In The War on Drugs – Are We Trying to Kill Drug Users?

Prison is not a particularly safe place to live. For newly freed inmates however, the streets are even more dangerous.

Australian researchers examined the mortality rate of newly released prisoners, looking at the risk of death during the first two weeks after release. They call it carnage. Newly released men are 29 times more likely that the general population to die during that first 2 weeks – women are 69 times more likely to die – 69 times more likely.

What’s killing them?

Drug overdoses mostly. It seems as though prison isn’t doing much to break long dormant opiate habits, and the newly released addicted are soon back to their old ways – minus any real tolerance for the drugs. They are shooting heroin, and what used to be a manageable dose is now a fatal dose, and that’s the end of that story. We think that a death sentence for non violent drug crimes is unreasonable – but what we give, when we sentence heroin addicts to prison – is pretty close to capital punishment anyway.

Read more about it in the February 2008 edition of the journal, "Addiction".

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Prison is not a particularly safe place to live. For newly freed inmates however, the streets are even more dangerous.

Australian researchers examined the mortality rate of newly released prisoners, looking at the risk of death during the first two weeks after release. They call it carnage. Newly released men are 29 times more likely that the general population to die during that first 2 weeks – women are 69 times more likely to die – 69 times more likely.

What’s killing them?

Drug overdoses mostly. It seems as though prison isn’t doing much to break long dormant opiate habits, and the newly released addicted are soon back to their old ways – minus any real tolerance for the drugs. They are shooting heroin, and what used to be a manageable dose is now a fatal dose, and that’s the end of that story. We think that a death sentence for non violent drug crimes is unreasonable – but what we give, when we sentence heroin addicts to prison – is pretty close to capital punishment anyway.

Read more about it in the February 2008 edition of the journal, "Addiction".

Jailed Monkeys Use More Cocaine

Monkeys in nicer cages use less cocaine than monkeys in standard cages. That’s one of the more interesting research findings coming out of Wake Forest University Medical School this month. 

Monkeys are used as a good predicative animal model for the administration of drugs in humans. Essentially, if monkeys like something, then we probably will too.

Researchers wondered what effect the monkey’s environment would have on their desire to self administer cocaine. They put some cocaine using monkeys in larger cages for three days and then gave them access to cocaine and food self administration – and the monkeys that were given access to larger (nicer) cages, administered less cocaine than the monkeys that didn’t get the upgrade.

The researchers stress that the environmental improvement was relatively minimal, and suspect that if the monkeys were given access to a larger cage, and also given interesting activities to do while in the cage, the decrease in cocaine self administration would be larger.

The human extrapolation suggests that environment plays a greater than previously thought of influence over drug use, and that people in more pleasant environments are likely better able to reduce their cocaine usage.

On the flip side, and not entirely surprisingly – monkeys that were subjected to three days of more stressful living, instead of more spacious accommodations, used more cocaine than before.

Hmm…

I wonder why putting people in small jail cells doesn’t seem to help them quit drugs very well?

Monkeys in nicer cages use less cocaine than monkeys in standard cages. That’s one of the more interesting research findings coming out of Wake Forest University Medical School this month. 

Monkeys are used as a good predicative animal model for the administration of drugs in humans. Essentially, if monkeys like something, then we probably will too.

Researchers wondered what effect the monkey’s environment would have on their desire to self administer cocaine. They put some cocaine using monkeys in larger cages for three days and then gave them access to cocaine and food self administration – and the monkeys that were given access to larger (nicer) cages, administered less cocaine than the monkeys that didn’t get the upgrade.

The researchers stress that the environmental improvement was relatively minimal, and suspect that if the monkeys were given access to a larger cage, and also given interesting activities to do while in the cage, the decrease in cocaine self administration would be larger.

The human extrapolation suggests that environment plays a greater than previously thought of influence over drug use, and that people in more pleasant environments are likely better able to reduce their cocaine usage.

On the flip side, and not entirely surprisingly – monkeys that were subjected to three days of more stressful living, instead of more spacious accommodations, used more cocaine than before.

Hmm…

I wonder why putting people in small jail cells doesn’t seem to help them quit drugs very well?

Here’s an oldie but a goody…stop the war on drugs with free drugs for all!

1. Buy the raw ingredients and make our own drugs!!!

Governments need to start the process out on the poppy fields of Myanmar and Afghanistan and in the Columbian coca plantations, with massive investments into the infrastructure of the precursors to drugs of abuse. In one fell swoop, by becoming a legitimate, well funded and motivated buyer; you could eliminate the power of militant drug factions and end the profiteering of military based and terrorist organizations funding arms projects through drug sales.

We could also get enough of the medical drug precursors for legitimate usages, and as we burn poppy fields in Pakistan, we also suffer through a real medical shortage of morphine based derivatives…crazy!

Fill a few cargo planes and get this stuff into laboratories throughout America, where we could make high grade drugs of standardized purity, and with no harmful additives.

2. Give it away for free…or at least pretty cheaply!

The high street costs of drugs come from the profiteering of a series of middle men along the way to the consumer, and if government legitimately purchased and manufactured common drugs of abuse, the production costs per dosage would be laughably small.

Give addicts that need them the drugs they’re going to take anyways, and provide drugs of a known standard of purity and without harmful additives to addicts at a price that doesn’t require of them to rob convenience stores or mug old ladies to get their needed fix. Drugs will be issued in small and controlled quantities, and addicts will need to register for programs to get involved.

It won’t be too tough to participate though, as the whole point of the program requires inclusivity of access, but neither will government be supplying recreational drugs to high school students looking for a buzz!

Overnight, the criminal drugs industry would disappear, and with it an enormous legacy of crime and urban violence. Selling drugs would immediately become unprofitable and neither would desperate addicts be forced to commit crimes or prostitute themselves to earn drug money.

Countries that have implemented free drugs programs do not see a massive influx in numbers of users, but they do see a great reduction in crime and associated social problems.

3. Work with addicts towards treatment and sobriety

When addicts are full and voluntary participants in non punitive governmental programs for illicit drugs we have a fantastic opportunity to effect real and substantial change.

Firstly, by giving drugs of a known quality and potency, and in limited (observed?) quantities, you greatly lower the risks of fatal or harmful overdoses. Secondly, addicts already participating in the program can be better encouraged to participate in accompanying therapies, drug education seminars and other medical peripheral programs. We can get these people healthier, we can keep them safer, and we can try to get them off drugs completely…and all while we do real societal good.

No one wants to be a drug addict

The idea that by giving out free or affordable drugs to addicts that we would create ever greater numbers of addicts is laughable. No one wants to become an addict, and those people who do end up dependent on drugs need our help and treatment rather than our scorn and sanction.

The enforcement of anti drug policies has ruined entire communities, has enriched overseas and local criminals, and has provided billions of dollars in funding to groups hostile to the United States. With one easy move we could change all of this, and have a better opportunity to reduce the number of addicts as we improve their health and reduce risk behaviors (sharing needles, prostitution).

The reason that this is an oldie though is that the political will to even suggest policies perceived as favorable or "soft" on drugs simply does not exist within the conservative drug climate of our nation; and as such we are sure to endure many more years of faulty drug policies that do far more harm than good, and squander opportunities for real societal change.

Write your elected leaders with and tell them you want free heroin…who knows, after they stop laughing they might even think about it.

1. Buy the raw ingredients and make our own drugs!!!

Governments need to start the process out on the poppy fields of Myanmar and Afghanistan and in the Columbian coca plantations, with massive investments into the infrastructure of the precursors to drugs of abuse. In one fell swoop, by becoming a legitimate, well funded and motivated buyer; you could eliminate the power of militant drug factions and end the profiteering of military based and terrorist organizations funding arms projects through drug sales.

We could also get enough of the medical drug precursors for legitimate usages, and as we burn poppy fields in Pakistan, we also suffer through a real medical shortage of morphine based derivatives…crazy!

Fill a few cargo planes and get this stuff into laboratories throughout America, where we could make high grade drugs of standardized purity, and with no harmful additives.

2. Give it away for free…or at least pretty cheaply!

The high street costs of drugs come from the profiteering of a series of middle men along the way to the consumer, and if government legitimately purchased and manufactured common drugs of abuse, the production costs per dosage would be laughably small.

Give addicts that need them the drugs they’re going to take anyways, and provide drugs of a known standard of purity and without harmful additives to addicts at a price that doesn’t require of them to rob convenience stores or mug old ladies to get their needed fix. Drugs will be issued in small and controlled quantities, and addicts will need to register for programs to get involved.

It won’t be too tough to participate though, as the whole point of the program requires inclusivity of access, but neither will government be supplying recreational drugs to high school students looking for a buzz!

Overnight, the criminal drugs industry would disappear, and with it an enormous legacy of crime and urban violence. Selling drugs would immediately become unprofitable and neither would desperate addicts be forced to commit crimes or prostitute themselves to earn drug money.

Countries that have implemented free drugs programs do not see a massive influx in numbers of users, but they do see a great reduction in crime and associated social problems.

3. Work with addicts towards treatment and sobriety

When addicts are full and voluntary participants in non punitive governmental programs for illicit drugs we have a fantastic opportunity to effect real and substantial change.

Firstly, by giving drugs of a known quality and potency, and in limited (observed?) quantities, you greatly lower the risks of fatal or harmful overdoses. Secondly, addicts already participating in the program can be better encouraged to participate in accompanying therapies, drug education seminars and other medical peripheral programs. We can get these people healthier, we can keep them safer, and we can try to get them off drugs completely…and all while we do real societal good.

No one wants to be a drug addict

The idea that by giving out free or affordable drugs to addicts that we would create ever greater numbers of addicts is laughable. No one wants to become an addict, and those people who do end up dependent on drugs need our help and treatment rather than our scorn and sanction.

The enforcement of anti drug policies has ruined entire communities, has enriched overseas and local criminals, and has provided billions of dollars in funding to groups hostile to the United States. With one easy move we could change all of this, and have a better opportunity to reduce the number of addicts as we improve their health and reduce risk behaviors (sharing needles, prostitution).

The reason that this is an oldie though is that the political will to even suggest policies perceived as favorable or "soft" on drugs simply does not exist within the conservative drug climate of our nation; and as such we are sure to endure many more years of faulty drug policies that do far more harm than good, and squander opportunities for real societal change.

Write your elected leaders with and tell them you want free heroin…who knows, after they stop laughing they might even think about it.