Groundbreaking Book by Columbia University Professor Dr. Carl Hart Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society

Press Release June 6, 2013
Media Contact

<p>Contact: Tony Newman 646-335-5384 or Tommy McDonald 510-338-8827</p>

New York’s Barnes and Noble will be hosting a reading and book signing with Dr. Carl Hart, a Columbia University professor and Drug Policy Alliance Board Member on Wednesday June 12th at 7 p.m. 

At this event, Dr. Carl Hart will discuss his powerful new memoir High Price: A Neuroscientist’s Journey of Self-Discovery That Challenges Everything You Know About Drugs and Society that goes on sale June 11th. His book has generated intense interest, with upcoming national appearances on NPR’s All Things Considered, MSNBC, Fox Business News, and ABC Radio’s Tom Joyner Show.

Dr. Hart will share the captivating story of growing up in one of Miami’s toughest neighborhoods and reveals how it led him to pioneering work at Columbia University, where he became the first tenured black faculty in the sciences at Columbia. Though Hart is a popular lecturer with a joint appointment in the psychology and psychiatry departments at Columbia University, it's his research – which involves administering methamphetamine, marijuana and other illegal drugs to human subjects – that has made him an increasingly prominent figure in academic circles. The study of drugs has traditionally relied on animal models — mice, dogs and sometimes monkeys. But Hart's focus is part of an emerging insight: the best way to pinpoint the effect of a drug such as meth on humans is to study it in humans. His results have started to back this up, confirming that much of what we thought we knew about drugs of abuse may well be wrong. Hart is rewriting the theory of addiction and pointing the way to better treatments.

His new book is based on 22 years of research as a groundbreaking neuropsychopharmacologist about the study and science of drug addiction, but it is also a provocative and eye-opening memoir where he recalls his journey of self-discovery, how he avoided a life of crime and drugs and avoided becoming one of the crack addicts he now studies.  Carefully culling through past studies and his own research, Hart goes beyond the hype as he examines the relationship between drugs and pleasure, choice, and motivation, both in the brain and in society. His findings shed new light on common ideas about race, poverty, and drugs and explain why current policies are failing.  Hart argues that the stories we have all grown up hearing about the dangers of drugs and their responsibility for ruining the lives of many users are just plain wrong.

Weaving together both real-life examples from his personal history, as well as scientific knowledge of the human mind, brain and behavior, Hart shows that our government policies toward drugs, starting with the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986, are reactive and punitive, but based little on fact. “Much of what we are doing in terms of drug education, treatment, and public policy is inconsistent with scientific data,” writes Hart. “In order to come to terms with what I have seen in the lab and read in the scientific literature, there is nothing else to do but speak out.” Research has repeatedly shown that only 10-15% of illegal drug users are truly addicted to the substance, but we readily blame illicit drugs for social problems like crime and domestic violence – issues that as Hart’s own past shows exist beyond any substance abuse.

Sure to be controversial and thought-provoking, HIGH PRICE is a call for a change in how we think about and define illegal drugs and the people who use them. It is also a fascinating memoir of one man’s achievement of success against all odds.  With HIGH PRICE, Hart takes the important first step towards re-educating the American public about drugs, separating the real potential dangers from salacious fable. 

When:      Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Time:        7 p.m
Where:     Barnes & Noble 2289 Broadway @ 82nd St New York, NY

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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