drugs, smoking and addiction
|establishment psycho-bunk is a sub-set of documents within the document block that shows how to apply empiric reasoning to social and psychological problems..|
|Intelligence: misuse and abuse of statistics||drugs, smoking and addiction|
|establishment psycho-bunk||cause, chance and Bayesian statistics|
|For related empiric reasoning documents, start with
Why Aristotelian logic does not work
Warning to the reader
A little knowledge can be dangerous. This document is technically sophisticated. Unless you study human behaviour it may cause you some confusion or difficulty. It is advised that you discuss the contents of this document with your advisors, carers or teacher.
‘Drugs’ mess with the chemistry of the brain; drug-taking is not a risk free activity.
Best to say right from the beginning that I do not buy into a great deal of the received ‘wisdom’ concerning ‘addiction’.
Remember, every person is different, their problems are different, their experiences are different and their genes are different . Thus their inclinations and weaknesses will be different. As the old saying has it, ‘better not to judge another person until you have walked a few miles in their shoes’.
|start||Types of drugs||Uppers||Government and industrial profit|
|Addiction||Downers||Hallucinogens||Who gains by the great ‘drug war’?|
|Who is an ‘addict’?||Accommodation and withdrawal||Drug reliability and purity||Advertising|
|Symptoms||Suggestibility||Poisons and risks|
|Speed of delivery||Criminalisation||Legalised drugs||Endnotes|
You cannot know what is the mind of another, the foggy best you have available is what they tell you. A very great deal of nonsense is written and said, founded on the silly notion that you can know what is in the mind of another. You cannot ‘feel their pain’. To suggest, claim, or pretend otherwise is both an arrogance and an untoward intrusion. People feel their own pain and have to adjust and cope with it the best they may. The very best you can hope to do, is to be there for them if they choose to ask for your assistance, or for your hand to hold. Even this, you must consider carefully and try not to commit yourself beyond that which you are willing to maintain.
This document is written on the, sometimes contentious, subject of ‘addiction’. It is written both as a demonstration of the confusions in the common human mind on the idea of ‘addiction’, and as an illustration of the dubious nature and uncertainties of labelling people’s behaviour, that is both the behaviour of your self and the behaviour of others.
This document is also written as a more down to earth and less irrational approach to the subject of ‘addiction’. Addiction, as with much behaviour, is widely in the mind of the beholder. The prime technical purpose of this document is to enable you to understand this, but there is no reason that it should not be read simply as a primer upon what is commonly called ‘addiction’.
I am approaching ‘addiction’ neither as a chemist nor as a medic, my concern is ‘psychological’ and ‘logical’. I am also concerned by the destructive and foolish human and political behaviour, often referred to as ‘the drug war’. The ‘drug war’ is an illegitimate intrusion upon liberty and rationality by those who claim ‘authority’, and by those who use force for both venal and otherwise dubious ends. The ‘drug war’ is a form of puritanical witch-hunting, which must be opposed if individual rights and freedom are to be further advanced.
Let me make it clear here that I am referring to the ‘rights’ and freedoms of ‘adults’ not to some laissez faire approach to the ‘immature’. (For much expansion, refer to franchise by examination; education and intelligence).
While being a widespread human activity, overuse of drugs does pose risks to your long-term health and happiness, and often to the health and happiness of those around you.
Your body has many feedback mechanisms, by which it attempts to keep you healthy and safe. ‘Drugs’ adjust your body artificially, so your body tends to fight back to rebalance itself. If you supply drugs regularly to your body, your body will adapt and, thus, negate the effects of the drugs. This is why ‘addicts’are often caught in a cycle of taking ever-higher doses of drugs. In fact, that is a fairly good description of what becoming an ‘addict’entails. You become the servant of the drug, instead of the master. It is for similar reasons that many powerful drugs should not be used lightly, as they may have reduced effectiveness when you really need them. Likewise, bugs also adapt to antibiotics.
When drugs of addiction are taken for pleasure, or to relieve unhappiness or pain, your brain becomes reset to expect the drug and thence to take counter measures to rebalance your body.
It then becomes more difficult to derive pleasure from everyday experiences. Thus, you can get drug-induced depression, as a drug starts being taken in order to avoid depression, and otherwise feeling bad without the drug, instead of for the original reasons.
‘Addicted’ is another word for ‘I want’, or ‘I like’, or ‘I like a lot’, or ‘I like a great deal’. Some people like money so much that they will mug and rob banks, or even kill people. Most people do not become that violent or anti-social, in order to get what they want.
There is often an imbalance in a person’s description of their own actions, and in their description of the actions of other people: ‘I like a drink’ – ‘he is an alcoholic’. Which translates to, ‘my drinking is OK, whereas their drinking is a nuisance to me’, or ‘their drinking is really rather over the top’. (Compare with these categories.)
Some people say, ‘I am addicted’, or ‘I am a christian’, because others have insisted to them that ‘christian’ is what they ‘are’, or that ‘christian’ is an approved thing to ‘be’. For others, saying ‘I am addicted’ is just a way of saying, ‘I like doing this’, or even, ‘people reject me because I ingest strange substances’.
Words can be taken as being approving, or ‘rah’ words, as in, ‘I am intelligent’, and disapproving, or being ‘boo’ words, maybe like, ‘she is catty’. Often similar words can be used to indicate both approval and disapproval, according to the speaker and/or the context. Often people say, ‘I am addicted to coffee’ in a semi-proud manner; whereas, referring to another person as ‘addicted to heroin’ would often be intended as disapproving. However, among street heroin ‘addicts’ calling oneself a drug fiend can be a declaration of membership of a rather risqué club, a club that ‘dares’ to stand out against ‘conventional’ society.
One kind of substance that some regard as ‘addicting’ is any substance ‘that changes the state of a person’s mind’; unfortunately for any useful definition, all substances do that to one degree or another. The touch of silk on the hand may give the mind pleasure, whereas fish upon the palate makes some people sick.
‘Addiction’ is usually applied to substances which the user finds pleasurable. Some people do not like other people getting pleasure, such people are sometimes called ‘puritans’. Some people like to pass ‘laws’, to control what other people should be allowed to do in order to get pleasure. They also attempt to legislate ways in which it is ‘naughty’ for other people to get pleasure.
Some things which appear to give some people pleasure involve intruding upon others. I have already mentioned robbing banks. It is reasonable that we have ‘laws’ against intrusive activities. It is not reasonable that we have ‘laws’ prohibiting actions which do not result in un-negotiated intrusion upon others. see the logic of ethics).
I believe that it is reasonable to regard all
humans as addictive to one degree or another.
We are all ‘addicted’ in some sense or another. We are all ‘addicted’ to food; most are ‘addicted’ to clothing. If you stop eating you will start having ‘symptoms’, some of those ‘symptoms’ can bear a resemblance to the ‘symptoms’ of ‘drug’ ‘addiction’ . Just try to persuade one of your friends that it would be a fun thing to go down the supermarket without any clothes on, most will get quite hot under the (remaining) collar, they may even become rather aggressive if you press the matter, they may even have hot and cold flushes if they take up your offer, they may even have nightmares after such an event! They might even lose their appetite.
‘Withdrawal’ ‘symptoms’ over food may well be thought to be a necessity for survival, but trousers! Really, you ain’t going to die just because you forget to dress before sallying forth. Unless, of course, some of your puritanical neighbours go over the top, and attempt to murder you. In the more advanced West, it will soon become a matter of a few averted eyes and, very likely as the habit spreads, you will not even be noticed.
So why such a fuss over a bit of cloth? I suggest to you that much of it is habit, after all there have been tribes that take clothing one whole lot less seriously the puritans still among us. I propose that a very great deal of the trouser addiction is simply a matter of what people are used to. Even if it were baking hot outside, you are so used to (or addicted to) your trousers that you would rather miss the feel of having them about. A bit like if you had forgotten your keys, or your purse—you might have a vague feeling of something missing, or being ‘uncomfortable’.
People adjust to their
situations; they tend to feel comfortable with
But my purpose is serious. In about 1950, Keys managed to persuade some young men to join an experiment on human starvation as an alternative to military service . They suffered many of the symptoms claimed for addiction and various traumas. While it maybe reasonable to link some of the symptoms to the experience of being semi-starved, it is not good logic to assume that another person feeling the symptoms was necessarily being starved.
In general, a person who is ‘addicted’ does not/cannot easily escape their addiction. Consider, for example, your addiction to clothes. Most people do not become free of their addictions. They may learn to manage them without much social damage. They may tend to grow out of them. They may make the judgment that the costs outweigh the benefits, swear off the addiction, and attempt to keep away from the sort of conditions that they know are liable to restart the cycle. But escaping will tend not to be easy, or, often, even necessary. Society tolerates people who are addicted to over-eating, or smoking, or alcohol, or even to wearing clothes, without the sky falling in, and without turning the person into a social pariah.
Think carefully on this.
I believe that so-called ‘withdrawal symptoms’ are, at least in main part, an illusion. I intend to look at ‘withdrawal symptoms’ in two stages, first the ‘symptoms’ bit, and then the ‘withdrawal’ part.
I read a very great deal of nonsense about how this ‘symptom’, or that, indicates some particular ‘disease’ or ‘traumatic experience’. I regard such statements, essentially, as rubbish.
What is interesting is that the list of ‘symptoms’ allocated to these various ‘syndromes’ hardly varies from one ‘syndrome’ to another. The ‘symptom’ list usually contains items like ‘irrational’ fears, nasty dreams, various repetitive habits, cold sweats, poor appetite, hot sweats, headaches, indigestion, diarrhoea, ‘depression’, constipation, poor concentration, tiredness, tension, unhappy or tearful! The list just goes on and on. I am almost tempted to add long, curled toe-nails.
My general view is that these ‘symptoms’ are part and parcel of the normal, everyday experience of living, and that they become more exaggerated when a person is unhappy, bored, or tired. Whether the person ‘blames’ the ‘symptoms’ on some local discomfort, often with the ‘help’ of a pseudo-‘professional’ or, nowadays, blames some past experience with the hope of getting ‘compensation’, is near to coincidental. It is quite possible that the loss of a job, or a failed relationship, may at some time in life bring such feelings to the fore, but most people tend to pick themselves up, dust themselves down and start all over again. 
Naturally, recovery processes are more protracted if the irritant was several years on the front line in a war living with constant fear, than if you just lost a dollar or pound, and found a euro. Doubtless, a more ‘sensitive’, or less confident, person may have less resilience and determination to ‘recover’, than will a confident and previously ‘successful’ person. But I will assert that these ‘symptoms’ are nothing ‘special’, and that most likely they are not ‘symptoms’ of some particular irritation, as we pass through this vale of tears. Certainly they are not some defined ‘illness’ given a fancy name and called a ‘syndrome’. Some people seem to even become addicted to their ‘symptoms’ as a means gaining attention!
These are just general natural bodily responses ‘suffered’, or met, by almost all humans as they encounter life’s many travails.
Remember, people do things because doing them gives pleasure, or satisfaction, and avoid doing things that they find painful, or otherwise unpleasant. They do not take drugs because someone forces them, they take drugs because they wish to; and they do not stop because they do not wish to stop.
If people are caged in prisons or ‘asylums’,
If an animal is kept in a cage and punished if
it ventures outside,
This process is called ‘accommodation’; the individual has become ‘accommodated’ to the situation. The situation has, for that individual, become ‘normal’.
A similar process can be observed when a pneumatic drill starts up outside your residence. At first, it is liable to drive you to distraction but, after not too long a while, you tend to become used to the infernal racket. There is similar accommodation when living under an aeroplane flight path. Thus, visiting a big city like London is a most unpleasant experience of continuous noise and fumes; yet the residents hardly seem to notice the squalor of their surroundings. In fact, many ‘townies’ cannot wait to escape from the quiet of the countryside, reacting as ‘bored’, or ‘isolated’. The noise has become ‘normal’ and its absence leads to ‘withdrawal symptoms’ and reactions of discomfort.
Thus it is with ‘drugs’, which often have serious harmful ‘side effects’—like liver disease with alcohol, or the multiple types of damage done by smoking. After stopping the ingestion of a ‘drug’, it can take months for more ‘normal’ chemistry to re-establish and for the ‘addict’ to feel comfortable in the return to the more healthy drug-free state.
So with loud music at discos: what was stimulating and exciting at first, eventually pales. Therefore, the music is turned up higher and ever higher to feel the excitement, or stimulation. At first, the drug may give pleasure; but in time, the original dose is not enough, so the user is tempted to use more. Each time, the brain adjusts to the new level, as it attempts to function in balance. Thus it is that, in time, the alcoholic will drink large amounts without much effect, other than growing liver damage, as the liver works overtime to remove the poisons.
The ability of a ‘drug’ to bring on ‘addiction’ appears to be related to the speed with which its messages are delivered to the brain. Smoke is said to effect the brain in a few seconds, injection takes a little longer, while eating or swallowing pills can take ten or twenty minutes. The more quickly the brain feels the effects of what the body takes in, the more easily is the brain able to connect/associate the action (of imbibing) with the reaction of ‘pleasure’.
It is the connecting of action with reaction that forms the basis of learning. The more often and the more speedily the association of pleasure occurs, the more the brain will tend to seek out that particular source of satisfaction. An item that evokes pleasure is said to reinforce the behaviour; that is, of seeking out and ingesting the substance or repeating any experience. (With actions found unpleasant, the reverse occurs and the behaviours are inhibited.)
One reason suggested for over-eating is bolting food. The brain does not receive a message that food has been ingested for, perhaps, 20 minutes; by which time the feasting person may have eaten more than is useful, or necessary. Maybe this is the root of granny’s advice to chew everything 30 times and not to rush your meals. Food can also taste good to humans, thus giving a signal much earlier to the brain, rather than the brain having to wait 20 minutes to feel a benefit.
I am somewhat ‘addicted’ to chocolate. I have noticed that if I eat the poor quality English stuff I tend to bolt the whole bar, whereas if I buy top-quality French chocolate (in general, the best there is!), I am more inclined to eat much less and savour the taste.
‘Pleasure’ responses have originally evolved in order to encourage the body to seek out and eat food when necessary and, generally, to attend to health and maintenance. Taking drugs, which evoke ‘pleasure’ at high speed, tends to fool the body into not bothering to do things like eating food. The body receives the pleasure more immediately. This ignoring of normal eating, and other body maintenance, in favour of the immediate gratification available from drugs, leads to those ‘addicted’ to drugs to ignore basic bodily needs. This is the root of a major part of the damage done by addiction. A form of ‘laziness’ develops as normal behaviour is bypassed.
It is useful to think of drugs in three basic categories:
Uppers give you extra energy, primarily by robbing your reserves. They keep you awake when your body really would rather be sleeping. Therefore, taking a cup of coffee late at night is a fine way of not getting a good night’s rest. As you rob your reserves and lose out on sleep, the temptation is to take more of the upper in order to compensate, thus putting yourself into a damaging cycle of being constantly somewhat below par. Uppers are the chosen drugs of workaholics, the nervous and neurotic, and the student who has left studying ’til the last minute.
A common ‘legal’ upper is caffeine, found in coca-cola, coffee, tea and chocolate, also ritalin, while the ‘illegal’ equivalents could be cocaine or various amphetamines. Ecstasy, another ‘illegal’ upper, is also claimed to have a hallucinogenic element. Cigarettes  are the source of nicotine, another upper, but cigarettes also make you short of breath and, therefore, also have an opposite effect.
Uppers speed up the body, they block an awareness of tiredness, they can produce shakes and make people feel edgy. People are able to do things faster and stronger. They are more aware, more alert. Thus, some athletes take uppers to improve their speed and stamina. Their stamina is improved because they are drawing down their reserves, even cannibalising muscles for energy! Military organisations also sometimes give uppers to their pilots and soldiers to increase their state of alertness. Students have often used uppers for exams, and they can also improve IQ performance.
With uppers, the heart rate goes up and the blood pressure rises. There can also be organ damage. Uppers can cause heart attack. People may go on for several days without sleep. Sleep deprivation is known to cause mental breakdown and hallucinations sometimes referred to as schizophrenia; hence in vulnerable people mental problems may be initiated.
Downers send you to sleep and tend to lower your feelings and your sensitivity. They are therefore used to escape from the pains and problems of life.
Common ‘legal’ downers are aspirin, alcohol  and paracetamol. Similar drugs are used to induce lowered awareness and unconsciousness, for performing painful operations, such as having diseased bits – say, the appendix or a mangled limb removed. The major ‘illegal’ versions are opium derivatives like heroin.
Downers can make you sleepy, they decrease coordination, and they decrease sensory mechanisms. For example, with an old alcoholic you will find a lot of them have burns on their fingers because their fingers no longer have feeling—they will smoke a cigarette down to a point where it burns their fingers. Downers decrease pain. And people using downers will frequently be unkempt, because they do not take good care of themselves.
If taken in sufficient quantity, downers slow down the metabolism to the point of unconsciousness, coma or death. There can also be major organ damage. Alcohol is carried in the blood and attacks cells, all organs that use blood are damaged. The brain is a big user of blood, so alcohol destroys brain cells. The liver is a big user of blood, so it becomes cirrhosed. Every organ from one end to the other end of the body is irritated and inflamed, and can become damaged by the alcohol.
Hallucinogens tend to distort your perception of reality, to confuse the brain, to send you into confused waking dreams. They emulate similar experiences to schizophrenia and ‘seeing’ things like ‘ghosts’ or confused colour. Some claim these products help them be ‘creative’, to break down their pre-conceptions.
There are no ‘legal’ sources of hallucinogens, although a knowledge of wild plants (such as some poisonous mushrooms) is given less concern by the state than the more convenient potions of the ‘illegal’ market. Common sources on the illegal market are cannabis in many forms, L.S.D. and, some claim, ecstasy.
My work with drug ‘abusers’ leads me to be particularly concerned with these substances, as I have a distinct impression that they lead to long-term problems with memory and, therefore, with intelligence. Others also have such opinions and views. Links to depression and schizophrenia  are also suspected. Thus, I do not regard cannabis as benign or harmless, as much current fashion suggests. Marijuana, we are discovering, produces brain damage. Tobacco and marijuana smoking damages the lungs . Researchers say that one marijuana cigarette creates about the same damage as three to five tobacco cigarettes.
The major drug manufacturing companies, incidentally among the most profitable businesses in the world; tend to produce products of considerable purity and reliability. On the other hand, the illegal markets will tend to palm you off with anything it can get away with . Thus you do not know whether you are being sold the claimed ‘drug’, or baking powder, or pills of compressed rat poison. But hey, who’s counting? After all it’s your body K
Because when purchasing criminalized substances you must invariably deal with ‘criminals’, it becomes a bit difficult to demand your money back guarantee. The suppliers are always attempting to cut (that is, mix) the drug with cheaper substitutes, like talcum powder, in order to maximise their profits. Sometimes, now and again, you may buy an accidental shot of ‘better’ grade material. This lack of consistent ‘quality’ control is a major source of heroin overdose deaths.
People have killed themselves by going on various fad diets. An enthusiastic ‘scientist’, noting that Eskimos had very low risks of heart disease, came to the conclusion that the fish and blubber diet thinned the blood and thereby offered protection. So he tried the diet out on himself, and died from internal bleeding. He was not genetically adapted to such a diet. Others have died from all egg diets, all carrot diets and from extreme forms of veganism.
Almost anything will kill you when taken in excess. There is no such thing as a poison, outside the concept of a dose level. One of the considerable problems with ‘illegal’ ‘drugs’ is an inability to control the dosage, or even to guarantee the purity. There are some very dangerous (relatively dangerous) forms of activity, like working on fishing boats, boxing or mountain climbing; even travelling by car is one of the higher risk activities. Criminalized drugs pose considerable risks to your health, not least the risk of persecution by those who have chosen to criminalise the drugs, a process that may well destroy your content and also the happiness of your friends.
Now placebos are not drugs at all in the normal sense. It has been widely observed that in many cases, if you give a person a sugar pill, tell them it is a particular drug and tell them the effects you expect that drug to have, lo and behold, the person reports those effects. This effect is so strong that a researcher at a major pharmaceutical company, investigating morphine (an opiate related to heroin), told me that if you can convince a heroin addict that you are injecting heroin and instead inject water, they tend not to have ‘withdrawal’ symptoms.
It is data like this that makes it so difficult to be sure that the ‘symptoms’ being reported by drug users are reliable.
In general, people live in social environments that tend to conformity, to the reinforcing of beliefs and ideas common to that group. In order to ‘fit in’ the individuals take up the expected and demanded behaviours of the group. This applies every bit as much to heroin addicts as to politicians, the executives of pharmaceutical companies and to the readers of the Daily Slime.
Withdrawal is an expectation of giving up heroin use, just as being excited and dancing all night is an expectation of ecstasy. It is known that a percentage of ecstasy tablets contain no ecstasy, yet the dance goes on. Humans are rather good at convincing themselves that they feel what they are ‘meant’ to, or ‘supposed’ to, feel. The supposed effects of ‘hypnotism’ are, likewise, widely believed to rely upon producing expected behaviour in ‘subjects.’
Opiates also tend to make users particularly suggestible; and the placebo effects caused by being connected to a mysterious box, or having needles placed under the skin, are considerable. Similar suggestibility is also involved in persuading dull people to confess, by attaching them to so-called ‘lie detectors’. These are machines which, of course, do not detect lies at all, but only crudely measure tension. It is likely that acupuncture, which also involves needles in the skin, operates, at least in part, by suggestibility.
Incestuous relationships between big business and tobacco
As smoking is one of the great killers and a considerable social nuisance, as well as being ‘legal’; a very great deal is known about smoking from research. Why should so many idiots stick a dummy in their mouths and then set fire to it? After all, you do not see many people lighting bonfires, or even candles or joss sticks, and then sitting hunched over them to see how much of the filthy fumes they can suck into their lungs. You do not often see people start up their car and go around the back for a quick sniff. Why does not government ban the filthy weed? After all, it has foolishly attempted to ban less addictive and less harmful drugs. Perhaps you thought government banned things to help you, and to improve society. While there may be some such element at times, most government rules are made up in order to give the governments greater power, not in order to improve your lot. The main lot governments seek to improve is their own lot.
Governments, that is the individuals that comprise governments, receive all manner of advantages from tobacco. They harvest vast revenues from the taxation, to then spend on their vain follies. Many government members are provided with sinecure places on the boards of tobacco manufacturers. The tobacco industry does this in order to inveigle the government (members) to make laws, and so provide legal protection, which enables the hugely profitable tobacco companies to run and expand their profitable empires. (This is, of course, also true of the other vastly profitable purveyors of alcohol and prescription drugs.)
Of course, these other concerns also have sinecure board places and ‘donations’on offer. In any honest world, these ‘positions’ (which require extremely small amounts of real active work) would be termed bribes, rather than ‘directorships’, or ‘consultancies’, or ‘donations’.
Yes, the puffing of the fag causes very large amounts of illness and unpleasantness in offices, restaurants and homes, but it does provide more work and employment in hospitals and fag factories. You may see propaganda against fags citing the huge health bill, but there is another incredible advantage to governments, insurance companies and the like.
There are a great many jobs riding on tobacco, so drug vendors and their fellow travellers tend to threaten governments with job losses, as recently happened in the UK.
You may not realise that the top centre in the world for developing high performance cars, by far, is the UK. Until recently, 90% of the Indianapolis 500 cars were designed in Britain, as are most of those with labels like Mercedes, Renault, Ford, Ferrari and so on. And they race around the tracks, emblazoned with all those pretty artistic fag ads.
The Formula One chief offered the British (Labour) Prime Minister a million pounds to help advertise the Labour Party. Strangely, soon after the following general election, which the Labour party won, the Labour (Bliar) government forgot about the ban on cigarette advertising that had been among their election promises.
In the previous Tory government, one of the top office-holders, likewise, gained election funds and a place on the board of a large tobacco company. He was the one whose job in the government was to set tax rates on tobacco, amongst other duties.
Note how these industries, such as tobacco, tend to fund both sides as they seek advantage. Governments are largely funded, and thereby owned, by big business and large unions. In the USA, Ken Starr doggedly pursued President Bill Clinton for many years over supposed difficulties. (The pursuit, predictably, came to nothing.). Ken Starr was heavily backed by the tobacco industry. Now remember, President Clinton was working hard to control the depredations of the tobacco industry in the United States.
Everybody, but everybody, who has studied the issues is well aware that the ‘drug war ’is baloney. However, you would not know that to read the Daily Slime, or from listening to hypocritical politicians seeking votes from the uninformed.
It is quite a list; consider the interests involved:
So, the ‘drug ’war’ is used to ‘justify’ more policemen and more civil oppression. It develops more corruption, more lawyers, more sales to replace stolen goods, more insurance premiums from frightened householders, more sales for padlocks, as well as making ‘necessary’ a good part of the security industry.
The estimated costs of this ‘war’ in the UK alone are in excess of £12 billion annually, but this is probably a considerable under-estimate. The figure does not quantify fear and disruption to people’s lives. It does not quantify the deprivation visited on those who are unnecessarily criminalised by all this pointless wasteful activity, nor the effects on their families and friends. It does not account for the distrust and even hatred for police attempting to enforce these daft ‘laws’, and the concomitant tendency therefore, to bring useful law into disrepute and to make the job of a competent police force much more difficult than it need be.
The estimated costs from a treatment approach in
the UK are more like £1/2 billion, say one twentieth of the cost of incarceration.
The only people who gain from this idiocy are the criminal economy and all those parasites who live off it.
It was the criminalisation of alcohol, known as ‘Prohibition’, that laid the groundwork for the great power of organised crime in the USA, and eventually resulted in the great brewing corporations as the product was legalised. Organised crime remains a social ill in America to this day. Some people never learn, or perhaps they have other agendas? I will leave you to decide just how much is conspiracy, and how much is just mistake.
Criminalisation has the
extremely damaging effect of inhibiting those who need help
Look carefully and you will see that the legalised drugs, such as tobacco and alcohol, cause vastly more deaths, injuries and ill-health than all the ‘illegal’ drugs put together. Therefore, the reason for making drugs ‘illegal’ clearly has not one thing to do with health or safety concerns. You do not see many smokers or drinkers unable to hold down a normal job, or requiring vast numbers of prisons to be built and staffed.
You are not going to have vast increases in the number of addicts just because a substance is ‘legalised’. As you can see from the section types of drugs, there are, readily available, substitutes for two of the main groups of drugs, while the third group is treated more and more leniently, in the case of cannabis.
Much drug use can be thought of as self-treatment for the social ailments of the poor and under-educated, or as an escape from the pains of living. For instance, a middle-class lady will go down the doc’s for a prescription of some heavy-duty sleeping pills, or a huge variety of other mind-altering aids. Much of the real problem is a depressing culture and little education to self-reliance. It is estimated that at least one in six medics (‘doctors’) use heroin or tranquillisers as a response to stress and tiredness, but, of course, they have easy access to the drug chest. The drugs the medics take are of consistent quality, and they know how to keep equipment sterile and so on. Never-the-less, they are carrying on a complex job without the hassle of having to live on the edges of society.
The great majority of illegal drug involvement is among the poor and the uneducated.
There are vastly more users of legal drugs than there are of ‘illegal’ drugs. At worst, by treating ‘illegal’ drugs as a medical issue, the problems with disease, overdosing and criminalisation, would be removed, along with the idiotic costs that criminalisation puts upon society. The ‘illegal’ users could be returned to normal living and helped to reduce their dependency, where possible and where they desire it.
A more rounded and realistic approach to drug education would then become possible, and a great deal of hysteria removed.
Why do not the ‘news’ media tell you about the vastly greater numbers in the middle classes across the land who are using very similar, but much better quality, drugs? Those drugs are, of course, produced by the very profitable pharmaceutical companies, who place their advertising in the media and who ‘donate’ large amounts to the political parties. These companies are not going to be over enthused if articles condemning ‘drugs’ in lurid tone begin appearing alongside adverts for the latest version of mother’s little helper. Mother is not going to be too pleased either. Far better to divert attention by attacking those ‘illegal’, cheaper, ex-patented, competitors out in the street!
You may see some details of another similar incestuous relationship in children and tv violence
Again, for many decades, the tobacco industry have done everything in their power to avoid any responsibility, and to keep promoting, with the full collusion of their client politicians, a habit which they knew, and still know, kills millions.
The industry knows full well that if they cannot get a child hooked before the age of twenty, it is very unlikely that they will ever turn that person into an addicted client. Hence, their enormous efforts to bring their products before the young and vulnerable, by seeking to glamourise them. A similar approach may be seen in the alcohol industry. It is clear that that this glamorisation aimed at children should cease.
|Related further reading|
|Intelligence: misuse and abuse of statistics||drugs, smoking and addiction|
|establishment psycho-bunk||cause, chance and Bayesian statistics|
empiric reasoning documents, start with
Why Aristotelian logic does not work
|1||See also Twin studies.|
Keys, A., Brozek, J., Henschel, A., Mickelsen, O., &
Taylor, H. L. (1950). The biology of human starvation (2
vols.). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
a song with words by Dorothy Fields, music by Jerome Kern, 1936
performed in the musical, Swing Time (sung and danced by Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, danced by Victor Moore and Helen Broderick), 1936
the World Cancer Report published by WHO, 2003
And that is mostly just the cancer.
The population of the USA is approximately 5 times that of the UK, so using a factor of five between the two countries works in most cases except for the prison population.
|6||Drugs that have been used medicinally to aid the psychotherapeutic process by enabling patients to access and deal with repressed painful emotional issues.|
The following from a neuroscientist accords with my own
However, there is a constant logical problem in knowing to what degree people are attracted to various drugs because of already extant predispositions, or to what extent the 'drugs' 'cause' the 'symptoms'.
Of course, there is every reason to believe that, if smoked (very often with tobacco), cannabis will also bring its train similar terrifying devastation to that wrought by smoking tobacco.
|8||LSD—Lysergic acid diethylamide|
|9||3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is commonly referred to as Ecstasy. MDMA was patented in 1914 by Merck but was never made commercially available.|
Some links to the British Medical Journal
As you will see, knowledge is as yet limited and unclear.
Note that “consistent with” does not equate with “proven”, but does indicate substantial suspicion.
If you wish to dig in seriously, a large and detailed report on cannabis is available from the Government of Australia.
For example, one study found that there was huge variation in the quantity of MDMA [ecstacy] (19–140mg) within a single brand of tablet (White Dove) and that other tablets contained no MDMA at all. Sherlock, K.,Wolff, K., Hay,A.W.M. & Conner,M. (1999).Accident and Emergency Medicine, 16,194–197.
|12||It is reckoned that the majority of people in British and American prisons are there because of their drug habits and associated criminalised behaviour. The British prison population per capita is considerably higher than the great majority of European countries, and the American prison population per capita is at least five times higher than that of Britain, and is now [04.2003] reported to number over 2 million.|
Title of song by the Rolling Stones.
Note the word “playing” and the lack of foresight.
The population of the United Kingdom is approximtely 50 million, which of course includes children.
Note that not one dealer, or producer, or user has been criminalised
or sent to prison for abuse of these ‘drugs’.
email abelard at abelard.org
© abelard, 2003, 7 april
the address for this document is http://www.abelard.org/drugs.php