Peter, I understand where you are coming from. I understand that you want to help people. I applaud that effort
From my perspective :
The problem with many of these disorders, it is difficult in the early years of research to flush out differences in causation and correlation.
Many people with very severe disorders will try to self medicate, because they do not understand that they have a disorder. They experiment with one thing that they interpret as providing some sort of relief...but its usually not just one substance.
As a result, any study that goes back and looks at this individual can ask them "did you use Y or Z" and if they answer yes, then their behavior becomes correlated to that drug. It doesn't mean that all drugs are good or bad... just that multivariable analysis is usually needed to separate risk factors.
To study complicated psychological problems and abuse, it is very important to take into account other confounding social indicators. For instance, poor people with mental disorders tend to experiment more and have a larger poly drug history because they have less access to legitimate medical treatment. They are also less likely to have people in their life that can accurately diagnose and help them. So, the problem is that there is never a single correlation, but rather a multiplicity of them which must be waded through.
Say for instance Paxil grew on a plant rather than a drug store. How many people would show a correlation between depression and Paxil ? How many people that couldn't get prozac, would find the paxil and begin using it. People that are poor often times have the worse break downs because they under more stress, have poor nutrition (VERY iMPORTANT), have fewer people in their immediate family they can rely on... etc... as a result anything they have touched becomes amplified in correlation studies.
People that have learning disabilities, people that have had consistent failures at school, are also more likely to suffer from feelings of depression, to blame themselves. This pain is something they will try to fix regardless. I have a family member that used pot, and he never had anywhere near the level of academic success I did. His problems started LONG before marijuana though, and it was only after a lot of intensive study by my relatives, that they learned he had a disability - dyslexia!
His grades are now MUCH higher thanks to the fact that he saw people licensed to help him overcome this disability. I'm sure that if he had a drug test and they saw the weed, they would have blamed his poor behavior and his failures on the drug
. I doubt they would have looked much further into the root of his problems and actually ascertained what was making him feel so negative and angry towards himself. Fortunately my family's love was both methodical and consistent for him during this time.
The problem with turning a drug into "thing" that we blame for social problems, is that it doesn't allow us to see clearly what is going on with a person. We are inevitably using previous judgements to say "ahh this must be the root of the problem"... people are NEVER that simple. Certainly there are some drugs that will never have legitimate practice in psychotherapy (methamphetamine comes to mind, though it might be useful in treating immediate damage from heart attack stroke in emergency room settings). Everything that goes into the body will effect the mind. Some models of addiction include eating disorders like anorexia. Some people have theorized that the behavior to starve one's self can become addictive... the endorphins released from lower blood sugar levels actually drive the person to continue to continue the behavior like a drug! How many times when you fast do you get a sort of speedy feeling in your gut? The body releases chemicals to help your body deal with the starvation, and these are also mind altering. Would people that fast too frequently be considered drug users? I have heard psychologists in this country argue just that.
I would encourage people to look at how far psychology has come in the last 50 years. 30+ years ago Autism was labelled as "infantile schizophrenia" ... Watch the story of Temple Grandin ( a noted scientist with Autism), and you can see in just one instance, how much our understanding of variant psychological states has changed in just a few decades. They locked those children up in institutions, and most of them never even learned to talk. Fortunately, Temple Grandin's mother would have none of this, taught her daughter to read and write, helped her get multiple scientific degrees, and her success sparked a complete reversal in the practice of psychology and psychiatry.
You can tell a person not to be heedless... but each person has a different head and a different mind so only they are going to know what this looks like.
Buddhism I understand encourages a person to understand the fundamental difference between conventional truth and absolute truth.
Conventionally, drugs aren't that great on people. In absolute terms, a human's life is a process of mediating between many different ideals. Healthcare professionals are a necessity in this process, but the ultimate test of peace, doesn't come from an institution and they shouldn't be relied upon as a source of absolute knowledge.
Compassion is more than just a virtue. It is the perfection of wisdom.