Gee, I need a drink (alcoholic of course)
March 18, 2004 1:51 PM   Subscribe

This just in: Sun rises in East Also, the WHO found that "dependence on alcohol and cigarettes has a much greater cost for societies than illegal drugs like cocaine and crack."
posted by soyjoy (17 comments total)
Cigarettes and alcohol are a lot easier to tax. Get with the program!

On a side note, I have had an interesting conversation with a WHO scientist on the subject of heroin. The suggestion was that a heroin addiction, if granted the guaranteed access to consistent source, allowed the user to function pretty much as normal, unlike an alcohol addiction. Therefore, heroin should be legal, if state controlled. Interestingly this same scientist is against the legalization of marijuana, whatever the possible medical benefits. Never quite understood that.
posted by arha at 2:32 PM on March 18, 2004

acute opiate abuse withdrawal is also, contrary to popular legend, far safer than acute alcohol abuse withdrawal. while involving horrible cramping, diaphoresis, debilitating nausea and other delights, it is hardly life-threatening. sudden withdrawal from alcohol can involve intense hallucination, psychotic behavior and deadly seizures. i'm not advocating opiate abuse, i'm just saying...
posted by quonsar at 2:46 PM on March 18, 2004

Quonsar, quite familiar with the withdrawal symptoms of opiate vs alcohol addiction, 2nd hand thankfully, just find the hypocrisy of the medical community interesting.
posted by arha at 3:03 PM on March 18, 2004

There are about 200 million illegal drugs users worldwide, or 3.4 percent of the world population, it said. Illegal drugs contributed 0.8 percent to global ill health in 2000, while alcohol accounted for 4.1 percent and cigarettes 4 percent.

This means absolutely nothing without knowing how many users of alcohol and cigarettes there are. In fact, since I'd guess that there are a lot more of them than illegal drug users, I'm surprised at how little damage the legal drugs do. I'm sure cyanide ingestion contributes very little to "global ill health" as well.
posted by transona5 at 3:24 PM on March 18, 2004

Nicotine is one of the most toxic substances known to man.
LD50 for heroin is 100 mg/kg, while it's just 50 mg/kg for nicotine (in rats).
posted by spazzm at 3:27 PM on March 18, 2004

So is this pro or con to the legalization of drugs? I seems to be con since legalized drugs cause more problems health wise. It only makes sense, legal drugs means wider use means more health impact.
posted by stbalbach at 3:34 PM on March 18, 2004

transona5: you feel "bizarrely compelled to defend: pharmaceutical companies"


Peoples atitude towards what what is ok and what is not ok when it comes to "drugs" is very interesting to me. I'd like to hear your views.
posted by arha at 3:36 PM on March 18, 2004

Okay, maybe not very toxic compared to stuff like Sarin, but still:
Given the choice between being injected with equal amounts of nicotine or plutonium-239, you might as well just toss a coin. (In German, could not find an english source. Sorry. The table halfway down is pretty interlingual anyway.)
posted by spazzm at 3:39 PM on March 18, 2004

It can also be seen as pro, since legalizing the drugs that are less harmful than the legal ones would give people a safe alternative.
posted by spazzm at 3:41 PM on March 18, 2004

Peoples atitude towards what what is ok and what is not ok when it comes to "drugs" is very interesting to me. I'd like to hear your views.

Well, I put that in my profile a while ago - basically, I think that there are a lot of legitimate reasons to be skeptical of the pharmaceutical companies, such as their financial interest in creating ongoing treatments rather than cures. But I also think that many people have a knee-jerk attitude that prescription drugs are evil and illegal drugs are ideologically pure. I'm being treated for ADD, and I often have to explain that Ritalin isn't a sedative that the establishment gives boys to make them more like girls - it's a stimulant. Sorry to get off-topic.
posted by transona5 at 3:48 PM on March 18, 2004

illegal drugs arent being kept illegal because they're more unhealthy than legals drugs.

the right doesnt give a crap about our health.

theyre being kept illegal because it's the easiest way to keep the uneducated and poor uneducated and poor.

and away from their daughters.

and their sons' jobs.

posted by tsarfan at 3:59 PM on March 18, 2004

spazzm: drugs are a freaking minefield. My very conservative but competitive mother took "dexedrine" in the sixties to help her study. Decades later I take "dexedrine" and go to a dance party.

Same substance, very diferent social connotations..

transona5 : Thank you for your honest answer.
posted by arha at 4:05 PM on March 18, 2004

> "dependence on alcohol and cigarettes has a much greater cost for societies
> than illegal drugs like cocaine and crack."

So make alcohol and cigarettes illegal too. Mefi needs an [obvious] tag.
posted by jfuller at 5:40 PM on March 18, 2004

Yeah - this argument always seems to make the opposite point of the person who posits it. The pro-legalization person claims that cigs & booze are worse for the world than illegal drugs, which only seems to indicate that prohibition is keeping the more dangerous drugs off to the fringes.
posted by jonson at 6:59 PM on March 18, 2004

theyre being kept illegal because it's the easiest way to keep the uneducated and poor uneducated and poor.

tsarfan, I realize you were being glib there, but this is the way a lot of people think, and I believe it's risky to see complex stuff like this as the result of conscious attempts to oppress. I think the oppression that comes with it is more of a side benefit, a welcome bonus, to those who maintain power through the situation. I

t seems to me that the stronger reason behind some drugs being illegal and others not is a combination of capital (which drugs were already controlled and distributable by whom when the 20th-century clampdown started) and type of mind-alteration. Alcohol, for example, has a tendency to make people violent and stupid, which threatens their neighbors and loved ones, but not the main power structure. Pot, to take probably the strongest counterexample, spurs a mental state where direct questioning of the power structure itself often arises. So despite all the other pros and cons, it must remain illegal.

Of course these are just two forces of many, but to me they seem to be the main factors.
posted by soyjoy at 7:40 AM on March 19, 2004

It's a good thing I quit smoking by picking up a crack habit. I feel safer now. *twitch*
posted by Dark Messiah at 8:45 AM on March 19, 2004

To adovcate outlawing cigarettes and booze is over-simplification of the issue. Not only does the government relinquish some control over distribution and generally having their proverbial Finger In The Pie once outlawing, but a major culture shift would be required. These regular accoutrements of Friday night debauchery suddenly becoming illegal is a very difficult thing for me to imagine, despite the fact that I don't smoke or drink. I can only imagine the reaction and thought process of those who do.

Also, I'd much rather have my local police force spending their time tracking down real criminals rather than busying themselves with those who are smoking and drinking. Wouldn't you?
posted by antifreez_ at 9:01 AM on March 19, 2004

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