Stanton Peele wrote a fantastic post today about Paul Newman's beer drinking ways and the cloak of secrecy surrounding them. Steele's point, which is a very good one, is that despite all the anti-drug and anti-drink hype floating around America, we're pretty far from the puritanical society we pretend to be.
We like to smoke pot, drink booze and take drugs right there alongside the rest of the world. So how, Peele wants to know, can come to grip with the so-called ‘Newman Paradox:' The fact that a great many of us routinely use psychoactive substances (and yes, alcohol is a psychoactive substance), and pretend like we don't.
So how do you solve the Newman Paradox? Well, we could start with the facts. And by the facts, I'm mainly talking about UCLA psychopharmacologist Ronald Siegel's fantastic and almost completely overlooked research found in his book "Intoxication." First written in 1989 (and republished in 2005), "Intoxication" chronicles Siegel's lifelong investigation of our mind-altering habits. He is one of our country's leading authorities on the social and psychological effects of drug use and has spent his career studying such habits around the globe. He has looked at the question of intoxication not only in humans, but in all primates and he has come to one stark conclusion: the pursuit of mind-alteration is a basic and fundamental drive. A biological drive. What he call's "our fourth drive," no different than our drive for food, sleep or sex.