Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: People Take Drugs

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  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And we know how junkies and P-heads get about the rituals around their drug consumption. They basically start getting high before the drugs get into their bodies.

    Or in extreme cases, substitute them for the drug(s) when none are available. Major "WTF?!" moment for me: a junkie repeatedly sticking an empty needle into his vein, compulsively, because he hadn't been able to get on for more than a day.

    Your point re the chemicals of addiction is well made, IMO. The dopamine rush got from a pokies win (even one paying out far less than has been put in) by an inveterate player is something to behold, and I'd wager equals that induced by many an externally introduced chemical.

    Wonder if there's any research to measure it? Sticking junkies and pokie players into CT scanners whilst they were pursuing their dopamine rush of choice would be no small task, though.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    you say that like it’s a bad thing

    Nothing wrong with being high-minded. I'm also damn glad that human beings are delightfully inconsistent, otherwise I'd have died of boredom long ago. I'm just rather amused at the way Labour and National will say ramping up excise taxes on tobacco not only reduces use, but offsets the public cost of tobacco-related disease... but alcohol? As far as I'm aware, neither party was terribly keen on the Law Commission's recommendation of a 50% across-the-board increase in alcohol excise (which is pretty modest by international standards). So why don't we tax alcohol on exactly the same basis as tobacco, again?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11867 posts Report Reply

  • Neil Morrison,

    And we know how junkies and P-heads get about the rituals around their drug consumption. They basically start getting high before the drugs get into their bodies.

    antici.................pation, as someone once said.

    Since Nov 2006 • 932 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to Craig Young,

    the issue of P/crystal meth. In that particular instance and that instance only, I’m afraid that measures like harm minimisation and risk reduction don’t work.

    Why not? Is there any empirical evidence for this? Or is it because this drug is so nasty that conventional interventions don't work?

    I fail to see why harm reduction works with other drugs but not with 'P'.

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    So why don't we tax alcohol on exactly the same basis as tobacco, again?

    Better lobbyists?

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16493 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    eating cheese is good for you

    raw milk. dairy products made with raw milk are good.
    the stuff made with heat-treated milk is not so good.
    can we have decriminalisation of raw milk too, please?

    nagano • Since Nov 2006 • 630 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to stephen walker,

    already available for private sale at numerous farm gates...

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    Oh Rex, hope you had a wee chat to said user. I've seen similar, (continuous delivery via needle believing it's more effective/affective) but there are many who don't succumb to those depths and, as you mentioned extreme, I assume you know this.
    Can I emphasize (for the sake of all non users out there just as valid to the subject) that any taken to extremes ain't beneficial, but moderation alone shows up the human body for it's resilience to lots of these things. However, there is always exceptions, which I believe is the large issue with knowing what to do, hence we get, if you take it away,make it illegal, the problem is not ours. To address it means one has to consider all scenarios and that's pretty impossible. Plus, if you don't take drugs ,how do you really know?Therefore it's easier to go with the status quo? Surely that is the head space of politicians who don't?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6016 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    The problem with that approach is that there will be some who do themselves harm. In the society I want to live in we will care for them within the public health system. Personally I’d like some of the cost of that care paid for by the user in the form of taxes or duties. Tax and duty also allows a reasonably easy way of moderating use – again for tobacco increasing the cost to the user is the single most effective way of reducing use. If you make it illegal to sell you lose that tool.

    The problem with the "commercialise, tax and (hopefully) cover the social costs" approach is that the commercialisation is often a major driver of the social costs e.g. alcohol, tobacco, pokies*.

    Allowing a commercialised distribution of known problematic substances increases the overall negative outcomes because businesses have a habit of promoting their products with a view to expanding their use i.e. more use of problematic substances = more problems.

    I prefer the ACC (socialised insurance) approach to dealing with the harms from drug use. Just like rugby or netball, you can deal with the harm outcomes by spreading the cost across the wider community; you don't need to tax each netball or rugby player individually.

    * I include pokies in this because, the important part is the substance that interacts with the receptors in your brain - not the delivery mechanism or catalyst.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 455 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    I fail to see why harm reduction works with other drugs but not with ‘P’.

    P is extremely addictive, and in my experience, only the most experienced users are able to use it casually without developing a dependency. It also doesn't have major hallucenogenic qualities - it won't freak you out in terms of sensory perception. This means that people who stay away from LSD can happily use P i.e. it has significanlty lower barriers to entry than LSD or magic mushrooms, so is accessible to a much wider cross section of the community (hence the large damage footprint).

    P is a drug of choice for criminal elements because it is profitable and suits their not-in-fulltime-employment lifestyle. Other drugs can mesh with a fulltime employment/studying lifestyle but being up all night 3 nights in a row is not consonant with turning up for work on a Monday morning. You won't change this dynamic by making P more accessible, cheaper and decrimalised.

    In other words, P is dangerous to most who use it and should not be considered on a par with MDMA, LSD, THC and other substances in terms of capacity of harm minimisation.

    The minimisation strategy for P is substitution - such as MDMA.

    Once upon a time, IIRC, New Zealand enjoyed the distinction of being the only country that had LSD as the next most popular recreational substance after cannabis. Perhaps that says something about our national psyche...

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 455 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    +1.Well said.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6016 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I can even cite a personal instance, albeit a “backwards” one in terms of this topic: Mythbusters did an episode comparing drink driving and talking on a mobile while driving. Sure it was “fun” seeing the team get drunk but the eventual message – that talking on a mobile (something I’d done regularly) is almost as dangerous as driving drunk (something I was proud of having never done, even in my yoof) – actually did serve to educate me in a way no amount of heavy-handed “road safety” commercials would ever do.

    Mythbusters however is a scientific-based show, seeking to answer questions through at least reasonable scientific methods. Pretty different from the "ooh we got some people to take some drugs and look what happened" news shock stories.

    You know, I’m actually not so sure. Sabin was conspicuous by his absence in discussion of the LawComm review – and he really only needed to pick up the phone to get himself on Close Up.

    I wonder if that's the result of his selection? The media might have decided that now he's "wearing colours" they'd have to bring in a labour or greenite, and it would have taken away from the more fact-based enquiry of the law commission report to have a few politicians yelling at each other?

    Basically if you plan on taking drugs in your own home the state doesn’t care, providing the duties and taxes associated cover the health costs to keep you alive.

    This may be a good libertarian argument, but to me it's a terrible argument for a society. The idea that because you only physically harm yourself, no other people are affected by the use and abuse of drugs is whacked. If you smoke three packs a day and die in your 40s, a bunch of people are missing out on 40 years of your life and all that brings. There's no good double-entry accounting for that.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6162 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    Personally I would go for the rule they have in Davis CA, where you can’t smoke within 50 feet of the entrance to a public building. Which means that you can’t smoke anywhere in the centre of town. It will happen in NZ eventually.

    And this policy is based on what exactly? The flawed ETS (environmental tobacco smoke) "research" that boosted funds to the "Smokefree" lobby?
    While we still send people into mines and claim working in a smoky pub kills you the work related harm concept is total bullshit.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4679 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    Oh Rex, hope you had a wee chat to said user.

    Well yes, but perhaps not in quite the way you have in mind. He was constantly dragging others, who were trying to get out, back into his particular little black pit, while resisting any and all attempts to offer him assistance. So alas my wee chat amounted to "If I see or hear of you round x or y again, I'll..."

    To address it means one has to consider all scenarios and that's pretty impossible. Plus, if you don't take drugs ,how do you really know?Therefore it's easier to go with the status quo? Surely that is the head space of politicians who don't?

    Well I could perhaps forgive them that if they said that, and then attempted to remedy their pig ignorance. For example there was a thread on suicide on Kiwiblog the other evening and since it's something I occasionally encounter but cannot even begin to get my head around (despite having done communications for a joint Health Ministry / College of GPs Practice Guidelines on Youth Suicide and thus having read them and thus presumably knowing a little more empirical stuff than many) I dived on the knowledge of commenters who'd worked for Lifeline and had other relevant experiences like politician at an all-you-can-eat buffet.

    Not that I'm holding myself out as an exemplar of intellectual engagement - most people here would do the same thing without a second thought.

    It's just that, on emotive issues at least, many politicians don't. And of the few that do, even fewer will go wherever their findings take them... and if that's toward a more liberal drugs policy, then polling be damned.

    Still, at a time when timidity is widely praised as a virtue, or at least as a successful political strategy by right and left alike, I guess fearless fact finding is too much to hope for.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    P is a drug of choice for criminal elements because it is profitable and suits their not-in-fulltime-employment lifestyle.

    That is simply preposterous. If it were only used by the "criminal element" it would hardly be the scourge of society that we are told it us. The fact of the matter is, many people use it, mostly because they want an alternative to booze on a night out. Offer them better alternatives and 'P' will return to what it was in the eighties - for the lunatic fringe.

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to vangam,

    That is simply preposterous. If it were only used by the “criminal element” it would hardly be the scourge of society that we are told it us.

    Ah but…
    Drugs are illegal so they become the “criminal element”. It is a self perpetuating myth.
    The fact that drugs not manufactured by corporations that lobby governments to prohibit natural substances, eg. cannabis, mushrooms etc., is the big problem, it is the deamonisation and labelling by those that gain from this abhorrent situation that needs controlling.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4679 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to vangam,

    If it were only used by the “criminal element” it would hardly be the scourge of society that we are told it us

    That's not what Mikaere said. He said "P is a drug of choice for criminal elements" which does not exclude it from the general population at all. He went on to say it suited their non-employment based lifestyle.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1883 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to nzlemming,

    Apologies – I thought “not-in-employment” lifestyle excluded the "general population".

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    Mythbusters did an episode comparing drink driving and talking on a mobile while driving. Sure it was “fun” seeing the team get drunk but the eventual message – that talking on a mobile (something I’d done regularly) is almost as dangerous as driving drunk

    That’s because driving drunk is not the real problem. The real problem is not paying attention whilst driving.
    Driving is quite simple, cars are designed to make hurtling down the highway as simple as possible for those that really should be in a home for the demented. So simple in fact that you can do it off your trolley. Problem is many people do not understand the consequences of piloting almost two tonnes of metal down a road at 100 kmph is actually quite dangerous even at the best of times let alone when you have to close one eye before you can tell which white line should be where and how slippery the road is and all those other factors that are quietly ignored by car manufacturers hawking racecars off to pubescent youths trying to prove their manhood.
    (Pause for breath)
    If people were made more aware of the danger of their obsession of "owning the road" and believing their car is an extension of their egos we would have less carnage on our roads.

    I have a friend who claims his vehicle is an automatic, it’s a horse.

    The wireless north ;-) • Since Dec 2006 • 4679 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    The fact that drugs not manufactured by corporations that lobby governments to prohibit natural substances, eg. cannabis, mushrooms etc., is the big problem

    And thus the obvious solution is for a government to say "'P' is a horrible, highly addictive drug with enormous deleterious effects on the individual and on society. If a drug company cares to develop a means to get high that meets these (peer reviewed, objective, evidence-based) safety criteria, we'll license it for sale in this country".

    Accept the inevitability of people wanting to take recreational drugs, and outsource the production of safe versions of such drugs to the pharmaceutical industry. They could then lobby against the breweries, which would be a tremendous spectator sport. Or perhaps Lion Nathan might float a "party pill" division. The "criminal element" supplying the toxic substances wouldn't last long... their coroporate competitors would price them out of the market. We might even see the gangs making predatory pricing allegations to the Commerce Commission.

    And of course we'd demand a portion of the corporate's profits to fund drug education as the casino, sports betting and racing industry is made to do in Australia.

    How come free marketeers lose faith in the market's ability to provide solutions when the issue is a sticky, moralistic one? A commodity is a commodity, subject to the same laws of supply and demand whether it's a pie or a party pill.

    Mind you, our markt's probably not big enough for that to work, so we'd have to convince the Americans... *sigh*

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    How come free marketeers lose faith in the market's ability to provide solutions when the issue is a sticky, moralistic one?

    Business as usual isn't it? For instance, broadband is hardly a quagmire yet apparently our captains of industry need relief from regulation for a decade after a couple gouging us all and exporting the profits. Pussies.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16493 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed,

    So prohibition seems attributable to two basic factors:

    - Prohibition is too profitable to repeal. (DuPont, Big Pharma, Big Booze, Law & Order Inc)
    - Prohibition keeps the 'proles' in their place. (Willy Hearst, Law & Order Inc)

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4158 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    So why don’t we tax alcohol on exactly the same basis as tobacco, again?

    I'm guessing to do that we'd need vertebrates in parliament.

    But yes I'd agree, a higher tax/duty on alcohol is warranted.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Bart Janssen,

    I’m guessing to do that we’d need vertebrates in parliament.

    +1 for a nice riposte ;-)

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1883 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    That is because it is.

    Huh?

    You seem to be suggesting I'm an authoritarian. My stance is that folks should be educated, so they know what does them harm, they should be free to do things that do them harm if they so choose, but that they should be asked to set aside money to pay for their care if said harm occurs.

    I don't believe ACC should bear all the cost. Nor do I believe making commercialization illegal is a good idea because it is just too close to prohibition to work well. I understand Mikaere's point about not trusting business since their goal is to make money but that's why you have a strong Com Com. Business is not inherently bad, having selfish pricks without any conscience in business is the problem.

    On balance I'll keep my high ideals.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 3262 posts Report Reply

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