Columbia U. Professor Uses Heroin for ‘Work-Life Balance’

Columbia Prof Carl Hart
Bryan Bedder/Getty

Columbia University professor Carl Hart says that he uses heroin regularly as part of his “work-life balance.” The professor added that he first tried heroin six or seven years ago, and that at the time, he was already a tenured professor who was “well over” 40 years old.

“My heroin use is as recreational as my alcohol use. Like vacation, sex, and the arts, heroin is one of the tools that I use to maintain my work-life balance,” said Hart in his book, entitled, “Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear.”

Hart, who is a professor of psychology and neuroscience at Columbia, explains in his book why he believes all drugs should be legal.

“This notion that people are not going to use drugs, that’s silly and adolescent,” the professor told Insider. “That’s what this book is about: being grown up.”

Hart added that his family supports his recreational-heroin use, and insists that he continues to meet his responsibilities as an academic, husband, father, and taxpayer.

“The most important thing we have emphasized as parents is: Just try and live like the person that you think you are — a moral, compassionate, global citizen,” Hart told Insider. “My family would expect me to stand up on behalf of the people who have been castigated [for using drugs.]”

The professor also acknowledges, however, that he does know what it feels like to go through withdrawal.

In his book, Hart states that he has had mild heroin withdrawal, adding that he has gone through it more than once after using the drug “for no more than about 10 consecutive days at a time.”

Hart describes his withdrawal symptoms as similar to the flu: chills, runny nose, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and says that they begin about 12 to 16 hours after his final dose. The professor added that for hours, his withdrawal symptoms would be so incapacitating that he couldn’t sleep.

In dealing with his own withdrawal symptoms, Hart says that he crushes up a bit of sedative and knocks himself out for several hours, until the pain subsides and becomes more manageable, such as aches and a runny nose.

The professor added that he hopes President Joe Biden will decriminalize heroin possession — a step toward more open, legal drug use of all kinds.

Hart also He also believes that many of the 60,000-plus drug overdose deaths across the U.S. every year could be eliminated with better education on the topic, and a cleaner supply.

“Our founding document guarantees us at least three birthrights: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” said Hart. “Those ideals are profound. It means that you can live your life as you choose. And it’s nobody’s business, as long as you do not interfere with anybody else doing the same.”

In his book, Hart says that he wonders what is so wrong about indulging in a short, thin “few lines by the fireplace at the end of the day.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.

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