A gut-check on the supposed immorality of drugs

Are drug-users the real villains or is it something deeper

Vichar Mohio
4 min readJan 17, 2023
Man wondering if he likes drugs or ice

It isn’t news that hacking into neurological pathways that evolution designed for survival is addictive.

What I find interesting however is the general disdain shown towards drug addicts as opposed to over-achievers. If every one seems to be chasing happiness, one could argue that short circuit evolutionary systems is at least a workable option.

We seem to have collectively decided that doing yoga or exercising is good but drug use is bad?

This has to have something to do with the fetishization of efforts. Drugs are often bad because they allow you all the upside without having to put in too much effort. This is why a runner’s high or even an adrenaline junkie’s high isn’t viewed with the same disappointment as a drug fiend’s.

As a society, we have bought into the idea that one must (at the very least) “earn” oneselves’ happiness — simply paying money for an experience isn’t enough.

It is a belief system built on very shaky grounds

The only argument against drugs that remotely makes sense to me is that drug-use is unsustainable. That is, if you do drugs, your net happiness levels over the course of a whole life drop significantly.

This could be due to one (or a combination) of the following factors:

  1. Your life expectancy gets shortened — less life means less net happiness
  2. You become too dependent on one particular thing for your happiness — as with everything in life, diversification is probably winning strategy for net happiness a well. Tying happiness to one specific outcome is quite risky.
  3. Over time the side-effects of drug addiction bring you more sadness than joy. But you’re in way too deep to see that clearly.
  4. You enter a vicious cycle which is not sustainable — being doped out all the time will prevent you from earning money to fund your drug addiction

Of the four reasons, I find the first two to be slightly unfair, the third to be mildly convincing and fourth one to be most convincing. Why?

The first two are equally applicable to things falling squarely within the Darwinian activities camp. For example — if you become obsessed with getting that promotion at work, you could work yourself up to a heart attack (actually happens in places like Japan) or be so dependent on work that nothing else makes you happy (I’ve met robots like this in my life as well). However, very few of us look down on workaholics the same way that we do at drug addicts.

Third reason is applicable to chasing anything with single minded focus -be it drugs or $100 million. These could include ruined relationships, stress, poor health, poor sleep — you name it. I acknowledge there is a slight difference, but only if you acknowledge that it is a subjective difference.

For the fourth reason — I have this to say: not all drugs are created equal and the fourth reason can certainly not be applied to everything across the board.

My intention here is not to promote drug use, or rationalize activities that happen related to drug use. But rather to question the unquestioned prejudices we all have. And ask “but why” more often.

I’m not saying its a conspiracy either

Some may point out that anti-drug propaganda is a conspiracy by people in power. And is done to ensure that the status-quo continues to function smoothly.

While this may be true, it is certainly is not straightforward to say all drugs should be legalized — regardless of the conspiracy.

There are likely reasons for outlawing drugs that have something to do with tribal preservation.

Let’s conduct a thought-experiment. Imagine two tribes (A & B) — with each having elites and the working class.

Now imagine that the elites in B have somehow gotten the working class in A addicted to a drug (this actually happened when the British Empire led to mass addiction to opium in China).

Under this thought experiment, it becomes easier for elites in B to subjugate the population of A. Of course the elites in A are likely most impacted by this subjugation (productivity losses likely have the greatest impact on the elites), BUT very few As are going to escape unharmed over a long time as well.

This is likely a good reason that drugs have traditionally been viewed with a negative stereotype.

Are we assigning blame correctly?

Even if drug-use can lead to negative consequences for a tribe, it has always been strange to me on where we decide to park the blame for such a collapse.

The ‘exploitative assholes’ in the above example are neither the elites of A, nor the drug users in A, but rather the elites of B.

B’s population could be one that is never content and always wants more. If there was ever a villain in a story, they had to be it.

But guess what? That’s most humans. And we’ve deemed (without really thinking all that hard about it) that this all-consuming greed for more is natural and not to be judged.

Therefore the only people left to blame are the ones who enable this greed to become a reality. I.e., the drug users themselves.

If it sounds like victim blaming, perhaps that’s because it is.



Vichar Mohio

Writing about topics I find interesting & original. Usually a mix of philosophy, evolutionary psychology & technology