Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: From Zero: The Meth Episode

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  • Mark Graham,

    The way it was reported on RNZ this morning made me think West Akl police are not going to prosecute low level dealing and use but I missed the offer of treatment.

    Russ - how do you think this changes the perception of meth? I always saw it as one of the truly evil drugs (never used, never exposed to it) with a genuine probability of addiction.

    Doesn't a softening of approach demonstrate yet again the folly of a 'Reefer Madness'-type demonisation of a recreational drug and therefore undermine any attempt at control as people realise they're being lied to again?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 217 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Mark Graham,

    The way it was reported on RNZ this morning made me think West Akl police are not going to prosecute low level dealing and use but I missed the offer of treatment.

    I think they overcooked the angle a little – what Stan Brown said was that they don’t necessarily prosecute small-time supply. I’m impressed by their willingness to have a relationship with these people, rather than just throwing them to the courts. There’s also the very practical dimension of the time and resources such prosecutions use up.

    I note in the episode that what this all leans toward is the decriminalisation through which Portugal turned around its terrible heroin problem. But you’re not going to get that at a legislative level – because politicians have to say that drugs are bad and the law will never change – so you’ll left with other parts of the system doing their best.

    Russ – how do you think this changes the perception of meth? I always saw it as one of the truly evil drugs (never used, never exposed to it) with a genuine probability of addiction.

    Doesn’t a softening of approach demonstrate yet again the folly of a ‘Reefer Madness’-type demonisation of a recreational drug and therefore undermine any attempt at control as people realise they’re being lied to again?

    I don’t think so. It’s a matter of doing what makes sense. Even describing it as “softening” frames it in an unhelpful way. It’s not about being hard or soft, but about doing the right thing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Farmer Green, in reply to Mark Graham,

    A drug is not evil: even methamphetamine has a very limited useful role in medicine.
    You make an important point about misinformation, particularly misinformation given to children , under the guise of drug education.
    Lying to children about anything simply leads to a generalised distrust of anything from the same source.

    Lower North Island • Since Nov 2012 • 778 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Farmer Green,

    A drug is not evil: even methamphetamine has a very limited useful role in medicine.

    Yes, I make that point in the episode: it's a chemical, no more innately evil than salt or water.

    Its medical use is, as you say, very limited now, largely because it's more neurotoxic than comparable amphetamines.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • SHG, in reply to Mark Graham,

    how do you think this changes the perception of meth? I always saw it as one of the truly evil drugs (never used, never exposed to it) with a genuine probability of addiction.

    used it, enjoyed it, didn't get addicted, cut it along with other luxuries during the great saving-for-a-house budget crunch of the early 2000s, the end.

    truly TEH EVIL!!1

    nup • Since Oct 2010 • 77 posts Report Reply

  • Rosemary McDonald, in reply to SHG,

    used it, enjoyed it, didn’t get addicted

    Waikato, or on the road • Since Apr 2014 • 1346 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    It's the 'Pill-Pressbyterians' vs 'The Meth-ODists'...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Could stay up all night drinking and never feel drunk, never felt violent tho and never wanted to go out, was quite happy where I was especially if at home. And that was my experience with it, which is in the past now.
    WWII both sides had their own variant, while I have heard hints of that no one has ever come out and said it.
    I look forward to the next episode with the PM, I hope he doesnt go on too much. He goes off song rather too easily, and is just plain silly mostly. And He's the PM...go figure...

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen R, in reply to andin,

    WWII both sides had their own variant, while I have heard hints of that no one has ever come out and said it.

    The Germans had Methamphetamines in the form of Pervitin and the US and UK were using Amphetamines (with brand name Benzedrine).
    I've heard it said that the first thing the Russian soldiers would do when they captured Germans was go through their pockets for Pervitin, because it was better than what they were issued.

    from a drug history site:

    Nicolas Rasmussen, “Medical Science and the Military: The Allies’ Use of Amphetamine During World War II,” Journal of Interdisciplinary History 42, no. 2 (2011): 205–233. Concludes that the “grounds on which amphetamine was actually adopted by both British and American militaries had less to do with the science of fatigue than with the drug’s mood-altering effects, as judged by military men. It increased confidence and aggression, and elevated ‘morale.'”

    and from http://hubpages.com/education/How-Drugs-Were-Used-During-World-War-2

    A brochure about the fatigue from the British Air Ministry printed in 1943 revealed, however, that there was knowledge about the cons of amphetamine:

    “Anyone who takes amphetamine feel that he has full control over the situation and that he can continue to perform his duties without rest, he finds that he can perform well, when in fact he makes all kinds of mistakes.”

    That seems to be the big trap - it makes you think you're in control...

    Wellington • Since Jul 2009 • 259 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to andin,

    Could stay up all night drinking and never feel drunk, never felt violent tho and never wanted to go out, was quite happy where I was especially if at home. And that was my experience with it, which is in the past now.

    Yeah, and there are plenty of people like you. But the overall rate and nature of problematic use is a real showstopper.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • william blake, in reply to andin,

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to william blake,

    The counterpoint to that interview, from the highly respected Richard J Evans:

    https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/16/blitzed-drugs-in-nazi-germany-by-norman-ohler-review

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

  • Rich of Observationz, in reply to ,

    Potassium ferrocyanide is your anti-caking agent - the CN is tightly bound to the Fe and doesn't disassociate in the body. An example of how similar substances can have widely different hazard categories.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    Further, the main pharmacological problem with methamphetamine is that, unlike most drugs (which burn when heated) it's smokable. Which gives a faster rush and more of a psychological problem. People (Hitler, pilots, schoolkids with ADHD) who confine themselves to ingestion or snorting have fewer problems witb it.

    The real problem, however, is that there are a lot of desperate, screwed up people around, who've often been socialised into violence. These people are susceptible to whatever substances work for them (alcohol, opiates, meth) and have consequent problems with their substance use. In societies with less social exclusion (northern Europe) meth is much less of a perceived problem. I'd also note that there are groups (such as gay men in the UK) for whom meth use is quite prevalent but who don't present the social problems seen in NZ - partly because they are less excluded and don't have a particular violence problem.

    We need to sort social exclusion and acceptability of violence in NZ, not try and patch the symptoms.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Brent Jackson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Yeah, and there are plenty of people like you. But the overall rate and nature of problematic use is a real showstopper.

    Like alcohol then ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 620 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    urther, the main pharmacological problem with methamphetamine is that, unlike most drugs (which burn when heated) it’s smokable. Which gives a faster rush and more of a psychological problem. People (Hitler, pilots, schoolkids with ADHD) who confine themselves to ingestion or snorting have fewer problems witb it.

    Yes, I cover that in the episode. I'm surprised more isn't made of it in drug treatment circles. The step-change when it became a glass pipe drug was the start of the real problems.

    The real problem, however, is that there are a lot of desperate, screwed up people around, who’ve often been socialised into violence.

    I had a couple of friends lose the plot with meth, neither of them were violent. But they definitely had a problem, to the extent that I actually had to ask them not to come around any more.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Brent Jackson,

    Like alcohol then …

    More addictive, more severe effects on both physical and mental health from sustained use. You can drink every day for decades. You can’t smoke meth every day for decades without serious consequences.

    This is not to dismiss the huge social harms of alcohol abuse, of course.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Wouldn’t that be contingent on your daily dosage? The consitution of the individual? Are we talking about a faint buzz or getting FUBAR? Due to its widespread usage isn’t it the case that we as a society are far more tolerant/ desensitised to the mental/physical health issues on those who drink daily over decades – evident in say our widespread acceptance (particularly by the media) of a politician’s “I can’t recall”? I can recall. As you said further up.

    it’s a chemical, no more innately evil than salt or water.

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • william blake, in reply to Rich Lock,

    Yes the godwinning of methamphetamine does need to be taken with a pinch of something, especially when the author contextualises his thesis with his own use of ecstasy and LSD. I do disagree with the antithesis of drug use absolving the nazis from responsibility of their actions. As said upthread, evil is not located in a chemical but in the individual, or in a social condition.

    If a culture is heading South morally then drugs that loosen people's grip on reason, or instill fear and paranoia, can only add fuel to that fire.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

  • andin, in reply to Russell Brown,

    But the overall rate and nature of problematic use is a real showstopper.

    I'm sure

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1890 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to ,

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to william blake,

    Yes the godwinning of methamphetamine does need to be taken with a pinch of something, especially when the author contextualises his thesis with his own use of ecstasy and LSD.

    This brings to mind the infamous 2002 study that claimed even controlled doses of MDMA were so neurotoxic that casual users were at risk of Parkinson's disease and other conditions.

    The study was later retracted after the researchers discovered they'd actually been subjecting lab monkeys' brains not to MDMA, but methaphetamine.

    The paper was kinda bullshitty in other ways too though.

    And it was around long enough to assist the passage of America's execrable RAVE Act.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22848 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov, in reply to ,

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to mark taslov,

    Alcohol is the solution:

    is ethylene related to ethyl alcohol ?
    wooden, er, wouldn't that make it a 'vinyl solution'?

    ...or is it a Godwin that blows nobody any good?

    gets coat and leaves... _

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7950 posts Report Reply

  • william blake, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Reducing Americans' Vulnerability to Ecstasy Act. RAVE Act, Proves crap research can be grow wings with a good acronym.

    Since Mar 2010 • 380 posts Report Reply

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