This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High in America

I know what you’re all thinking: how can she go from writing about the Fifty Shades trilogy to drugs?  Truth is, I have a diverse interest in books.  Not only that, but when it comes to public policy, my focus is on drug policy and reform.  I find it thoroughly fascinating, which could speak volumes about me, but I prefer to think of it as a problem of the people.  Much like the Fifty Shades trilogy brought BDSM out of the closet, shows like Intervention have brought drug abuse out of the dark and into the public spotlight.  Whether it is a member of the family who secretly smokes or snorts his or her problems away, or towns ravaged by methamphetamine, drug use and abuse affects various facets of life.  As such, people should give drug policy a more thorough look.  And that is what this book sets out to do.

Within the pages of this book we are given the basic history of drug use in America, from the creation of cocaine, heroin, and amphetamines, and what it meant to the burgeoning pharmacy companies, to the present day and the ruling status of Big Pharma in government policy.  Ryan Grim does an excellent job of engaging readers through personal accounts, statistical evidence and some very thorough and surprising conclusions formed from the data presented.  Within the first three pages of the book, Grim comments, “Little tells us more about the state of America than what Americans are doing to get high.”  When I first read this statement, I sought out a highlighter and emblazoned it with a vibrant orange.  This statement, simple and short, encapsulates the very essence of the book.

The country’s love affair with mind-altering substances has been a rocky one, at best.  Always looking to the next best high, the creation of variant chemical compounds has been the leading business for Big Pharma since the early days when advertisements claimed heroin and cocaine  genuine medical cures.  When the country was going through Prohibition, drinking declined considerably as opiate usage steadily rose, because individuals believed alcohol consumption was more negative than smoking or ingesting opiate compounds.  This example provides a vast insight into how America has danced with drug policy throughout the ages.  A more recent example within the pages of this book comes from the drug prevention program D.A.R.E.  Statistical evidence showed that children who went through the program did not in fact benefit from its “Just Say No” slogan, but provided intrigued youth adequate information to experiment with gateway drugs such as marijuana.

These examples are just a few of the mind-blowing informational facts that Grim writes about.  Entertaining and informative, Grim provides a very even-handed, although nowhere near neutral, understanding to drug policy and use in America.  Through his words he can enlighten those in the dark on these topics, and bring a fresh perspective to those experts, in however you wish to define the term.  For anyone who has an interest in drug policy, this is a great introduction into a very tumultuous world.