morning Herald. He was a lead op-ed columnist for The Independent, one of Britain’s leading newspapers, for nine years.
Rethinking Addiction: Social Recovery in the Age of Loneliness
For Johann Hari, drugs have always been personal. One of his earliest memories is of being unable to wake a relative. Since then, he’s watched loved ones struggle with addiction, all the while believing in the basic story about drugs and dependency echoed by our teachers and governments. That is, until he set out to find his own answers. Embarking upon a 30,000-mile, 12-country journey to really understand the war on drugs, Hari uncovered a much different narrative—that everything we’ve been told about addiction for the past 100 years is wrong.
As Hari learned, emerging science proves that addiction isn’t actually caused by drugs, but by conditions of social isolation and pain. Addiction isn’t the result of a moral failing or depravity, or the inevitable result of a chemical dependency, but a product of our social environments. This means we need to pursue a radically different approach to addicts, abandoning conventional cycles of shame, stigma, and incarceration, and instead adopting greater capacities of compassion. “So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety,” Hari writes. “It is human connection.”
In this talk, Hari discusses the landmark studies that demonstrate the connections between addiction and environment. He investigates the countries that have witnessed incredible success by accepting these findings: plummeting rates of drug use, addiction, violent crime, overdoses, and more. And he issues a call to treat the addicts in our lives much differently, changing both our politics and our hearts. Combining the best social science with vividly human anecdotes, this is a transformative talk about what it means to be addicted, and what it means to recover.
The War on Drugs: The True Causes and Consequences of a Moral Injustice
While writing the bestselling book Chasing the Scream, Johann Hari discovered that the drug war has very different motives and results than those described by our businesses and governments. Not only has strictly enforced prohibition claimed countless victims to incarceration, poverty, and murder around the world, but it’s actually led to more addicted users—the opposite of its touted purpose.
In this keynote, Hari traces the development of a global moral injustice, highlighting the previously untold story of how Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the founder of the war—and what this tells us about what’s motivated it ever since. He relates the stirring testimonies of people whose lives have been transformed by ill-conceived policies, and the doctors and activists resolutely trying to change them. And he talks, with inspiring examples, on the alternative policies that show a clear way forward.
From the killing fields of northern Mexico, home of some of the world’s most dangerous cartels, to the teeming US prison system, to nations like Portugal that choose to pursue innovative solutions, this keynote condenses Hari’s years of deep reporting into a riveting talk on the war on drugs: its human and economic tolls, and its compassionate, economically sound solutions.
Drugs & Big Pharma: Health Care Companies and the War on Drugs
Pharmaceutical and health care companies are often blamed for our prescription drug crisis, and for perpetuating the global addiction epidemic. But this isn’t true. Big Pharma was actually an early champion of the international drug war, since profits made on illegal drugs all go to cartels, rather than doctors and medical companies. Now, these same organizations are realizing the inefficiency of prohibition, and realize that big money can be made from something as innocuous as marijuana. Today’s drug-war backers are powerful groups like prison guard unions, private prisons, evangelical Christians, and alcohol companies, who realize how much they have to lose should drugs become regulated.
Throughout this talk, geared primarily to pharmaceutical and health care companies, Hari touches on new ways to radically reduce addiction, including surprising research into how psychedelics and hallucinogens can help with quitting even the most addictive substances. He explores why drugs themselves aren’t the core of the problem, and how certain forward-thinking nations have transformed or eradicated crime, addiction, homelessness, incarceration, social isolation, and much more through adopting these new ideas.
Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs
New York Times Bestseller
For the first time, the startling full story of the disastrous war on drugs—propelled by moving human stories, revolutionary insight into addiction, and fearless international reporting.
It is now one hundred years since drugs were first banned in the United States. On the eve of this centenary, journalist Johann Hari set off on an epic three-year, thirty-thousand-mile journey into the war on drugs. What he found is that more and more people all over the world have begun to recognize three startling truths: Drugs are not what we think they are. Addiction is not what we think it is. And the drug war has very different motives to the ones we have seen on our TV screens for so long.
In Chasing the Scream, Hari reveals his discoveries entirely through the stories of people across the world whose lives have been transformed by this war. They range from a transsexual crack dealer in Brooklyn searching for her mother, to a teenage hitman in Mexico searching for a way out. It begins with Hari’s discovery that at the birth of the drug war, Billie Holiday was stalked and killed by the man who launched this crusade—and it ends with the story of a brave doctor who has led his country to decriminalize every drug, from cannabis to crack, with remarkable results.
Chasing the Scream lays bare what we really have been chasing in our century of drug war—in our hunger for drugs, and in our attempt to destroy them. This book will challenge and change how you think about one of the most controversial—and consequential—questions of our time.
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