I was raised on a steady diet of, “Say No to Drugs” and advertisements comparing frying eggs to your brain on drugs. Combine that with the potential for addiction and all the stories in the media about drug related violence; and the information seemed clear. Drugs are bad. The war on drugs is good. Right? I never even bothered to research it. In fact, if you had asked me a couple of months ago whether I thought drugs should be legalized, I probably would have laughed at the ridiculousness of the idea. Even though I didn’t expect it to, this book changed my mind.

The book “Chasing the Scream” explores the war on drugs from every angle and incorporates practical suggestions for a more successful approach throughout the book. The author, Johann Hari, speaks about drug addiction from a place of compassion and understanding which is refreshing. The book is well written and organized in a way that gently leads even the most stubborn minds to a place where they can comfortably consider opening up. Hari understands his target audience is thoughtful people who sincerely want what’s best for society and he treats them with respect. He’s not forceful or condescending. In fact, reading this book feels a lot like having a good conversation with a respected friend.

Hari is open with his own doubts about altering our country’s current drug policies and he addressed every question I could think of in the process of exploring those doubts. His book is full of documented research and examples of countries with more compassionate drug policies.

For me, this book was a page turner, especially the first half, which is unusual for non-fiction. Hari is a talented story teller as well as a sensitive researcher. This book left no doubt in my mind that it’s worth learning more about alternate approaches to the war on drugs and for that reason I’m giving it 5 stars. I highly recommend taking the time to read this book.