Monday, 31 March 2008

Warning. Conspiracy theories ahead

I was thinking last night about drugs. Don't ask me why. I really, really couldn't tell you.

But I was, nonetheless, thinking. And this is where my thoughts ran:

Place all drugs, legal and illegal, prescription and recreational, on a continuum from downers to uppers - sedatives to stimulants.

With my limited knowledge of the subject, let's just divide them into major or minor, and we have this, from downers on the left, with only a sample selected because I can't be bothered being thorough:

Opiates - Marijuana/Valium - (Alcohol) - Caffeine/Nicotine - Speed/Cocaine.

Alcohol is in the middle for the simple reason that it has a contradictory effect - although a sedative, which gradually diminishes neural activity throughout the body until you die from not working any more, the effect is to make you stimulated and hyper. (Incidentally, never give caffeine to a drunk: The coffee accelerates the effect of the alcohol. Yes, all those ads about "You've had too much, how about a cup of coffee?" are really irresponsible).

Notice something? Discounting the stimulating fuckery of alcohol, all the legal recreational drugs are on the right. They're all stimulants. There is no single legal, recreational depressant/downer available in this society. Even Valium, the housewife's friend, is not immune: What's the cliche for taking Valium? "A cup of tea, a Bex, and a good lie down." You can't even take a sedative without taking a stimulant to counteract it.

Aren't we allowed to feel relaxed, happy, mellow and friendly? We're allowed to get beat-people-up wasted, we're allowed to get hyper, we're allowed to get jittery, but we're not actually allowed to mellow up. Maybe it will hurt productivity if people could relax on demand. So we get over-prescribed antidepressants (in the UK, physician's guidelines state that antidepressants should not be used for cases of mild depression), or run to potentially problematic herbal solutions like St John's Wort, which will interact with just about everything you get on prescription.

Picture this comparison: On the one hand, a pub full of ear-damaging noise, staggering idiots, vomit in the toilets, and spontaneous outbreaks of violence. On the other, a 19th century opium den full of barely animated corpses who lie there for a couple of hours, too spaced out to move let alone commit minor or major felonies, and then stumble home and sleep it off.

I know which one I'd prefer to live next door to.

When exactly do our drug policies start making sense?

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