Monday, November 1, 2010

This is Bat Country...

In honor of a report on drugs that I find to be completely full of shit, I want to provide my expert opinion.

I feel uniquely qualified to comment on drugs because I have several years of pharmaceutical education at the university level and over a decade of close, personal contact with heavy drug users. Then there are my own personal drugscapades, and the fact that I’m clear headed enough now to write lucidly on the subject.

A new study seeks to rate and rank drugs based on their impact on the user and those around them. I applaud the attempt, but I think the findings are relatively ill-informed and the methodology is likely biased heavily against substances based on popularity. I also think some of the rankings are just total hearsay.

Alcohol was determined to be more dangerous than crack and heroin, and I whole-heartedly agree here (though not when combined in a vicious speedball). However, I can’t help but feel that alcohol got a bad wrap for how ubiquitous it is. What’s more, the conclusion that many seem to be drawing from the study is that alcohol should be more closely controlled.

I guess suggesting that heroin and cocaine should be sold legally would just too thoroughly blow the minds of some people. A few countries get the picture, like Switzerland. While not legalizing hard drugs, they provide amenities and clean gear for the user, and this has drastically reduced HIV rates and improved overall health for users. They also don’t criminalize use. This encourages treatment, because no junkie is going to seek help if it means admitting to a crime they will likely serve time for.

I’ve sampled most of the drugs on this list of ranked drugs, with some exceptions:

I have never knowingly done Mephedrone (though chances are it was added to some adulterated substance I’ve ingested at one point, probably in Ecstasy). I’ve never chewed khat, though I readily would if given the chance. I never even thought to inhale butane, which makes me wonder why nitrous oxide was not compared (as laughing gas is fairly easy to come by in ISI whipped cream chargers). Buprenorphine (Suboxone) is nothing but an opiate derivative, so I think having tried nearly every other pain killer on the market is close enough. I never dreamed of taking anabolic steroids.

There’s also a cavalcade of substances I have tried – and enjoyed – that aren’t on this list. The ADD/ADHD drugs Adderall (dextro- and levoamphetamine) and Ritalin (methylphenidate) are quite effective for reading long, boring texts, as well as making interstate travel a joy. You can also pop one if you need to clean up, and pretty soon your whole house will be alphabetized.

There’s a whole host of legal highs you don’t even need a prescription to get that were not even considered. I already mentioned nitrous, which is a cute little excursion into a pulsating realm of pseudo-self discovery.

There’s also dextromethorphan (DXM), the fun stuff in cough medicine. Robo-tripping is over-rated, in my opinion, unless you can find gel caps (like DexAlone) that have no other active ingredient. Chugging a bottle of cough medicine is probably the second most stomach turning drug consumption event I have experienced, behind only the musky cow-shit taste of dried shrooms.

I think salvia is a waste of time, huffing does more harm than it’s worth (food-grade nitrous is far safer and more enjoyable), and inhaling ether (i.e. diethyl ether) does not produce a high so much as it produces the feeling you get right before you pass out.

Frankly, if you want to try huffing or ether, you’re better off sitting in a chair, resting your elbows on your knees, making fists with both your hands, leaning your neck on your fists where the arteries pump blood to your brain, and holding your breath. When you wake up on the floor a short while later, you will have experienced roughly the same effect for free. This is also slightly less likely to kill you.

Perhaps my favorites that aren’t on the list are peyote and morning glory (aka mescaline and LSA, respectively). Most morning glory seeds are coated with a substance to discourage abuse that makes you sick when ingested, so be sure to buy organic there or you’ll be vomiting. Peyote isn’t legal, but grows quite commonly in the Southwestern desert regions. If you get to know some of the First Nation people still living on reservations out there, it’s easier to find than alcohol on a Sunday in the South.

At this point, I want to make a comment. It has nothing to do with legal obligation, I just feel this to be true. While all drugs should be legal, I think very few should be encouraged. Even then, moderation is the key. Some drugs seem to defy moderation in some individuals, like heroin or meth, but I have found that most people are aware of what they can (or more commonly, cannot) handle before they get themselves into it.

Drugs cannot make you smarter, more creative, a good writer, more spiritual, or really anything but high. Humans are pleasure seeking animals, and there is no shame in admitting that drugs provide pleasure. This is reason enough for their legalization and use. What’s more, the safety provided by legalizing and regulating drugs is immeasurable. Standardized purity means less overdoses. Decriminalization also eliminates the hesitation to seek medical help.

Okay, that said, I want to rant about the bullshit masquerading as “science” here. The one that pops right out at me and pokes me in the eye is GHB. The risk to others is stated to be very low, but GHB has already supplanted Rohypnol (flunitrazipam, or rufilin, i.e “roofies”) as the date-rape drug of choice. GHB poses a far greater risk to society than the “user,” assuming user implies someone knowingly taking it (like a body builder, who may use it for its side effect of increasing human growth hormone).

Perhaps equally perplexing is that methamphetamine is ranked roughly as low as GHB when it comes to harm to others. By comparison, cannabis is ranked several times more dangerous to others. That blows me away, because I think a pot head is much less likely to be a risk to others than a tweaker. If you are worried about being harmed by a stoner, don’t get between him and the chip aisle at the grocery store.

In fact, I can’t really imagine how cannabis can be harmful unless driving while under the influence, but if that’s the case, I would much rather be in the car with a stoned driver than one tripping on acid or shrooms, both of which scored an impressive zero on “Harm to Others.”

A fair amount of this makes no logical sense to me, but I’m glad people are looking at it. Alcohol is not the worst drug on the list, and certainly not if you look well beyond the norm. For example, sniffing glue is worse than drinking alcohol. “Ecstasy” is also much more dangerous, because it is a cocktail of unknowns. Now, if you mean MDMA, then sure, that stuff is as harmless as milk (if you’re lactose intolerant… which isn’t to say Molly gives you the shits).

Conspicuously absent from the list? Caffeine. Based on how weird the results turned out and how biased against commonly used drugs this list is, I’m guessing it would have been mid-way down the list. I mean come on, tobacco was ranked more dangerous than amphetamines, ketamine, methodone… I mean come on. I don’t even smoke and I’m insulted. How dumb do you think I am? The real victim, however, has to be alcohol.

Whenever I see alcohol being demonized, I think, “What soft drink manufacturer funded that study?” The fact that this is coming from the “Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs,” an organization which does not make its funding public, leads me to believe that Coca-Cola and Starbucks want to introduce psilocybin laced sodas and vente cups of coffee with LSD sugar cubes.

Not that I’m opposed to such a thing…

1 comment:

  1. If you can ever spare a second please help out The Bucket Project by commenting on any post one thing you want to do before you "kick the bucket".

    Jessi @


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