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,

    Ideally, there would be an "at your own reasonable risk" standard

    And that's why I don't think drug education is necessarily, as you state above, a waste of money even for those caught with small amounts. A lot of people (as illustrated by the examples above) don't realise how much is too much till they're taking too much and they're past realising anything at all.

    OTOH spending vast amounts to tell me and countless other boring stay-at-homes via expensive TV commercials that P is bad, mmmkay, is money that could be better spent on engaging directly and intelligently (and compassionately) with anyone who's shown themselves to be inclined to take recreational drugs by virtue of their possession of small quantities thereof.

    Once armed with the knowledge of what's reasonable and what the risks are, then people can take responsibility for themselves armed with the information they need to make judgements and dear old Nanny State can STFU and stop telling us how to behave.

    Ferchrissakes I've just heard the Premier of WA telling the media he's "fed up with the larrikin behaviour" of his subjects... sorry, constitutents... as if that is going to do the slightest bit of good. In fact I now have an overwhelming urge to drink to excess and vomit in his begonias.

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • willrjmarshall, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    For what it's worth, this rather depends on the drug. One of the major problems with alcohol use is that being drunk characteristically impairs one's capacity to determine how impaired one is.

    With some other drugs, quite the opposite is true. With most hallucinogens, for example, one is very much aware exactly how impaired one is. With enactogens (Ecstacy/MDMA, mephedrone, etc) a similar thing happens, except that obsessive self-monitoring is characteristic of their effect, so users tend to be more than usually aware of their own condition.

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Rex Widerstrom, in reply to willrjmarshall,

    With enactogens (Ecstacy/MDMA, mephedrone, etc) a similar thing happens, except that obsessive self-monitoring is characteristic of their effect

    Thus, presumably, the cases of death or near-death from hyponatraemia (too great an intake of water) by users of such drugs? (Though I realise the numbers are so small - something like 7 death per million uses - that they've been significantly overemphasised in much anti-drug literature).

    I'd thought that it was pretty much only hallucinogens which were quite good at making you realise how impaired you were and everything else (particularly alcohol) was susceptible to the "I'll be fine if I just have one more" syndrome? Some qualitative research with users rather than just reliance on statistics (where cause and effect are often conflated and/or confused) would be useful, but try finding funding for that :-/

    Perth, Western Australia • Since Nov 2006 • 157 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Russell Brown,

    And this is one of the signs of marijuana use, according to their website:Acting silly for no apparent reason.

    Actually one of the more common signs of marijuana intoxication is talking rubbish with great conviction, there's irony for you. Editor at Bay of plenty Times, I'm looking at you...

    One way of achieving this with minimal fright to timid politicians, while also neutralising a lot of macho police blather and generally keeping the horses calm is to introduce “drug courts”.

    I was thinking along the same lines and coming to the same conclusion...

    Their position in the criminal justice system means they gain widespread acceptance in a way that public health programs (as substitiutes for “puniutive” responses) wouldn’t, but when you look behind what they do they are public health programs, with the “sentence” usually amounting to “go away and get well”, and then the various agencies (who are sitting at the back of the court) swoop in and provide the means to do so.

    Double plus good old chap.

    I would add that those various agencies already exist and tend to be under funded, diverting the horrendous cost of policing this insane obsession into these agencies would even save money in the long run.
    Now, what were they saying about doing silly things with no apparent reason?.

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • vangam,

    I'm not in favour of drug courts - I would rather see them not go to court at all. As it is, the drug courts are currently restricted to youth offenders, who are, most likely, dealing with behavioural problems - the drug use is probably symptomatic of and peripheral to the real problems. Too often drugs are used as the excuse or the jusitification. I get tired of teenagers admitting they have a drug problem - do it for ten years and then tell me what a problem it is!

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    I now have an overwhelming urge to drink to excess and vomit in his begonias.

    capital

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19706 posts Report Reply

  • linger,

    And in some cases, drug courts seem to be horrifyingly misapplied.
    Listen to this ( This American Life episode 430, “Very Tough Love") and weep.

    Tokyo • Since Apr 2007 • 1923 posts Report Reply

  • willrjmarshall, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    Being A: given the advice to drink lots of water, and B: being unaware of hyponatraemia can lead to obsessive over-consumption as an attempt to "be safe" and prevent dehydration. Educating users on hyponatraemia and encouraging them to drink electrolytes is the easiest way to fix this, since MDMA won't interfere with their awareness of these issues while they're high.

    Hyponatraemia is certainly a risk of MDMA use, but it's rather different from the "I'm fine, I'll have another" lack of self-awareness of alcohol and so on.

    Wellington • Since May 2011 • 2 posts Report Reply

  • Islander,

    Hyponatraemia can kill - and drinking electrolytes doesnt necessarily do a lot- trust me! 6 years ago, I accompanied one of my family in an ambulance at 2 in the morning for a 2 hour drive between here and the base hospital. The family member had spent a day feeling very ill, and vomiting. In the base hospital, when the hyponatraemia was diagnosed, that family member spent the next 12 hours on a slow intravenous build-up to proper levels. IF THE BUILD UP IS TOO FAST IT STRIPS THE MYELIN FROM BRAIN CELLS.

    The hyponatraemic event had nothing to do with recreational drug-taking by the by-

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

  • Islander, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    Oh & oops- I should have corrected one matter: hyponatraemia should read hypernatraemia in the paticular instance I detailed...BUT hyponatraemia also requires expert input-

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

  • andin,

    On one level, it’s just another crime show in which the police have final editorial sign-off. But I don’t think the people who make and broadcast Drug Bust really believe in what it says

    Oh the stories I could tell about behind the scenes of another of those "Poh- leece" TV shows. Up at Northern HQ ripped of our tits.......

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • ChrisW, in reply to Rex Widerstrom,

    to introduce “drug courts”.
    Their position in the criminal justice system means they gain widespread acceptance in a way that public health programs (as substitiutes for “puniutive” responses) wouldn’t, but when you look behind what they do they are public health programs,

    Lovely typo, the Puniu River being the Confiscation Line following the Waikato War, the aukati forming the northern boundary of the the rohe potae of King Tawhiao, the King Country. Which provided a base for Tainui-Maniapoto to negotiate a transitional accommodation with the sphere of the Crown.

    So puniu-tive - at first sight a hardline approach, but laying a base for a negotiated transitional accommodation between incompatible jurisdictions or paradigms, perhaps politically achievable?

    Gisborne • Since Apr 2009 • 851 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Of several elephants in this particular room I suggest legal prescription drugs is the biggest. Lets start with ...
    Ritalin - a stimulant, the wee cousin of P .
    This article reveals " Data from NZ drug agency Pharmac showing 106,000 prescriptions for Ritalin for our children in 2010 . Just over 660 of those prescriptions were for preschoolers."
    We are giving our preschoolers a form of speed! Quite aside from the side effects what sort of double message does this level of prescribing send to our kids? Hey kids we need to change your behavior so we are giving you some drugs to do that, oh but don't use drugs to change your behavior when you are older.
    In my experience long term Ritalin use , just like speed, sucks the wairua out of kids. One of the saddest sights I have seen in my work with boys is a 10 yr old with a 6 year Ritalin habit ( legal) his eyes were hollow and blank, he behaved... but was lifeless.

    And don't get me talking about the misuse of antidepressants.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Bart Janssen, in reply to Russell Brown,

    For sure. Ideally, there would be an "at your own reasonable risk" standard -- with a requirement that risks be made explicitly clear -- and a pretty tight rein on means of sale.

    Essentially this is what we do with tobacco and alcohol. We could do it better with alcohol but that's another discussion. This is also the point where I disagree with Ms Turia and her plan to ban tobacco. I'd imagine a situation where drugs were graded on their health risk and labelled accordingly. Sale of those drugs would be subject to taxation, duties and regulation. Use of those drugs would be restricted to non-public places, essentially the same as you see for tobacco now.

    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.

    Then you could spend money on realistic education of children to make sure they understand.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 4458 posts Report Reply

  • Gareth Ward, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Ideally, there would be an "at your own reasonable risk" standard

    For sure, but I'd presume that at that standard, a few "commonly" taken drugs would still fail the grade.
    I don't have a detailed understanding of relative drug harms but if, say, P failed that standard we'd still have a ban. I guess I'm wondering if there would not still be all the existing problems of prohibition, or would they be "watered down" enough by the:
    a) availability of other drugs
    b) eventual faith that the bans are actually there for harm-minimisation

    And how would you deal with breaches of that ban under that sort of regime? Possession would presumably be nothing (if you want to harm yourself, away you go), but supply would need criminal charges around endangerment I suppose.

    Auckland, NZ • Since Mar 2007 • 1727 posts Report Reply

  • Blair Anderson,

    re recent UK report "urges the adoption of consumer protection legislation" is what we have in our Ministry of Health legislative response to recreational soft drugs now. (see restricted substances regulations" http://legislation.govt.nz ).

    The right to possess (for personal use) is a barren right without protecting and honouring the right to purchase safely, the right to informed consent, the right to research, develop processes, improve quality control and materials handling, to secure, store, transport, process, manufacture, cultivate, label, and merchandise. Commercial law in conjunction with civil oversight (ie: R18, certified list of contents etc) is enabled by the innovative restricted substances regulations.

    The Law Commission Review pretended its terms of reference did not include examination of the Single Conventions from first principles (preferring to be beholden to any reform as being within the realms of what is 'politically possible' ) accordingly it kept Cannabis as Class C and citing the 2005 United Future MOD amendment "cannot put drugs down a class" despite evidence or best practice. This was contrary to the earlier purpose of creating an expert advisory committee and held our legislative standard to a 'thou shalt talk about cannabis in this term of parliament or we will withdraw the treasury chequebook' by a bunch of folk who thought dihydrogen was a killer drug threat.

    We cannot hope to fix alcohol (or tobacco, kroic or meth) without adopting the highly indicated even if holistic approach to an ALL drug policy as recommended in the pre-National Drug Policy formulation documents circa 1996. Instead we got a separation of licit (alcohol) policy and after several years (quite a deliberate obfuscation) illicit policy completely at odds with best practice and worse, at odds with Ottawa Charter principles.

    We are still, despite a $50,000pa budget (1995 dollars) to do ANY cost benefit analysis of the prohibition of cannabis, it was dropped systematically in what was described by eminent epidemiologists and public health experts as "going, going, gone" presumably because such a study would have had legislative implications.

    Again despite a comprehensive review by Val Sims and Warren Young they failed to do ANY policy impact statement for 'social dealing' of any recreational drug, where Police discovery requires arrest and removal of any drug for ESR analysis, removal of any evidence of 'money' or, contrary to recreational soft drug administration, equipment required for quality control and any 'perp' labelled for running a clan-lab.

    Until we are prepared to put the signatory status of the Single Convention under scrutiny we will never fix what is broken forever beholden to the politics of failure and a legacy of smoke and mirrors policy tensions.

    We must legally regulate cannabis. Anything else is just moving deck chairs.

    The Law Commission report was titled control and regulate, so, just bloody do it. It is the product of choice for so many, it is not criminogenic, we need to do good epidemiological research for a whole bunch of reasons [ie: look up "cannabinoid AND (diabetes OR obesity)" on Google Scholar] and having done so, much of the angst regarding all the rest of the drugs including those that are emerging....(oooowww, must be a drug threat!) simply dissipates to become either the realm of the bored or science of small numbers.

    For this is the stuff of social capital.

    Christchurch, New Zealand… • Since Oct 2007 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    I’d imagine a situation where drugs were graded on their health risk and labelled accordingly. Sale of those drugs would be subject to taxation, duties and regulation.

    I'm not so inclined to consider caveat emptor to be a sufficient mechanism to prevent harm. For substances that, when used responsibly, usually have minimal harm, then sure. But for substances like tobacco (and pokies, for that matter), all the warnings in the world can't help you once you are addicted. For this kind of drug, you need to deal with the drivers of updake - which means the nearly ubiquitous nature of tobacco supply in our community. I would prefer to see it illegal to sell or import for supply, but legal to possess and legal to grow.

    It's not just about decrminialisation/legalisation, its also about understanding the role of legal supply and whether that promotes irresponsible behaviour. And I'd like to see controls around promotion as well.

    My current view is that if we had some well-understood and comparatively low-risk, reasonably-priced legal options available (e.g. MDMA) then we could deal with the troublesome drug use (alcohol, P etc) because people will use an alternative if it does the job (having a good time, staying up late).

    Use of those drugs would be restricted to non-public places, essentially the same as you see for tobacco now.

    Actually, public spaces is exactly where smokers congregate nowadays. It's quite a problem because their butts tend to end up in stormwater drains and hence the local marine environment. I don't like the idea of something as poisonous as nicotine building up in our marine environment, unintended consequences and all that.

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 528 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Mikaere Curtis,

    Turn up (for) the Bass

    ...because their butts tend to end up in stormwater drains and hence the local marine environment.

    Trout Stomach Contents-the Inside Story

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7943 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Cigarettes are commonly used by the weak

    Liked this bit in that link ;)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock,

    On the PAS System front page at the moment, there are adjacent threads, with the following titles:

    'People take drugs'
    'Some lines for Labour'

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Answer, obviously next titles down.
    ‘Too long, didn’t read, still sounds good'
    sorta,Coat got....

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to Sofie Bribiesca,

    'Too long, didn't read, still sounds good '

    Yeah, 'heads up for music!'

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca, in reply to Rich Lock,

    PAS front page often conjures up stories with it's titles.
    Yes call me shallow, small things...

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Richard Aston,

    Ritalin - a stimulant, the wee cousin of P .

    The biggest P taker I know was put on Ritalin when he was a kid. A lifetime of altered consciousness.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Young,

    Errr. I certainly think BZP should never have been criminalised and I have long supported decriminalisation of cannabis, albeit with age limits and bans on provision to people with schizophrenia (although in itself it isn't schizogenic, it can create such responses). However, I part company with portmanteau wholesale drug decriminalisation advocates over 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.

    As a category, "drugs' refers to a range of substances with a variety of biochemical and metabolic effects.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 568 posts Report Reply

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