Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Ongoing MDMA hysteria

I just this absurd article about MDMA on a website called "The Conservative Voice."

You know, I consider myself a "conservative" person - I seek to conserve government influence, human freedom and dignity, and collective resources. At some point, the word "conservative" took on a different meaning, and its use in relation to drug policy varies wildly.
The National Institute of Drug Abuse issued its latest research report this year focusing on ecstasy abuse, citing that past-year use decreased from 3.2 million people over the age of 12 to 2.1 million. The same report said past-month users dropped by more than 200,000.
The article starts out by citing the National Institute of Drug Abuse, which to me is an inherently anti-conservative entity: Why does the government have an "institute" of drug abuse and how can we expect it will be truthful?

If we are to believe this report, it certainly runs counter to the (completely ridiculous) claim that independent research of MDMA will lead to increased use of it, since MAPS (probably my second-favorite DPR org) has been raising funds, conducting research, and getting great coverage of it, including a great Peter Jennings special which explored the subject in-depth in April of '04.

The second paragraph is just classic:
This is good news, but ecstasy (MDMA) abuse has spread to a wide range of other settings and demographic subgroups than just raves in the past few years. Despite growing evidence of its harmful effects, ecstasy still has a deceptive reputation as a “safe” drug among its abusers. The idea of just taking a pill with a design stamped on it makes it more attractive and appear less harmful. Additionally, popping a pill is more socially acceptable than snorting, smoking or injecting a drug.
Shameless but transparent editorializing mixed with sub-student newspaper writing and unsubstantiated hyperbole is a favorite cocktail of prohibitionists, but not usually conservatives. It's only the second paragraph and already they have given conservatism a bad name.

Is "popping a pill" more socially acceptable than smoking? I think not. It totally depends on the drugs in question, the setting, and the company. In general, popping pills of illicit drugs is much less socially acceptable than smoking cannabis or even tobacco.

I want to carry the last three paragraphs in full because together, they really do have comedic value:
There are other short-term effects of the drug such as impaired memory, difficulty processing information and trouble performing skilled activities such as motor vehicle operation. According to NIDA, ecstasy users report feeling anxiety, restlessness, irritability, sadness and depression in the week following moderate exposure to the drug.

Regular MDMA abusers demonstrate elevated levels of anxiety, impulsiveness, aggression, sleep disturbances, lack of appetite, and reduced interest in and pleasure from sex. The cycle of addiction continues by taking more of the same drug to escape the condition brought on by that drug, all the while causing more damage mentally and physically.

One former ecstasy user summed up the drug's effects oh him saying, "I felt so much emotional pain and was so depressed that I wanted to end my life and take all of the world's pain with me." The young man has since become drug-free, but not without help.
Again, lots of extreme information left completely unsubstantiated, unless you consider government propaganda to be substantiation.

The second of these paragraphs in particular demands laughter inclusive of spitting out whatever is in the subject's mouth. According to whom do regular MDMA "abusers" demonstrate these qualities? Are we still borrowing from NIDA? Do we care to quote some kind of study or paper, or is this still a part of the report on use?

And what is the obsession with connecting MDMA and sex? It becomes more of a crutch every time we hear about it. MDMA has never made me feel sexually aroused or even sexual. MDMA, to me, is a plutonic but euphoric experience. For what it's worth, I agree that something is fishy about MDMA in a spiritual sense - I think the euphoria may actually get in the way of discovery, but I have never heard anyone describe reduced interest or pleasure from sex as a result of MDMA.

The implication of the next sentence is that people use MDMA to escape this reduced interest and pleasure, and from there we might imply that MDMA is a sex drug, which of course is how it has been painted by people who fear it over the years.

The very last paragraph might be the most puzzling of all. Typos aside, it sounds like something Joe Biden would say, and he is an unabashed spineless liberal (and a jerk). Since when do conservatives rely on sob-story anecdotes from individuals who are clearly extreme cases?

And what's this? He needed help? Why didn't he pull himself up by his bootstraps? I'm all for drug treatment, but I don't have any interest in making the government a part of it. I think that the nationwide community of experienced drug users, in the absence of government influence, could provide all the drug treatment and guidance we need. The last paragraph seems to suggest that government "help" would be sound policy, although it's hard to tell.

Either way, this article deviates squarely from what I would consider conservative values. Does drug policy represent a divide in conservative thought?


800 pound gorilla said...

I'm sorry but you have to work at being an addict. There is no such thing as "instant addiction". And yes, as stated in my book "depicting atypical behaviors as typical" is the strategem for demonizing drugs and stigmatizing users. MDMA only becomes problematic for chronic users and/or abusers. We as a society instantly recognize this problem when it comes to medications and other socially used drugs like coffee and alcohol. Why is it that we have a double standard when it comes to arbitrarily banned and restricted drugs.

The reality is that all drugs are created equally dangerous. All drugs either stimulate or depress normal bodily functions. If they don't they're not drugs. Many natural herbs, foods and teas do the same; they should be considered as drugs - especially when their use is specifically to provide those benefits. Sometimes, when the body's natural functions interfere with healing drugs are a "necessary evil". This healing should occasionally include some inebriation or "escape". Any and all long-term healing comes from the body itself. No drug will ever do more for the body than the body itself. It's just a tool to enable the body's healing. I checked with pharmacists before I put this in the book. Every example of singlehanded healing they came up with had been personally disproved by my own experiences [fortunate happenstance]. BTW, you should be getting your information about drugs from pharmacists and doctors and not the NIDA. And pharmacists are hesitant to give out info on banned drugs. Because they are handled by criminals with no accountability - thank you drug czar - there is no reliable information available about what is in them and what they'll do.

The biggest factors in drug problems are one's own personal physiology and history of drug use. That's why the pharmaceuticals have replaced the list of side effects [what the drug does - "depicting the typical as atypical to sell"] - that vary widely - with list of other health conditions. Nearly all people in this country experiment with drugs continually. Every time you try a new drug you are experimenting. Sometimes this is done with a doctor's blessing. Sometimes a parent makes that decision for you. Many times that experimentation is done with peer pressure. A large part of workplace banter involves trading info on drug use along with recommendations.

Just remember: drug use is never a good long-term solution. That's why so much of my book has to do with strategies that don't involve drug use. The nation's number one problem - by far - is health related drug dependencies. This is not even mentioned in school texts. They are over 5 times more likely to happen, just as deadly, and last far longer than do those with arbitrarily banned and stigmatized drugs. I'm a big fitness fanatic. A lot of my problems as a teen abated when I started running. Despite over 30 years of continuous vigorous fitness regimen [aided by using a training log - that is downloadable at my book site www.originaldrugmanualforkids.com]I still got moderately severe asthma and am drug dependent. So much for stigmatizing people for drug dependencies!

My spouse, who is well educated worries about someone giving one of our children Ecstasy. Despite living with me, my spouse believes all this widely disseminated crap about instant addiction and death that is constantly aired about MDMA. It's not the drug that kills; it's the use of the drug to enable long-term sleep deprivation that wears down and destroys the body's defenses.

We don't teach the public about abuse. Go to any other site that comes in your websearch "drug abuse education" and they will list a small minority of the abusable drugs. If the drug is useful it can and will be abused. What makes the ban arbitrary is that they get banned only when the "wrong" people abuse them.

800 pound gorilla said...

BTW, I posted on their site about this article. I'm offering a thousand dollars of my money to the DEA if they ever defend the War on Drugs in a public debate forum. That's money that is currently burning a hole in my pocket and will never be shelled out to anyone.

Anonymous said...

You had a "plutonic" experience with Ecstasy? Do you mean that you visited the planet Pluto or that you were in Pluto's realm, the Underworld?

Anonymous said...

When are you all going to realize the government never lets fact or truth get in the way of anything.

I have another 1000 bucks to add to that DEA debate. I just want to ask how the public is safer letting out murderers and rapist child molesters out of jail to make space for manditory drug sentences. Please let me debate someone who insists the general public is better off without the working, tax paying pot smoker roaming free. After all it was the drugs that caused all the murders and sex crimes right.