Cousteau on Illicit Drugs

The world's most renowned environmentalist, Jacques Yves Cousteau, was also very aware of, and opposed to, the internal environmental damage that psychoactive and addictive drugs impose on human beings.  Thus, he wrote the following compelling prefaces/forewards to three of the many books by Gabriel Nahas, M.D., Ph.D., DSc., recognized internationally for his research on psychoactive and addictive substances.

Dr. Nahas was a French Partisan during World War II and has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom with gold palm, the Legion of Honor, and the Order of the British Empire, the Order of Orange Nassau and the Medal of Honor of the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty. In 1996, the French National Academy of Medicine, the oldest and most prestigious medical academy in Europe, awarded him the title of Laureate of the National Academy of Medicine for his studies and books on drug abuse.

Jacques Yves Cousteau's preface to Drug Abuse in the Modern World (1981), ISBN 0-08-026300-3

            Why should men and women of today often prefer a chemical gratification to the joy of physical fitness, to the challenges of life, to the marvels of nature, to the great voyages across ocean and space?  Why should they resign themselves to become anonymous prey to the unscrupulous international drug Mafia?

            The authors of this monograph who come from many continents and from all walks of life have attempted to give some answers to this knotty question.

            This book emphasizes the pharmacological effects of addictive drugs on their primary target:  the brain.  The human brain, by its very nature, especially in adolescence is most vulnerable to the drug-induced "high" and most tempted to recreate its effortless exhilaration.  This chemical illusion carries with it a heavy price:  in the immediate:  loss of awareness and instinct of self-preservation; in the long run: mental illness and, what is even more important, impairment of reproduction function.  Yet adults in factories, offices, executive suites and the armed forces are not the only victims of the fashionable poisons:  recent surveys show that more and more school children are consuming drugs, many on a daily basis.  The resulting harm to the genetic heritage of mankind is a terrifying threat to future generations.

            The explosion of drug abuse in Western society is a consequence of a general social permissiveness associated with systematically distorted information.  However, societies which have maintained their taboos against these drugs such as Japan or the popular democratic republics appear to have contained this problem within tolerable limits.

            How can society protect its fabric against the use of addictive drugs?  Where can the concerned citizens find a sober and factual appraisal of such a grave problem which all of us have to face and solve for the sake of our progeny?

            We must all read the book that is presented here.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

Jacques Yves Cousteau's foreward to COCAINE: The Great White Plague (1981), ISBN 0-8397-1700-8

            The ability of man to disturb the ecology of the planet is matched by his propensity to pollute his own internal environment by using drugs of dependence.  Among them, cocaine, extracted from the delicate leaf of a South American bush, is the most damaging, as clearly explained in this book.  Cocaine, more than any addictive drug, impairs, at times, permanently, the fine brain mechanisms of "neurotransmission" essential for coherent, ration behavior.

The author is not only a most knowledgeable scientist, but he is also concerned about the safeguard of man.  He seeks, therefore, to understand the social and biological factors likely to explain the causes of the present cocaine epidemic which has already taken on threatening dimensions in the Americas, and which is now spreading to Western Europe.

            Few people—few governments—realize that this offensive of drugs (and specifically of cocaine) is simply an episode of a planned enterprise of destabilization of the Western world.  We are living a war (undeclared but merciless) and in such times of national emergency only exceptional measures can overcome the threat.  Only a strong public opinion can influence the leaders to organize seriously the defense of the Western culture.

Jacques Yves Cousteau

Jacques Yves Cousteau’s foreword to Keep Off the Grass (1976, 1978, 1982, 1985, 1990)

            Some ants are among the few social animals known to use “drugs.”  Their custom is to drag live plant lice deep into their nests, to ingest some of the juice excreted by their captives, and thus, apparently, to find in the resulting intoxication relief from the pressure of their working day.  But these ants pay a price for their intoxication because the “drug” also reduces their awareness and their aggressiveness.  They are then unable to compose an adequate defense should their colony be attacked by another “nation” of ants.

            Marijuana, like most drugs ingested by man, gives the user the impression that his senses are enhanced; when in fact they have been distorted and impaired.  Those who explore beneath the surface of the sea know this problem.  Diving on air, deeper than one hundred feet, they are subject to what is often called “rapture of the deep” or “nitrogen narcosis,” which I understand, is subjectively very similar to the feeling experienced when smoking a “joint.”  “Stoned” by “rapture of the deep,” a diver is seriously endangered because he loses his instinct for self-preservation.  But on land, car drivers “stoned” by marijuana become a hazard not only to themselves but also to all the other users of the road!

            One of the oldest intoxicants known to humankind, marijuana is now widely spread throughout the Western world, where two decades ago it was practically unused.  But little has been known about the scientific effects of the drug.  In this timely and important book, Dr. Gabriel Nahas describes, as a result of careful scientific studies, the damaging biological effects associated with the marijuana habit.  They are of the most serious nature.  They impair the formation of basic chemicals essential for the orderly division of our cells, for the normal transmission of heredity, and for the preservation of memory.  If we remain ignorant of these effects, we too may lose our instinct for self-preservation!

            If we are concerned about the external pollutants that threaten our environment, we should be equally concerned about internal pollutants—like marijuana products.  For sheer survival, we must defend ourselves against both kinds of pollution.  Furthermore, I believe that we need to keep all our senses constantly at their maximum keenness if we are to enjoy and to take full advantage of our short participation in the miracle of life.

     Jacques Yves Cousteau  

Other scientific publications on cannabis edited by Dr. Nahas include:

            CANNABIS Physiopathyology, Epidemiology, Detection (1993) – From the proceedings of the Second International Symposium organized by the National Academy of Medicine, with the Assistance of The City of Paris, April 8-9, 1992, ISBN 0-8493-8310-2

            MARIHUANA AND MEDICINE (1999) – From the research presented at the Conference on Marihuana and Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, March 20-21, 1998, ISBN 0-89603-593-X

            DRUG ABUSE IN THE DECADE OF THE BRAIN – From the international symposium titled “Drug Abuse in the Decade of the Brain held in Houston, Texas, September 22-23, 1995 and cosponsored by the University of Texas-Houston Health Science Center and Houston’s Drug-Free Business Initiative.  ISBN 90-5199-305-6