If you grew up in America during the crack epidemic, then you’ve probably heard the derogatory term “crackhead”, a term used for those addicts who will do almost anything to get that next high. What most kids who came of age during that era were led to believe is that one hit of crack made you an addict for life. Now, however, neuroscientist Carl Hart is turning that belief on its head. In a Ted Talk, Hart says that drugs aren’t nearly as addictive as people think and they certainly aren’t the cause of poverty.
Hart, who grew up in a poor Miami community, says he engaged in petty crime when he was younger. In fact, he’s gone from selling drugs as a kid to studying them as a neuroscientist. What he’s found is that drugs aren’t the cause of poverty and that there are many factors at play where addiction is concerned.
“My family, we were poor before drugs entered the picture,” Hart said. “I engaged in petty crime but it had nothing to do with drug addiction. It was about money and status. If you take drugs out of the equation, poverty and crime still exist. It’s not drug addiction causing people to commit crime. It’s other factors.”
Since black communities are heavily policed (many studies have shown that police search blacks more often for contraband than whites), the so called ‘war on drugs’ has been extremely detrimental to black communities.
“Drug laws are not uniformly enforced across all segments of our society, and this perpetuates the cycle of poverty and crime,” Hart said.
He has also reached the counter-intuitive conclusion that about 80 to 90 percent of drug users aren’t addicted to drugs.
“The overwhelming majority of drug users don’t have a drug problem,” he said.
After studying crack and meth users, Hart found that even drug users who were addicted made rational decisions when asked to choose between drugs and even small amounts of money, such as $5.
Watch the video below: