Sue your dealer.
January 14, 2008 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Sandra Bergen sued her dealer after she suffered a heart attack and spent 11 days in a coma because of crystal meth. Her full website. What people think.
posted by gman (214 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Another crazy lawsuit in America Canada.
posted by smackfu at 12:07 PM on January 14, 2008


Oh, Canada! What are we going to do with you Canada?
posted by basicchannel at 12:09 PM on January 14, 2008


Just Say No!

it was that simple all along... Nancy nailed it!
posted by HuronBob at 12:11 PM on January 14, 2008


Does this mean that I can sue T-Ray and Lil'Wing&Biskit because their product failed to get me properly crunk?
posted by ColdChef at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2008 [7 favorites]


Look. I'm not a lawyer. But I get annoyed with this OUTRAGE about people suing one another.

From the article, it sounds like she won essentially because the defendant defaulted. And it doesn't sound completely unreasonable to me that if someone sells a drug (medicinal or otherwise) that has not been approved by the Canadian equivalent of the US FDA, then they hold some liability to the side effects of that drug.

We know crystal meth is bad, but it's unreasonable for everyone to know all of the side effects. That's why nations regulate drugs. If you sell drugs outside of that regulatory system, expect lawsuits when people are harmed...

PS: I haven't read much on her site because it hurts my eyes. Lawsuit pending.
posted by chasing at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2008 [5 favorites]


I love that this lawsuit was brought by a woman who can both bring it and write this:
Crystal meth had been in our community for quite some time before I ever tried it. The only thing I had heard about it was that it could burn holes in your lungs if you held it in, and that it was smoked off a light bulb.
Presumably she wouldn't have sued had she burned holes in her lungs?
posted by OmieWise at 12:12 PM on January 14, 2008


it doesn't sound completely unreasonable to me that if someone sells a drug (medicinal or otherwise) that has not been approved by the Canadian equivalent of the US FDA, then they hold some liability to the side effects of that drug.

Seriously? You think that someone illegally buying a drug of abuse from a drug dealer should then expect the legal system to protect them from their own choices and actions after the fact? If so, shouldn't she be prosecuted herself for admitting to buying and using meth?
posted by OmieWise at 12:15 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Forgive me, but I have a hard time working up sympathy for someone who deals meth.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:16 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


"Ms Bergen became addicted to drugs when she was 18, CTV news said. She overdosed in 2004 in the province of Saskatchewan shortly before her 20th birthday."

It's not like she was a newbie taking illicit drugs.
posted by ericb at 12:18 PM on January 14, 2008


I think this is brilliant. Think of all of the precautions that prescription drug makes have to take before they can sell anything. Side effects are listed, drug interactions tested, etc. And even if they do what they're supposed to do, they can still be sued for an unknown or unexpectedly sever side effect.

Why should drug dealers get to avoid product liability issues because they're choosing to break the law? One could argue that she assumed the risk by taking the drug, but the counterargument is that the dealer did not inform her of the risks, in particular because depending on how the drug was cut, the risk can vary.

Product liability suits are a great way to eliminate the dealer network and ultimately price the supply beyond anyone's limits to pay.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


This is inspiring. I'm going to sue my pot dealer to recover the cost of that pint of premium ice cream which I ingested that subsequently caused me to lose consciousness and miss most of the second half of the Cowboys/Giants game.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2008 [6 favorites]


If so, shouldn't she be prosecuted herself for admitting to buying and using meth?

That seems to be a separate question from whether she should be allowed to sue the dealer.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2008


OmieWise -- no, I don't. But on the flip side I believe that people who sell drugs (medicinal or otherwise) that they know to be harmful should be held liable to that harm. Or, at least, jointly liable.
posted by chasing at 12:19 PM on January 14, 2008


Next thing ya' know "Super-sized" teens will sue McDonald's for their obesity. Oh, wait. What?
posted by ericb at 12:23 PM on January 14, 2008


Product liability suits are a great way to eliminate the dealer network

Also a great way for the plaintiffs to find out what it feels like to get shot.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


The only thing I had heard about it was that it could burn holes in your lungs if you held it in, and that it was smoked off a light bulb.

Well gee, it sounds so delightful when you put it that way. And I'm sure the people in her community who've tried it are all walking examples of how great it is for you, so I can see why she'd be surprised. People on meth usually seem so together and all.
posted by miss lynnster at 12:24 PM on January 14, 2008


*Warning: This product has not been approved by the FDA. Use of this product has been associated with heart attacks, strokes, seizures and death. Pregnant or lactating women should consult a physician prior to use of this product. Discontinue use of this product and consult with a physician if any adverse reactions occur, including elevated heartbeats or changes in personality.
posted by caddis at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Western civilization jumps shark, film at 11.
posted by phaedon at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Seriously? You think that someone illegally buying a drug of abuse from a drug dealer should then expect the legal system to protect them from their own choices and actions after the fact? If so, shouldn't she be prosecuted herself for admitting to buying and using meth?
posted by OmieWise at 3:15 PM on January 14


The legal system isn't protecting her at all. Yes, she is admitting under oath that she took drugs and could be prosecuted criminally for that. But that is an entirely different and separate thing. On the one hand, the State can punish her from breaking the law, and the State can punish Dealer for breaking the law.

The civil suit is to compensate her for the very specific and definable harm that Dealer did to her.

In other words, the State is punishing him for harming the State, i.e. the society at large. The state is not going to punish him for hurting her.

I actually think a good idea would be for pharmaceutical companies to patent new an innovative psychedelics which would, of course, be immediately banned. LSD and Ecstasy were both once patented. Then, drug dealers who make and sell these psychedelics could be sued by the pharma companies for patent infringement. This way, pharma companies, and their shareholder could get rich from product they cannot and do not sell. Furthermore, these pharma companies would be insulated from product liability risks because they aren't making or selling the drugs in question.

This would have the benefit of (a) encouraging research into this area (always a good thing), (b) compensating them for their research investment, (c) discouraging illegal trade, and (d) ultimately focusing attention on the bizarre and often contradictory incentives that the drug criminalization has created.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


Forgive me, but I have a hard time working up sympathy for someone who deals meth.

Ditto someone who uses for years and then tried to make someone else pay when the consequences of their actions catch up with them.

The dealer certainly faces consequences, he can and should go to jail. I wouldn't be wondering about this woman's motives if she had worked with the police to put him there. As it is, her suing him is just another version of addict behavior. (Nothing I do is my fault or responsibility, the world owes me, poor me, pour me another, what's yours is mine if it helps me out, I'll kick tomorrow, etc.)
posted by OmieWise at 12:27 PM on January 14, 2008


I'm amazed that their is any debate about this. FYI, meth dealers are worse than the tobacco companies. At least the tobacco companies employ people and pay taxes.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:31 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


As it is, her suing him is just another version of addict behavior.

Same could be said about class action lawsuits from smokers. Why should cigarette companies be financially responsible for the side effects of their products?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:32 PM on January 14, 2008


Companies like Pfizer create drugs (for the phony maladies they concoct to sell you those drugs) that have more side effects than meth.

People are only pissed off at this woman because they didn't think of it first.
posted by wfc123 at 12:33 PM on January 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Parke-Davis' wonder drug in action is quite 'interesting'.
posted by gman at 12:34 PM on January 14, 2008


It's about fucking time somebody goes after people selling fake drugs. I hate that shit.
posted by empath at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


While the dealer enabled the user to harm herself, he did no actual harm.
posted by aerotive at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I don't see why the dealer didn't show up and fight it. The prosecution's only witness is a meth addict? Come on. That's just too easy.
posted by mullingitover at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2008


This way, pharma companies, and their shareholder could get rich from product they cannot and do not sell.

Big Pharma would probably be pretty averse to the negative press that would result. Patent infringement is an interesting idea, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:39 PM on January 14, 2008


blame canada!
posted by brandz at 12:41 PM on January 14, 2008


I actually think a good idea would be for pharmaceutical companies to patent new an innovative psychedelics which would, of course, be immediately banned. LSD and Ecstasy were both once patented. Then, drug dealers who make and sell these psychedelics could be sued by the pharma companies for patent infringement. This way, pharma companies, and their shareholder could get rich from product they cannot and do not sell.

Dude, are you on acid right now? How are the drug companies going to find out about patent infringement among dealers if the police can't even catch dealers now? How are imprisoned drug dealers going to be able to pay pharmaceutical lawsuits after all their money is confiscated by the state?

I'm all for researchers coming up with new psychedelic drugs, though.
posted by delmoi at 12:42 PM on January 14, 2008


Pastabagel writes "This would have the benefit of (a) encouraging research into this area (always a good thing), (b) compensating them for their research investment, (c) discouraging illegal trade, and (d) ultimately focusing attention on the bizarre and often contradictory incentives that the drug criminalization has created."

I think it would do two things:

1. become a cash cow for the patent holder through the court system
2. not affect the black market for illegal psychedelics in the least, the most popular one of which is psilocybin mushrooms, which can't be patented
posted by krinklyfig at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2008


Same could be said about class action lawsuits from smokers. Why should cigarette companies be financially responsible for the side effects of their products?

Umm, because they engaged in a massive conspiracy to cover up those side-effects and deny their existence?
posted by delmoi at 12:44 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


All I know is, meth is the worst thing on earth. Until you've been forced to live with someone on it, it's easy to laugh about and ridicule people on it. I wouldn't wish meth, or having to be around people on meth, on my worst enemy. It causes you to decompose while you're still alive; thank god I never became addicted to it, considering how long I was around it.

You can't reason with it; you can't stop people from doing it. Kudos to her for finding a way to move on with her life once she recovered. I can't say anything shitty about the lawsuit, either, because it wasn't an egregious sum of money and it probably barely covered the loss of her working for a year or so due to her medical complications.

Also, I read her site and it wasn't like she was doing it every day for two years, stealing from her parents, or prostituting herself for it. It was more or less the one time she did it after 8 months of being clean, and quite frankly, I feel sympathy for her.

Anyone who hasn't lived with an addict or been one can easily make offhanded comments about it; I certainly can't and won't.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:46 PM on January 14, 2008 [13 favorites]


This guy should have got a better attorney.n This would be a hella easy case to defend.
posted by dios at 12:46 PM on January 14, 2008


Companies like Pfizer create drugs (for the phony maladies they concoct to sell you those drugs) that have more side effects than meth.

I doubt very much that any of those drugs have side effects that are worse than meth's. And at one point the entire field of psychiatry was said to be "concocted". Isn't depression just sadness? Just get over it already! etc.

And while restless leg syndrome is the favorite target of the "invented" disease charge, note that the description includes:"The need to move is often accompanied by uncomfortable sensations. Some words used to describe these sensations include: creeping, itching, pulling, creepy-crawly, tugging, or gnawing."

I think if someone is experiencing those sensations, such as someone gnawing on their leg, you'd agree that there was a problem. This isn't for people who leg randomly kicks in the night, it's for people for who this problem is so severe it is disrupting their life.

And you to get any of these drugs, Pfizer had to spend about a billion dollars to research it, test it through multistage clinical trials, submit research and studies for peer review, get FDA approval, explain to doctors what it is and is not for so that the doctor can give you permission to go buy it from a state and federally regulated pharmacist.

Now compare that to getting crystal meth from Hitchy, Duke of the Trailer Park.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:48 PM on January 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Same could be said about class action lawsuits from smokers.

well, duh.
posted by jonmc at 12:50 PM on January 14, 2008


This guy should have got a better attorney.n This would be a hella easy case to defend.
posted by dios at 3:46 PM on January 14


Really? As someone pointed out all it takes is one deposition and he gives up his supplier and other customers. I think he'd be motivated to settle and keep his mouth shut.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:50 PM on January 14, 2008


Anyone who hasn't lived with an addict or been one can easily make offhanded comments about it; I certainly can't and won't.

Well, although not everyone seeks to validate their comments with reference to their personal lives, you seem to be assuming that people reacting negatively to this woman don't have (extensive) experience with addicts. I wonder how many you've talked to today, addicts that is. Just a superficial count puts me at 10 so far.

I don't discount the horror of meth, or the vileness of the dealers. This is not about that, although it certainly adds to the sympathy if one reads it that way. This is about a woman who should have known better than to start using a drug (it burns holes in your lungs!) who now wants financial compensation for having gotten into trouble while on it.
posted by OmieWise at 12:52 PM on January 14, 2008


2. not affect the black market for illegal psychedelics in the least, the most popular one of which is psilocybin mushrooms, which can't be patented
posted by krinklyfig at 3:43 PM on January 14


A good point. But the new stuff the eggheads are coming up with is way better...
posted by Pastabagel at 12:52 PM on January 14, 2008


Not that I would know.
posted by Pastabagel at 12:52 PM on January 14, 2008


This is not about that, although it certainly adds to the sympathy if one reads it that way. This is about a woman who should have known better than to start using a drug (it burns holes in your lungs!) who now wants financial compensation for having gotten into trouble while on it.
posted by OmieWise at 3:52 PM on January 14


Again, a fair point, but viewed from the dealer's perspective, should the dealer be immune from financial liability for profiting from the sale of a drug he knew was harmful?
posted by Pastabagel at 12:54 PM on January 14, 2008


Omiewise, I didn't mean to come off as self-righteous. I just feel sorry for her. It's just not something I can joke about. Sorry if I came off badly.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 12:54 PM on January 14, 2008


The civil suit is to compensate her for the very specific and definable harm that Dealer did to her. In other words, the State is punishing him for harming the State, i.e. the society at large. The state is not going to punish him for hurting her.


That's basically the opposite of the definition of civil lawsuits that I was taught in law class. Criminial charges are when the state attempts to stop someone from harming the state. Civil suits are between private individuals, and do not involve the state.

Also, please note that since this is in Canada, damages will be much smaller than in the USA, and have been limited by the Supreme Court (for ANY case) to something around $300,000.
posted by blue_beetle at 12:54 PM on January 14, 2008


We know crystal meth is bad, but it's unreasonable for everyone to know all of the side effects.

They don't need to. All they need to know is that the reason drugs are regulated is because they're deemed harmful. When you buy from your corner drug dealer rather than your local pharmacy, you're obviously aware that you're opting out of that regulatory system and consequently opting out of its protections.

Is contributory negligence not a concept known to the Canadian legal system?

FYI, meth dealers are worse than the tobacco companies.

Right. Because they're spending a fortune advertising and creating a demand where none hitherto exists, concealing research and denying the truely harmful effects, lobbying politicians to ensure continued legal availability and persuading the all manner of otherwise unwilling participants that meth is exactly what they need, aren't they?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:57 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Umm, because they engaged in a massive conspiracy to cover up those side-effects and deny their existence?

That's kind of my point, delmoi: there was public harm caused by cigarette companies, and that harm is why they are financially liable. But that observation has nothing to do with cigarette smokers being addicts, or whether a lawsuit from a smoker is "furthering addict behavior".
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:58 PM on January 14, 2008


Really? As someone pointed out all it takes is one deposition and he gives up his supplier and other customers. I think he'd be motivated to settle and keep his mouth shut.
posted by Pastabagel at 2:50 PM on January 14


Well, I realize in re-reading that this is Canada. So I can't really speak to that. But if this as in the US, this would be a hella easy case to defend. The client would be instructed to not answer any questions about suppliers and other customer on 5th Amendment grounds. And the case would be won on contributory negligence, assumption of risk, and a number of other defenses. Hypothetically, if you knew that stabbing yourself in the eye was a bad thing, and I happen to sell scissors for use in stabbing yourself, then you would be barred from recovery if you bought scissors and proceeded to stab your eyes out with them. The illegality of the transaction does not effect the tort law analysis beyond making the negligence at issue negligence per se.

I don't know what this particular jurisdiction in Canada recognizes in the way of affirmative defenses.
posted by dios at 1:01 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


This is an excellent idea.

I am totally going to sue the crap out of that crack whore who gave me herpes.
posted by flarbuse at 1:03 PM on January 14, 2008


If anyone didn't realize that cigarettes were bad for you and addictive (who the hell uses something non-addictive 20+ times a day for God's sake?), then maybe they're just plain stupid. And the same goes for tweakers. I'm a two-pack a day smoker and even I know that's wrong.
posted by jonmc at 1:04 PM on January 14, 2008


I have plenty of experience with addicts, and while I recognize that addiction is a disease, I also think that addicts are people who are very very good at not taking responsibility for their own bullshit.

I have sympathy for this woman, but exactly none for her case, which strikes me as a ludicrous variant of "My father's emotional coldness is why I was forced to become a coke addict, so it's not my fault!"
posted by thehmsbeagle at 1:06 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Although, upon further reading, one could construe the text of that website I linked above ("Some words used to describe these sensations include: creeping, itching, pulling, creepy-crawly, tugging, or gnawing.") as providing the potential patient with the right magic words to use at the doctor's office, which, when a doctor hears them will prompt them to prescribe the RLS drug of choice.

However, reading the wikipedia entry on RLS reveals that RLS may be caused or aggravated by many SSRI's and antipsychotics, including hits like Prozac, Paxil, and others, which were all the rage in the 90's while they were under patent. Now that many are coming off patent (such as the aformentioned prozac), one could argue that the RLS drug is any attempt to recapture with a new patented drug which cures an SSRI side effect some of the SSRI customers they lost when generic SSRI's became available.

That said, one should assume that anytime anyone sells you anything, they are going to screw you. This goes for the doctor (who gets calls and invitations to lunch from very attractive young drug reps who knows exactly how much he's prescribing of their new cash cow), big pharma (duh), and meth slinging Hitchy.

The solution is to adopt my personal philosophy "No Restitution, Only Vengeance."
posted by Pastabagel at 1:09 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I tried to sue my pot dealer for making me flaky, but I forgot what day the trial was and lost.
posted by Astro Zombie at 1:10 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Also, I've never met a street level dealers who had bigger assets than that day's supply, but perhaps these guys were the Mr. Bigs of the Canadian meth trade, selling directly to eighteen year old teenagers to cut out the middlemen?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:10 PM on January 14, 2008


I had the knee-jerk 'Frivolous waste of time/Whatever happened to personal responsibility?' reaction when I first heard the story, but it's hard for me to find fault with something that makes dealers more vulnerable.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:12 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


If anyone didn't realize that cigarettes were bad for you and addictive (who the hell uses something non-addictive 20+ times a day for God's sake?), then maybe they're just plain stupid.

Jonmc, no offense but you moron. no one knew that stuff back in the 1950s/60s when that stuff was discovered. The surgeon general was a smoker. In fact, Cigarettes were marketed, on television, as being healthy by doctors.

Expecting people in that time period to know that smoking was harmful would be like expecting them to know how to clone sheep.

And it was around that time that the cigarette companies started pushing back, making false claims like those being made about global warming now, etc.

(IIRC, anyway)
posted by delmoi at 1:14 PM on January 14, 2008


Jonmc, no offense but you moron. no one knew that stuff back in the 1950s/60s when that stuff was discovered.

Dude, it's fucking smoke, just how healthy could it have been? and like I said, nobody smokes two packs a day of something 'non-addictive.' It's not the goverments responsibility to protect you from yourself. Any alkies sued Anheuser-Busch lately?

(and I started smoking in the 1980's, knowing full well that it was bad for me, FwIW)

it's hard for me to find fault with something that makes dealers more vulnerable.


Drive the risk up, drive the price up, drive the crime that tweakers will have to engage in to get the cash to support their habit. Human beings want to get high on something. Send all the laws against that you want, but the supply will dry up when the demand dries up, not a moment before.
posted by jonmc at 1:20 PM on January 14, 2008


no one knew that stuff back in the 1950s/60s when that stuff was discovered.

King James I would disagree with you.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:21 PM on January 14, 2008


Alvy Ampersand writes " I had the knee-jerk 'Frivolous waste of time/Whatever happened to personal responsibility?' reaction when I first heard the story, but it's hard for me to find fault with something that makes dealers more vulnerable."

That's how we ended up with the Drug War: emotional reactions to social problems.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:23 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Unicorn on the cob -

I just feel sorry for her. It's just not something I can joke about. Sorry if I came off badly.

That's fine, of course, and people dismissing her out of hand or joking about it should also be sensitive to the fact that others may be more affected by this than they are, myself included.
posted by OmieWise at 1:24 PM on January 14, 2008


That's how we ended up with the Drug War: emotional reactions to social problems.

Sorta odd that I support decriminalization of most drug usage then, ain't it?
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 1:24 PM on January 14, 2008


King James I would disagree with you.

I read the wikipedia article as well. But King James wasn't a scientist.

Dude, it's fucking smoke, just how healthy could it have been?

Dude, lots of things seem obvious in retrospect, but were not obvious at the time just because it's "smoke" doesn't mean it would seem bad to someone who had no idea that it was bad.

Like I said, there were even TV ads saying that smoking (certain brands at least) was good for you, just the same we now have ads saying orange juice, milk, and Cheerios are good for you today. Even if it did seem intrinsically harmful, those TV ads would have done a lot to put people off that idea.

You just can't backtrack cultural assumptions of today to previous time periods.
posted by delmoi at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2008


miss lynnster: "The only thing I had heard about it was that it could burn holes in your lungs if you held it in, and that it was smoked off a light bulb.

Well gee, it sounds so delightful when you put it that way. And I'm sure the people in her community who've tried it are all walking examples of how great it is for you, so I can see why she'd be surprised. People on meth usually seem so together and all.
"

Meh... PCP people *really* have it together!
posted by symbioid at 1:29 PM on January 14, 2008


That's how we ended up with the Drug War: emotional reactions to social problems.

Human nature being what it is, we'll always have drug addiction. Perhaps this is a right step (among many possibilities) in the Drug War: not only have the State punish dealers both criminally and financially, but allow users to punish dealers financially.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:30 PM on January 14, 2008


I just noticed the "pastabagel" tag... I feel like I'm missing something there...
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 1:30 PM on January 14, 2008


The civil suit is to compensate her for the very specific and definable harm that Dealer did to her.

FYI, meth dealers are worse than the tobacco companies.

I think it's ridiculous for you to condemn a dealer on the perceived badness of the product he is selling. I think guns are bad. This doesn't mean I think that every time somebody shoots themselves in the leg that the gun company should be held accountable.

Enter the issue of product liability. If a gun was created with a safety to protect from accidental shootings, and that safety failed to operate correctly, then I could see that a case could be made against the manufacturer. However, in my opinion, there is a commonly accepted assumption that despite the short-term "high" of crystal meth, it will in fact fuck your life up and potentially put you in a hospital or institution. The correct use of crystal meth is, in and of itself, a liability.

Enter the illegality of crystal meth. I don't see how practically speaking this creates an undue burden on the dealer. Both the acts of selling and using meth are illegal. Look, I think it's a good idea to go after drug dealers. But my gut tells me Sandra Bergen, or possibly the people caring for her, are suffering from some kind of deep denial, and that somehow this has resulted in a misapplication of legal reasoning.
posted by phaedon at 1:31 PM on January 14, 2008


Alvy Ampersand writes "Sorta odd that I support decriminalization of most drug usage then, ain't it?"

It doesn't really matter. "Making dealers more vulnerable" isn't really a good way to look at the problem, IMO. The government tried to do that with tax stamps. When you try to apply regulation to a black market in order to curtail it, most people will probably ignore the regulations, just like they ignore the law. Also, liability involves civil law, which means the plaintiff will be a person or people, not the state - not many people are going to expose themselves and their criminal activity to try to win a civil suit against a dealer who has no assets.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:32 PM on January 14, 2008


Can I sue weak pot dealers for selling me shitty outdoor pot?
posted by porn in the woods at 1:41 PM on January 14, 2008


I filling out a civil suit against my dealer(s) now, and need a little help...
Anyone know the last name of Crazy Eyes? Is it "Eyes", or is that his middle name? And for last known address, can I just put down Washington square park?
Fu@& it, I'm going to taco bell.
posted by Crash at 1:42 PM on January 14, 2008


Perhaps he can pay off the judgment in free meth?
posted by klangklangston at 1:42 PM on January 14, 2008


Dude, lots of things seem obvious in retrospect, but were not obvious at the time just because it's "smoke" doesn't mean it would seem bad to someone who had no idea that it was bad.

I doubt even then that anybody would've gone to a house fire and inhaled the fumes. Why, because it's smoke. What we have is a case of mass denial.

Perhaps this is a right step (among many possibilities) in the Drug War: not only have the State punish dealers both criminally and financially, but allow users to punish dealers financially.

which is a cost they'll pass along to their already addicted customers.
posted by jonmc at 1:42 PM on January 14, 2008


Metafilter: who the hell uses something non-addictive 20+ times a day for God's sake?
posted by localhuman at 1:43 PM on January 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


it was smoked off a light bulb.

Seeing as how we've banned pseudophedrene [spelling?] in the US because it's used to make meth, and we ban pipes for smoking pot, shouldn't we ban light bulbs now, or at least invest in low-heat alternatives?

kidding, for those who have trouble telling

Dude, lots of things seem obvious in retrospect, but were not obvious at the time just because it's "smoke" doesn't mean it would seem bad to someone who had no idea that it was bad.

Indeed. Consider X-Rays, once thought harmless and commonly used to, among other things, make sure people's new shoes fit properly. Humans as a species are really good at seeing short-term consequences, but missing long-term ones.
posted by davejay at 1:47 PM on January 14, 2008


Oh, and that whole lead-in-paint and lead-in-gasoline thing.
posted by davejay at 1:47 PM on January 14, 2008


phaedon writes "However, in my opinion, there is a commonly accepted assumption that despite the short-term 'high' of crystal meth, it will in fact fuck your life up and potentially put you in a hospital or institution. The correct use of crystal meth is, in and of itself, a liability."

Methamphetamine is legally prescribed to millions of people for ADD and other problems. It's also given to fighter pilots as dextroamphetamine. Also, it's possible to use meth recreationally and not destroy your life (otherwise I wouldn't be here - alcohol was my real problem, not meth, though I've done my share), but the more you do and the longer you do it, the greater chance it will indeed screw a lot of things up. It's not something I recommend at all, but there is no need to make a false claim that any usage of meth will destroy everything in your life.
posted by krinklyfig at 1:48 PM on January 14, 2008


Is the legal meth made out of all the nasty things it's made out of when it's cooked in a shed or basement? Is legal meth more "healthy" than street meth? I'm honestly curious, not that I would ever try either.
posted by agregoli at 1:55 PM on January 14, 2008


That's how we ended up with the Drug War, drug addicts : emotional reactions to social problems.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 2:02 PM on January 14, 2008


why not? all the cool kids are doing it. what are you, chicken?
posted by jonmc at 2:03 PM on January 14, 2008


no one knew that stuff back in the 1950s/60s when that stuff was discovered.

This is bullshit, delmoi. Do you think people called cigarettes "coffin nails" because they thought you could drive them through wood with a hammer?
posted by Justinian at 2:03 PM on January 14, 2008


Can I sue weak pot dealers for selling me shitty outdoor pot?
posted by porn in the woods at 3:41 PM on January 14

Hmm. That would sound in contract and not tort, and unfortunately you can't sue for contracts when the agreements involve illegal activities. It would be interesting to apply the UCC Article 2 to the sale of schwag as breaching the implied warranty of merchantability. Alas, you would be unsuccessful due to the illegal nature of the transaction.

I filling out a civil suit against my dealer(s) now, and need a little help...
Anyone know the last name of Crazy Eyes? Is it "Eyes", or is that his middle name? And for last known address, can I just put down Washington square park?
Fu@& it, I'm going to taco bell.
posted by Crash at 3:42 PM on January 14


Just sue him as John Doe aka "Crazy Eyes" and serve him by publication. Problem solved! You can substitute his legal name for the assumed or fictitious name later. Enjoy Taco Bell!
posted by dios at 2:04 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


The Light Fantastic writes "That's how we ended up with the Drug War, drug addicts : emotional reactions to social problems."

Addiction is a product of human psychology and physiology. It's been around as long as humans have been around. Addiction also happens to other animals, many of which actively seek out altered states (such as elephants who will choose fermented fruit over fresh, in order to get drunk). Addiction won't disappear as a condition of humanity if we change certain conditions or laws.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:05 PM on January 14, 2008


Is legal meth more "healthy" than street meth? I'm honestly curious, not that I would ever try either.

Depends on the street meth but, in general, the old mom and pop bathroom shit probably had some junk in it that wouldn't do wonders for you. But because of all those great laws making it harder for you and me to get Sudafed (yay!), more of the meth in the USA now comes from Mexican drug cartels who make it in regular old laboratories. Because of those nanny state laws meant to "protect" us, meth is cheaper, stronger, and purer now.

The damage from methamphetamine doesn't mostly come from adulterants, it comes from the massive doses that addicts take and from the things they do to get money for the drugs. They don't take care of themselves, don't eat, don't exercise, engage in risky behavior, and sometimes in criminality.

But taking big doses of prescription desoxyn or adderall over a long period of time would fuck you up about as much as taking big doses of street meth in terms of effects on your body. Desoxyn and Adderall aren't different from street drugs, they're exactly the same. But they're (supposed to be) taken in measured, regulated doses.

Lots of people use their prescription ADHD drugs to get high, though. It's common.
posted by Justinian at 2:10 PM on January 14, 2008


Is legal meth more "healthy" than street meth?

Pure meth is pure meth no matter where it comes from. I don't think most street meth is remotely pure, though.

Legal meth isn't typically smoked or snorted, so you get lower doses on a slower release, which is much less dangerous.
posted by empath at 2:11 PM on January 14, 2008


She's an idiot. Enough said.
posted by bwg at 2:11 PM on January 14, 2008


agregoli writes "Is the legal meth made out of all the nasty things it's made out of when it's cooked in a shed or basement? Is legal meth more 'healthy' than street meth? I'm honestly curious, not that I would ever try either."

Of course, legal methamphetamine is pure and not made in a basement by someone trying to support their habit, so, yes, it doesn't contain the potential by-products found on the street. There are some varieties of street meth that are very pure and last much longer than the typical street speed, but they are usually very expensive. But it should be noted that using meth recreationally is not at all safe, even if it's the legal variety. It won't instantly turn you into a monster or anything silly like that, but if you do it enough for a sustained period, and repeat over and over, it will eventually make your life hell as well as those around you.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:14 PM on January 14, 2008


Thanks for the clarifications.
posted by agregoli at 2:14 PM on January 14, 2008


(I don't think it has to be noted that meth isn't safe to take recreationally - this poor girl tried it once, and she's lucky to be alive because of that one decision. If nothing else, this is a great cautionary tale about meth despite the lawsuit thingy-dingy issue.
posted by agregoli at 2:17 PM on January 14, 2008


I grew up near Marshaltown, IA, and remember working as a busboy in a diner. 4 out of the 8 waitresses were strung out. The frantic pace at which they worked, and the hideous pock marks on their faces are burned into my head.

The only thing I never understood about meth was how exactly you started using it. I mean there is NO mystique, no (that I know of) music/movie/tv show pushing it as anything but horrifying and destructive, and no party scene (again, that I know of). It just seems like the most desperate and pathetic thing you could possibly start doing. Unless you're born into a family of users, I don't see how you begin using....
posted by lattiboy at 2:20 PM on January 14, 2008


If it weren't for the 'lawsuit thingy-dingy issue,' this post wouldn't exist. Meth addiction is not new, someone suing their dealer is. I'm curious because I want to know if I can sue the nice man at the corner store for selling me coffee, ciggarettes, and beer.
posted by jonmc at 2:22 PM on January 14, 2008


INAL
posted by ogre at 2:23 PM on January 14, 2008


Unless you're born into a family of users, I don't see how you begin using....

There's a certain type of person who is always on the lookout for some kind of chemical lift, and with all the hype surrounding meth, tehy know it packs a serious lift, and addiction only serves as 'proof.'
posted by jonmc at 2:25 PM on January 14, 2008


As far as it being obvious that cigarettes would be bad for you...a whole generation of folks my dad's age smoked...part of being a WWII soldier, I guess. He was a smoker, a doctor, and all his doctor friends smoked. Than the Surgeon General's report of January, 1964, and they all quit. Their wives had a harder time quitting, though.
posted by kozad at 2:32 PM on January 14, 2008


If it weren't for the 'lawsuit thingy-dingy issue,' this post wouldn't exist. Meth addiction is not new, someone suing their dealer is.

Well, no shit, but my tangent wasn't talking about that directly. I stand by my statement that if one gets nothing else from this article (and frankly, I don't see any deep discussion of this beyond, "This is stupid,"), then it's at least a great cautionary tale.
posted by agregoli at 2:36 PM on January 14, 2008


"any" should be changed for "much." There are some people taking this legal issue seriously here.
posted by agregoli at 2:37 PM on January 14, 2008


lattiboy, it starts out like this:

You're at a party, drinkin hearty, someone passes out next to you, and you start drawing a penis on his face, cause hey, it's the funny right?
But then you start thinking, hey I've had more beers than this dude, I might pass out next, and then someone will be drawing a penis on MY face. I know, I'll take some meth and keep this party going.
That keeps you up for the rest of the night, but every time you start to get sleepy, you look over at the penis-face, and you look around at who's still awake...and who's about to start waking up, and you think, shit man, I REALLY can't fall asleep around these guys now, so you take another bump. Don't let them write on me. Gotta stay awake.
Or so I've heard.
posted by nomisxid at 2:38 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


this poor girl tried it once

RTFA. She'd been a regular user for many months. She claims she'd been clean for around eight months when she copped this time.

and she's lucky to be alive because of that one decision

Actually, the safety ratio for methamphetamine is between 10 and 20 times the effective dose. She must have smoked a rock the size of her head to get herself into that state.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:39 PM on January 14, 2008


I don't see any deep discussion of this beyond, "This is stupid,"

That's because that's all it deserves. Nancy Reagan aside, drug dealers don't make people addicts. People make themselves addicts. You are a drunk because you like to drink. You are a junkie because you like to shoot smack. You are a tweaker because you do meth. It's that simple. Dealers are no worse than the guy selling me beer and cigarettes at the store, just businessmen meeting a demand.
posted by jonmc at 2:41 PM on January 14, 2008


I doubt even then that anybody would've gone to a house fire and inhaled the fumes. Why, because it's smoke. What we have is a case of mass denial.

Well, if you fall into a lake and drown, it's no indication that drinking moderate amounts of water every day is also bad for you. By the same token, choking to death on house fire smoke is not an indication that smoking moderate amounts of tobacco are bad for you.
posted by delmoi at 2:42 PM on January 14, 2008


this poor girl tried it once

RTFA. She'd been a regular user for many months. She claims she'd been clean for around eight months when she copped this time.


Wow. I DID read the fucking article - did you? She states that she tried it once and was addicted. I made it clear that it was because of that one DECISION that she is lucky to be alive, not that one hit.

That's a nice opinion, jonmc, but it's not fact. People don't always make themselves into addicts. It's possible for certain people to be addicted to certain drugs instantly.
posted by agregoli at 2:43 PM on January 14, 2008



Also, meth is a party drug amongst gay men where it is used at clubs and seen as a sex enhancer (though you need Viagra with it if you take a lot).

And yeah, the scare stories that warn most people off are what attracts many addicts to the substance-- it must be really good if you will go through all that for it/ it must be really good because they want to scare you away from it so badly. "instantly addictive" and "like orgasm times 1000" are selling points to many. Of course, we also know that "instantly addictive" is a lie.

Suing dealers is simply stupid-- most of them are fellow addicts, trying to have enough to get high without having to hurt people, steal from them or prostitute themselves.

Whatever else you can say about drug dealers, their customers *aren't* "innocent victims"-- would you prefer addicts be muggers or burglars to support their habits?

Many dealers are not violent and they see themselves as providing a product that they themselves enjoy at a fair price. They don't "push"-- they don't have to. The product, if it's any good, sells itself.
posted by Maias at 2:44 PM on January 14, 2008


You know, I've smoked a lot of grass. O' Lord, I've popped a lot of pills, but I never touched nothin' that my spirit could kill.
You know, I've seen a lot of people walkin' 'round, with tombstones in their eyes.
But the pusher don't care, ah, if you live or if you die

God damn, I say The Pusher man

Well, now if I were the president of this land
You know, I'd declare total war on The Pusher man I'd cut him if he stands, and I'd shoot him if he'd run, yes I'd kill him with my Bible and my razor and my gun.*

I said God damn, God damn The Pusher man

(*also I’d sue him and bring all my shoes and glasses, so I have them.)
posted by Smedleyman at 2:44 PM on January 14, 2008


nomisxid writes "lattiboy, it starts out like this:"

That's about right for many people. Other people use it when studying for finals at a university, or to keep themselves awake to get housework done during a busy day. If that's all you do with it, then it's probably not going to be a problem, but some people are driven to it as a drug of choice and will quickly develop problems. Those are the ones to watch out for, because eventually they will get completely out of control with it, if they keep using. Not across the board, but people who like it a lot tend to have the worst problems with it, because they don't know when they've crossed the line.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:44 PM on January 14, 2008


And yeah, the scare stories that warn most people off are what attracts many addicts to the substance-- it must be really good if you will go through all that for it/ it must be really good because they want to scare you away from it so badly. "instantly addictive" and "like orgasm times 1000" are selling points to many. Of course, we also know that "instantly addictive" is a lie.

I never thought of it like that, but you're absolutely right. Sometimes the scariest thing to one person is the most fascinating thing to another.
posted by agregoli at 2:48 PM on January 14, 2008


Needlessly cheery anchor voice:

Common sense and personal responsibility were beaten, robbed, and shot execution-style today. Several billion bystanders in the area said, "I was so busy paying attention to my own things, I didn't get a look at who did it. Shame, though."

Film at 11.
posted by SaintCynr at 2:48 PM on January 14, 2008


Well, I've known three people who have gotten into meth heavily, though all have quit now, so maybe I can help a little with the "how do folks start?"

First off, crystal meth has been a club drug for a long time, along with freebasing coke. So one guy I know who got into it got into it because he was into having a lot of sex at clubs, and doing "circuit parties," which involved a lot of drugs and a lot of gay sex. He liked both, and was apparently pretty good at both, but after having a couple of bum trips (no pun intended) he gave it up and only does drugs like e and coke. I had some other friends who did meth with him once or twice, and really liked, you know, like the first four hours, and after that thought it was a drag.

Second, I knew a rural farmer who was a pot dealer in his spare time. Trying to keep a farm afloat, and already having a lot of rural drug connections, he went from smoking a little meth with his pot to smoking a lot of meth, to having a pretty amazingly shitty breakdown and giving up the meth.

Third, a guy I went to high school with who I used to sell pot to got into meth when he was working as a manager at a shitty mexican restaurant. He frequently needed to be able to close and then open the restaurant, and it fucked with his sleep schedule something fierce. So he started doing meth because it gave him a fuckload of energy to get his shit done, and stopped doing meth because it gave him three days of not sleeping and getting super paranoid. That's the only time I've ever been offered smokable meth—when he was getting rid of all of it and I was there to buy some pot. Few things are less likely to make you want to avoid a drug than a smelly, bloodshot meth head offering you their supply because they can't take it anymore.

But once you understand that it's speed and it's cheap, it's easy to understand why meth is attractive. I mean, hell, e is a methamphetamine, and it feels fucking amazing. And if you've done coke, and you hear meth is like coke, well, what the hell?

I will say, however, that none of these folks were ignorant of the dangers of the drug, they just all felt they could handle it. Which they did for a while. I've also known a fair number of people who have tried it once or twice, and thought it wasn't the thing for them, or wasn't fun enough to pursue more than occasionally.
posted by klangklangston at 2:50 PM on January 14, 2008


But because of all those great laws making it harder for you and me to get Sudafed (yay!), more of the meth in the USA now comes from Mexican drug cartels who make it in regular old laboratories. Because of those nanny state laws meant to "protect" us, meth is cheaper, stronger, and purer now.

Well, think about it. If meth is more pure now then before those laws went into effect, then they really are protecting people. On the other hand, they are protecting people from cheap bathtub Meth at the expense of cold sufferers.
posted by delmoi at 2:50 PM on January 14, 2008


She states that she tried it once and was addicted.

I know what she states. Forgive me for being somewhat more cautious than you are about the self-serving statements that people make during the prosecution of civil lawsuits.

Presumably you feel the same way about the sale and consumption of alcohol, as you'll find no shortage of people charged with drunk driving who'll make precisely the same sort of self-serving claim?

I made it clear that it was because of that one DECISION that she is lucky to be alive, not that one hit.

You wrote this:

"I don't think it has to be noted that meth isn't safe to take recreationally - this poor girl tried it once, and she's lucky to be alive because of that one decision."

What you believe constitutes clarity, doesn't.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 2:51 PM on January 14, 2008


Smedleyman writes "You know, I've smoked a lot of grass. O' Lord, I've popped a lot of pills, but I never touched nothin' that my spirit could kill."

That's a funny song to bring up here. It's a reference to heroin, not speed, although the pills he sings about probably are speed. So, if my interpretation is right, speed's OK, but don't get sucked into heroin. But there is also the corollary from the '70s, "Speed Kills."
posted by krinklyfig at 2:52 PM on January 14, 2008


It's possible for certain people to be addicted to certain drugs instantly.

Yes, and smoking reefers will cause you to murder your parents and be sold into slavery. Look, I know people love handwringing over this stuff, but handwringing is nothing but pity and as a wise man once said 'Pity is a polite form of loathing.' People stop using when they decide to stop using, period*, despite everybody's crusades, and this is coming from somebody who's abused his fair share of substances.

*or not. maybe nature wants us loaded. I know that going to work loaded was a lot more fun than going to work straight.
posted by jonmc at 2:54 PM on January 14, 2008


I know what she states. Forgive me for being somewhat more cautious than you are about the self-serving statements that people make during the prosecution of civil lawsuits.

I'm not sure why the hostility, but I've heard this from MANY people, certainly not all from people pursuing lawsuits. It's a fairly common thing to say, and I don't doubt it's veracity.

Presumably you feel the same way about the sale and consumption of alcohol, as you'll find no shortage of people charged with drunk driving who'll make precisely the same sort of self-serving claim?

I'm certain there ARE people who do start drinking, activate that addict part that they didn't know existed, and find it hard to stop. I have no idea what you're getting at about sale and consumption of alcohol, since that is currently legal and meth is illegal.

"I don't think it has to be noted that meth isn't safe to take recreationally - this poor girl tried it once, and she's lucky to be alive because of that one decision."

What you believe constitutes clarity, doesn't.


Uhhh, sorry? Still wondering why all the hostility because you read me wrong.
posted by agregoli at 2:55 PM on January 14, 2008


Yes, and smoking reefers will cause you to murder your parents and be sold into slavery.

Who made that claim?

Look, I know people love handwringing over this stuff, but handwringing is nothing but pity and as a wise man once said 'Pity is a polite form of loathing.' People stop using when they decide to stop using, period*, despite everybody's crusades, and this is coming from somebody who's abused his fair share of substances.

Who is handwringing? Because I have sympathy for someone who becomes addicted when they didn't expect to, I'm filled with pity for this girl?

I disagree that people stop using when they decide to stop - many do not decide to stop and need intensive help to get to a point where they could even THINK they COULD stop. I think you have a lot of ideas about addiction that don't really jive with the experience of many, many addicts (not drug users. Addicts.)
posted by agregoli at 2:58 PM on January 14, 2008


By the same token, choking to death on house fire smoke is not an indication that smoking moderate amounts of tobacco are bad for you.

Dude, there is no such thing as moderate tobacco use. Those 'occasional smokers' are people who like to play with lit cigarettes when they're drunk.
posted by jonmc at 2:59 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Because I have sympathy for someone who becomes addicted when they didn't expect to, I'm filled with pity for this girl?

Yes. Because anybody with an IQ higher than a houseplant or more than a minutes experience around mind-altering substances knows that this stuff is dangerous, so this girl knew what she was getting into, which is why we're mocking this lawsuit. You just seem to want to show what a swell person you are for feeling pity for her, which is the last thing she needs.
posted by jonmc at 3:02 PM on January 14, 2008


Because I have sympathy for someone who becomes addicted when they didn't expect to, I'm filled with pity for this girl?

Yes.


Except I'm not filled with pity for her, so your assumption is wrong.

Because anybody with an IQ higher than a houseplant or more than a minutes experience around mind-altering substances knows that this stuff is dangerous, so this girl knew what she was getting into, which is why we're mocking this lawsuit.

I haven't said one word about the lawsuit, yet you seem to assume I am for it. I am not for the lawsuit.

You just seem to want to show what a swell person you are for feeling pity for her, which is the last thing she needs.

I find that insulting. I haven't been going on and on about feeling pity for her. You are the one who is assuming I have huge emotions about this. YOUR intentions seem to be just about tearing me down, for what purpose, I cannot imagine. Do you feel cool being mean to people trying to participate in the discussion?
posted by agregoli at 3:06 PM on January 14, 2008


I don't feel pity for her, but I'm glad that she sued her dealer and won, even if by a technicality.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:09 PM on January 14, 2008


agregoli writes "I disagree that people stop using when they decide to stop - many do not decide to stop and need intensive help to get to a point where they could even THINK they COULD stop. I think you have a lot of ideas about addiction that don't really jive with the experience of many, many addicts (not drug users. Addicts.)"

Mmmm. Well, as an addict who has moved beyond his drug of choice, I can say I agree with jonmc more than I disagree. Some people will require help, but someone who is addicted will remain so unless and until that person decides they've had enough (many times this is when someone hits "rock bottom"). No amount of therapy will change an addict who doesn't want to quit. That person may need help once they make the decision, but the desire for change has to come from within, or it just won't happen.
posted by krinklyfig at 3:10 PM on January 14, 2008


Do you feel cool being mean to people trying to participate in the discussion?

No, I just find your ideas about this subject to be utterly clueless. and I call 'em like I see 'em.
posted by jonmc at 3:11 PM on January 14, 2008


krinklyfig, I was kind of trying to express the idea that many addicts don't wake up and say, "I'm going to quit." Some go into treatment involuntarily, as the result of being placed there by the legal system or waking up after an overdose and being sent there, etc. I agree with you that someone has to be determined not to do drugs again, but they might need help to get to that point of conviction.
posted by agregoli at 3:13 PM on January 14, 2008


Do you feel cool being mean to people trying to participate in the discussion?

No, I just find your ideas about this subject to be utterly clueless. and I call 'em like I see 'em.


Could you attack my ideas, then, and not my person? It's against the purpose of the site. I know you don't like me, but I haven't been rude to you in this thread.
posted by agregoli at 3:14 PM on January 14, 2008


Late to the thread. I assume it's the same crap that always ensues when non-lawyers try to discuss legal issues.

I'm assuming that the suit was a tort of negligence - that it was reasonably foreseeable that the quantity sold could give her a heart attack or put her into a coma, so the dealer's duty of care towards his customer was to take reasonable precautions to avoid such an eventuality. Seems to fit squarely with legal precedent.

(at least, in a general sense. i admit ignorance of the specific jurisdiction)
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:15 PM on January 14, 2008


yep, negligence. sounds about right. attempted defence / mitigation by a claim of contributory negligence on the plaintiff's part.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:20 PM on January 14, 2008


Could you attack my ideas, then, and not my person? It's against the purpose of the site. I know you don't like me,

I know you don't like me either, but that dosen't mean I'm wrong here. I did 7 months in AA. It didn't take ultimately [*tips back fourth 24ozer of the day*] but I heard some stuff that stuck with me. One guy in his qualification said 'you're not an alcoholic because mommy didn't love you enough. You're not an alcoholic because kids picked on you in school. you're an alcoholic because you don't like the way you feel when you're not drunk." That guy understood.
posted by jonmc at 3:20 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


...more of the meth in the USA now comes from Mexican drug cartels who make it in regular old laboratories.

Yep. Watch this PBS/Frontline documentary (available to view online) -- The Meth Epidemic regarding Mexican Meth.
posted by ericb at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2008


I'm sure the crack MeFi legal team will poke holes in this, but by this logic, if I'm involved in a car accident while doing 110 mph, I should be able to sue the automobile manufacturer for providing me with a vehicle capable of violating the speed limit, right?
posted by JaredSeth at 3:23 PM on January 14, 2008


...it was reasonably foreseeable that the quantity sold could give her a heart attack or put her into a coma, so the dealer's duty of care towards his customer was to take reasonable precautions to avoid such an eventuality

Do alcohol distilleries get sued when people hit LD50 on a bottle of high proof liquor, requiring hospitalization and ensuring some form of permanent of organ damage? What about lifetime drinkers and smokers who incur the cardiovascular damage leading to increased probability of stroke and heart attack, etc ad infinitum? Shouldn't the "dealers" have been able to take "reasonable precautions" to "avoid such an eventuality" in those cases?

I don't feel pity for her, but I'm glad that she sued her dealer and won, even if by a technicality.

Do gun manufacturers get sued when their firearms are utilized in criminal behavior resulting in negligent homicide?

Automobile manufacturers?

Or does the polarity become reversed when the substance and supply lines in question are "illegal"?
posted by prostyle at 3:27 PM on January 14, 2008


Agregoli, it's a myth that people get addicted by using a drug once. By definition, addiction is compulsive use despite negative consequences. You don't get a "habit" by doing something once-- again, by definition, a habit is a repeated behavior.

People may "fall in love" with a substance upon first use. I certainly felt that way about heroin. But I didn't become an addict until I had made many, many, many choices to continue to doing it. First once a week, then just on weekends, then on weekends plus monday and friday and so on...

There are also people-- healthier than I-- who upon having that "falling in love" experience say "That's so good I better never do it again."

Same experience, different response. Different repeated choices. You can't become an addict without making repeated choices to continue to use *long before* you are actually addicted.

This is part of what makes addiction hard to understand-- when does addiction come into play and start impairing choice? Some argue never-- that addicts go on choosing to use until the negatives *for them from inside their own heads* outweigh the positives. Some argue that addicts choice are pharmacologically impaired after certain brain changes have occurred.

But no legitimate addictions researcher argues that one time use of anything causes addiction.
posted by Maias at 3:27 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I know you don't like me either, but that dosen't mean I'm wrong here.

It also doesn't mean that my ideas don't have merit. But it seems like a lof of the time I address you in a thread, you attack me, personally. This hasn't been the first time, and I honestly can't see any reason for it.

I did 7 months in AA. It didn't take ultimately [*tips back fourth 24ozer of the day*] but I heard some stuff that stuck with me. One guy in his qualification said 'you're not an alcoholic because mommy didn't love you enough. You're not an alcoholic because kids picked on you in school. you're an alcoholic because you don't like the way you feel when you're not drunk." That guy understood.

That's great, and it's good to hear your personal experience. It's funny you assume I have zero personal experience with addiction.

While that guy had a fun soundbite, I don't agree that it sums up a perfect idea of addiction. There are many addictions, and many types of addicts and I find your painting of it far too simplistic - maybe a good way to explain your particular struggle, but it doesn't jive with many of the stories I've heard and been close to. That's all. I'm not discounting your experience just because we disagree on a point.
posted by agregoli at 3:28 PM on January 14, 2008


I disagree that people stop using when they decide to stop - many do not decide to stop and need intensive help to get to a point where they could even THINK they COULD stop.

When you're talking about people who've been using for ten, twenty years or more then it's not surprising that they'll have developed a range of cognitive errors about what's possible for them. However, those people tend to be the exception rather than the rule. Most people continue using because the benefits they get from their use outweigh the negative consequences. When that changes, the majority of addicts stop using without any treatment or outside help at all.

However, I'll concede drugs do have a tendency to make your idea of negative consequences a little more flexible the longer you use them for.

That wasn't the case with this kid. She was nineteen. She'd been using a couple of months. Mostly recreationally by the sound of it. Meth isn't like the classical model of addiction. There's no tolerance. No withdrawal syndrome. Stop using after a binge and you're back to baseline. And she hadn't used for eight months.

This kid made poor choices. As do we all. Unlike most of us though, she believes somebody else should carry the can for her bad choices, and failure to point that out simply legitimizes the ever-increasing tendency such people to seek to continue to avoid responsibility for their personal decisions.

Look at the recovery rates of MD's who get discovered some time. Over 75% of them stop using forever after a single treatment episode. Why? Because physicians realize pretty damn quick that the loss of that big fat salary isn't a price they're prepared to pay in order to continue using. The pharmacology of the different drugs doesn't appear to have any bearing whatsoever on their recovery rates.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:28 PM on January 14, 2008


Well, if you fall into a lake and drown, it's no indication that drinking moderate amounts of water every day is also bad for you.

Yeah, but pouring moderate amounts of water into your lungs daily probably is.

Meth is really popular around here, presumably because there is nothing else to do. That and people don't have the money for coke.
posted by fshgrl at 3:29 PM on January 14, 2008


Agregoli, it's a myth that people get addicted by using a drug once. By definition, addiction is compulsive use despite negative consequences. You don't get a "habit" by doing something once-- again, by definition, a habit is a repeated behavior.

It's not a myth in my experience. It's a myth if you extrapolate that ALL people who try a particular drug will be addicted by doing a drug once. By no means is that true. For some, a select few, it can be.

There are also people-- healthier than I-- who upon having that "falling in love" experience say "That's so good I better never do it again."Same experience, different response. Different repeated choices. You can't become an addict without making repeated choices to continue to use *long before* you are actually addicted.

This also seems to assume that all people react the same way - a blaming the addict mentality. If one person can stop, why can't another? Why can one walk away and the other can't? Well, people are different.

But no legitimate addictions researcher argues that one time use of anything causes addiction.

And I've seen many times that for all *practical purposes* one can be addicted after the first time. I'm a layperson, not a researcher.
posted by agregoli at 3:31 PM on January 14, 2008


Nice. As the legal system expands to cover more situations outside its traditional scope, I look forward to seeing lawsuits against bank employees who called the police instead of lying on the floor and counting to 100 like they promised, criminal organizations who failed to provide adequate 'protection' as their clients paid for, hired killers who failed to hide the evidence and got their clients in trouble, and shady businessmen who failed to pay a promised bribe in a timely fashion.
posted by sfenders at 3:33 PM on January 14, 2008


I'm assuming that the suit was a tort of negligence - that it was reasonably foreseeable that the quantity sold could give her a heart attack or put her into a coma, so the dealer's duty of care towards his customer was to take reasonable precautions to avoid such an eventuality. Seems to fit squarely with legal precedent.

A full bottle of scotch would be more than capable of inducing alcolol poisoning in me if I were to consume the whole thing at one sitting. Seems highly unlikely to me that such a case brought that substituted whisky for meth would succeed, regardless of jurisdiction.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 3:34 PM on January 14, 2008


I honestly can't see any reason for it.

Look at the patronizing tone in your second paragraph.

All personality conflicts aside, the crux of what the guy I quoted was saying is that it's you who decides to take another drink/snort/shot. And while just about everybody has 'mom didn't love me enough/kids picked on me," experiences (and I've had my share, but so has everybody), plenty of people manage to deal with that damage without destroying themselves with booze or dope. So what are we left with? If I had the ultimate answer to that I'd be thanking the Nobelk Academy, but my semi-informed opinion is this: there's a certain personality type that for chemical/physiological/psychological reasons is more prone to substance abuse than most, and the change almost always comes internally. Outside stimuli can offer oppotunity, but ultimately it's a personal decision.
posted by jonmc at 3:37 PM on January 14, 2008


agregoli: I think jonmc is probably harping on you too much but, speaking only for myself, I find myself rolling my eyes a little bit at some of what you're posting. Meth isn't a demon waiting to pounce and steal your self the first time you look at it funny. It's a drug. Like nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, alcohol, or cocaine. And like those drugs people sometimes fuck up their lives because they like it too much.

The reason meth has been so problematic over the last decade is because it is fun, cheap, and easy to obtain, not because it's somehow in a class by itself. But it doesn't magically grab hold of you and never let go until you are a hollow shell of your former self; people make a conscious choice to use it. They make a conscious choice to continue using it because they like it so much. And then, yes, they can get hooked on it and the choice becomes less conscious.

But this women isn't some poor sap who got tricked into something she didn't understand. She wasn't dragged into an alley and mugged. She made a choice. And another. And another. And some of these choices were very bad.

The bottom line is that if you use drugs to try and forget how unbearable your life is, you'll probably make it even more unbearable in the long run. She forgot this fact and it cost her, period.
posted by Justinian at 3:38 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Most of the people I know who started using meth started using it because E wasn't working any more, and it was cheap and easy to find.
posted by empath at 3:42 PM on January 14, 2008


Nice use of the Pastabagel tag.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:44 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


The insidious part about meth is that it doesn't fuck you up enough to make you non-functional. You can take it and party, or you can take it and clean the house, or you can take it and study or you can take it and go to work. In fact, not only can you do it, but for a lot of people, it helps them focus and get stuff done.

At first.

Then gradually the beneficial effects become less and less apparent, and the negative effects become more so. And most people don't notice the line until they are way, way over it.
posted by empath at 3:46 PM on January 14, 2008


Also, meth is a party drug amongst gay men where it is used at clubs and seen as a sex enhancer (though you need Viagra with it if you take a lot).

Yep. And with clouded judgment unsafe sex can enter the picture.

The article Gays' Use of Viagra and Methamphetamine Is Linked to Diseases references a San Francisco Department of Public Health study at the time. Follow-on study: Viagra, Methamphetamine, and HIV Risk [PDF].

FWIW: two friends have died due to meth taking over their lives and destroying their spirit and their health. A third has sero-converted; has lost everything (i.e. home, job, dignity) and has cut himself off from family and friends who offer him support.
posted by ericb at 3:50 PM on January 14, 2008


Re: alcohol, cigarettes, fast cars & liability.

Class action cases against tobacco companies are indeed threatening to kill the entire industry, despite its enormous bucket of lobbying dollars. Smoke-free workplaces & bars would not exist today if it weren't for class actions by second-hand smokers, too.

Alcohol, to my knowledge, has not been subjected to similar kinds of actions. That's a bit of a double standard, I think. Nevertheless, if I encouraged somebody to drink a couple of bottles of spirits in a short time, I could expect to be held liable for their death, either through criminal or civil negligence.

As for fast cars, there's certainly been talk that dealers should be held liable for selling top-end sports cars to inexperienced young drivers who then go and kill themselves on the road, so it's not such a fanciful situation as people may think.

I guess that public policy questions enter the thinking of judges (and juries) in these matters, whereby cars & alcohol are seen as good (but not in combination!) things with unfortunately risky aspects that responsible people can control. The scales have shifted against tobacco due to its addictive nature, and maybe alcohol has escaped so far because it's not addictive for all, and seen to be a psychological addiction for alcoholics, whereas nicotine is a clear physical addiction, with psychological elements. As for fast cars, you can't really say that speed is necessarily addictive, although it's plausible enough to argue that you can reasonably foresee a testosterone-laden youth with no driving experience is effectively handling a loaded gun if you give him access to a supercar.
posted by UbuRoivas at 3:55 PM on January 14, 2008


Dude, it's fucking smoke, just how healthy could it have been?

Dude, lots of things seem obvious in retrospect, but were not obvious at the time just because it's "smoke" doesn't mean it would seem bad to someone who had no idea that it was bad.

Like I said, there were even TV ads saying that smoking (certain brands at least) was good for you, just the same we now have ads saying orange juice, milk, and Cheerios are good for you today. Even if it did seem intrinsically harmful, those TV ads would have done a lot to put people off that idea.

You just can't backtrack cultural assumptions of today to previous time periods.


But that's exactly what you're doing in this post- your cultural assumption is that people didn't know that tobacco was harmful in the 50's and 60's. How do you know that? You don't, you're making an assumption. From the tobacco risk awareness timeline: (HTML from PDF)

1699
“Who is the rash man that first tasted a poison that is more dangerous than hemlock, deadlier than opium? When he opened his snuff box, did he not know he was opening Pandora’s Box, from which would spring a thousand ills, one worse than another?…All other pleasures bring satiety, which weakens their ill effects; tobacco alone becomes a fatal, insatiable necessity,” declares Fagan, Court Physician to King Edward XIV. (Egon C. Corti, A History of Smoking, London: George Harrap, 1931, pp. 185-186.)


1912
Referring to recent scientific research, Harper’s Weekly reports: “Pipe smoke was less dangerous than cigarette smoke because the former was not inhaled and reporting methods then under study to modify the suspected hazards of cigarette smoking, included filters made from porous cellulose and steeping tobacco leaves…Continuing concern was voiced in many quarters over the effects of burned cigarette paper and traces of arsenic and other compounds found in smoke that in sufficient quantity were undeniably deadly.” (Richard Kluger, Ashes To Ashes, New York, Vintage Books, 1996, p. 40.)
posted by oneirodynia at 3:55 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


It blows my mind that methafilter.com is still available. Carry on.
posted by phaedon at 3:58 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


fandango_matt: we're more or less saying the same thing, just using different terminology. I'm just saying that the cure for the disease usually comes from within, not without.
posted by jonmc at 3:59 PM on January 14, 2008


Yeah, and more to the point, the way the diseases of addiction work is by acclimating your brain chemistry to associate a chemical with pleasure. Drugs do literally rewrite your brain to want them.

As for agency versus addiction, the statement about it being choice is often more helpful for people around addicts than it is for addicts. It's an impulse that has a much weaker veto in brains prone to addiction, and it's something that's constantly having to be vetoed. That's why it helps so much to get out of an environment where your substance of choice is plentiful.

"Dude, there is no such thing as moderate tobacco use. Those 'occasional smokers' are people who like to play with lit cigarettes when they're drunk."

Ah, c'mon, I enjoy an occasional cigarette or cigar—when I'm drunk or after sex or a meal. But I only ever need one or two, and after a night where I'm smoking, I ALWAYS feel like absolute shit (arguably due to the high correlation of alcohol abuse).
posted by klangklangston at 4:08 PM on January 14, 2008


Jon: Re saying the same thing: You may be, but you're being a dick to agregoli.
posted by klangklangston at 4:10 PM on January 14, 2008


"How are the drug companies going to find out about patent infringement among dealers if the police can't even catch dealers now?"

What makes you think the police want to catch dealers? They seem to be quite happy enough to keep busting users.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 4:10 PM on January 14, 2008


Ah, c'mon, I enjoy an occasional cigarette or cigar—when I'm drunk or after sex or a meal. But I only ever need one or two, and after a night where I'm smoking, I ALWAYS feel like absolute shit (arguably due to the high correlation of alcohol abuse).

You just made my point for me, and I'll bet anything you don't really inhale them, just fiddle around with them.
posted by jonmc at 4:10 PM on January 14, 2008


maybe alcohol has escaped so far because it's not addictive for all, and seen to be a psychological addiction for alcoholics

Amphetamines actually don't cause physical withdrawal, but people who sell them get sanctions, whereas alcohol, which causes proper physical withdrawal (to the extent of seizures and possibly death), and causes brain and liver damage gets a free pass?

Good illustration of how legal decisions tend to be based on prejudice and ignorance rather than science and rationality though.

Doctors have long agreed that addiction is a disease

They really haven't. Some doctors believe that the disease model is a useful way to think about the phenomenae of compulsive and self-destructive drug use. Others disagree strenuously. All of the intelligent ones recognize it's just a model though -- a way of viewing the problem. If an expert consensus exists, its the view that drug dependence is a problem with social, psychological and medical aspects, any one, or several of which, may predominate.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:13 PM on January 14, 2008


Then again, as Redd Foxx said "All those health nuts are gonna feel real stupid sitting in the old folks' home dying from nothing," so maybe everybody should go right ahead and indulge.
posted by jonmc at 4:14 PM on January 14, 2008


As the legal system expands to cover more situations outside its traditional scope, I look forward to seeing lawsuits against

slippery slopes and other faulty metaphors.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:18 PM on January 14, 2008


krinklyfig - yeah. And the irony of being able to ‘handle’ whatever one’s drug of choice is while denouncing something / someone elses. Nice interpretation.

All that stuff scares the crap out of me. I drank too much once, got the dry heaves, never drank that much again. I can only imagine a meth or coke or heroin addiction.
I mean, I have huge balls (huevos giganticos), but in no way do I think I can handle any of that stuff.
Amazing that some people do (and buy in to being able to deal with something that first attacks your judgement).
Don’t folks notice that you feel differently about, say, someone who gives you an orgasm?
Substances seem far more amenable to self-delusion.
“Dude, heroin isn’t a bitch. You just haven’t gotten to know heroin. The real heroin I mean. I know she stole your car and all. And your stereo and stuff, but look...” etc.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:22 PM on January 14, 2008


jonmc: Nancy Reagan aside, drug dealers don't make people addicts. People make themselves addicts. You are a drunk because you like to drink. You are a junkie because you like to shoot smack. You are a tweaker because you do meth. It's that simple. Dealers are no worse than the guy selling me beer and cigarettes at the store, just businessmen meeting a demand... anybody with an IQ higher than a houseplant or more than a minutes experience around mind-altering substances knows that this stuff is dangerous, so this girl knew what she was getting into, which is why we're mocking this lawsuit. You just seem to want to show what a swell person you are for feeling pity for her, which is the last thing she needs.

Justinian: Meth isn't a demon waiting to pounce and steal your self the first time you look at it funny. It's a drug. Like nicotine, valium, vicodin, marijuana, ecstasy, alcohol, or cocaine. And like those drugs people sometimes fuck up their lives because they like it too much... But this women isn't some poor sap who got tricked into something she didn't understand. She wasn't dragged into an alley and mugged. She made a choice. And another. And another. And some of these choices were very bad.

As freeing as it may feel to say that we make our own choices and the consequences are our just reward, none of us is absolutely free. Society connects people. Personal responsibility is real, but so is the large impact that the people and things around us have on us, and it's a fantasy to think that anyone, much less a child or a person who's never had much friendship or welcoming into the society of human beings, can walk down the street, step over homeless guys, listen to their catty friends talk, feel the dispair and watch the enjoyment people get from meth, and not get affected by all of it. Bluntly put: it is a myth that we are entirely responsible for our own feelings and sensations, and those among us who have built a certain amount of control for themselves are luckier than most. "Anybody with an IQ higher than a houseplant or more than a minutes experience around mind-altering substances knows that this stuff is dangerous?" Sure, maybe. But what about the stupid people? What about the unexperienced? Are they the detritus of society that we don't give a fuck about? And who among us understands and foresees the impact of every decision we make?

Moreover, contrary to popular belief, we aren't ethically fine so long as we mind our own business and don't hurt anybody else. We have a real responsibility to the people around us, the people whose very existence are the reason we can live and breathe and be. And it's not just a business transaction, any more than it's just a business transaction when a sleazy record label 'just follows the terms of the contract' or a mortgage company forecloses on a family because of the bottom line. Selling guns is regulated, because it's a trade that, if done badly, might lead to a lot of people getting hurt. Some people say that that's silly, because it's certainly not the gun dealers who hurt the people most of the time. Still, even if it's not, we have a responsibility to do right by people so far as we can see how to.
posted by koeselitz at 4:28 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


It seems that every day something comes up that makes me hate humanity just a little bit more. I think I'll wreak my revenge on it by buying a firearm, shooting myself in the foot and then suing the store I bought it from because they shouldn't have sold it to me.
posted by clevershark at 4:31 PM on January 14, 2008


"You just made my point for me, and I'll bet anything you don't really inhale them, just fiddle around with them."

Nah, I inhale 'em. I did a stint as a "serious smoker" right after high school, and got up to smoking a pack a shift. But once I got fired from that job, I was poor and relieved and just kinda quit cold turkey. Since then, I can knock back a cigarette now and then and enjoy it, but I don't feel the need to smoke like the bus is coming anymore.
posted by klangklangston at 4:36 PM on January 14, 2008


What was that old saying? About making right, and using two wrongs to do it?
posted by koeselitz at 4:36 PM on January 14, 2008


Not unless you're retracting your earlier statements that addiction to alcohol and drugs are personal choices people make.

Having the personality type is not a choice. Using the substance and/or continuing to use it is a choice (not an easy choice, otherwise there'd be no addicts, but a choice nonetheless).

klang, my friend, you may be the exception to the rule. I started smoking around age 14 and was up to a pack a day by the time I finished high school. I quit for 8 months about 5 years ago and then I was in a bar on St. Paddy's day and I'd had a few (this was hen you could smoke in abar in NYC) and the woman next to me was smoking and I said "could I have one of those?" She gave me one and it was like a fucking orgasm, man.
posted by jonmc at 4:43 PM on January 14, 2008


Yeah, when it comes to booze, I worry about becoming an addict. When it comes to tobacco, it just hasn't taken again. I think fundamentally that it's one of those areas where my extreme cheapness keeps me more safe than some other folks—I like tobacco, I like the buzz, I like that it helps me deal with my ADD, I like the way it tastes and how it feels in my lungs and mouth, but goddamn, I just can't see shelling out for it when I can get booze instead (or pot). I figured out once what the pot to cigarette dollar ratio was for me, and I just end up high instead. (That might be the other part of it—I get high all the time, so my physical smoking habit is satiated).

What I really love are cigarettes with hash in 'em, loose-rolled, but that's a habit that I only managed to maintain for a couple weeks in Europe.
posted by klangklangston at 4:53 PM on January 14, 2008


Thanks to Carroll O'Connor of all people, civil remedies have been available in many states since 1997 via the Drug Dealer Civil Liability Act. That it began in California can lead you to whatever conclusions you like....

(Forgive me if someone above has mentioned it. Didn't see it after I started skimming and I can only read so much.)
posted by IndigoJones at 4:57 PM on January 14, 2008


But it doesn't magically grab hold of you and never let go until you are a hollow shell of your former self; people make a conscious choice to use it. They make a conscious choice to continue using it because they like it so much. And then, yes, they can get hooked on it and the choice becomes less conscious.

So, what you're saying is that it can magically grab hold of you and never let go until you are a hollow shell of your former self. Why do people do things that are stupid and potentially (or perhaps, certainly) self-destructive? Answer that and you're half-way there. Anyone who says that drug abuse is a "conscious choice" puts a great deal of faith in consciousness.

I've personally been bit in the ass by all sorts of "conscious choices" that seemed entirely logical at the time. And they were logical at that point in time, perhaps not in the long term, or in hind-sight or by any empirical measure of logic that someone who wasn't me would understand.

Drug addiction is an incredibly complex psychological phenomenon. And I say this as an addict, not as a psychologist. I spend an incredible amount of time separating compulsive urges from rational thought (and it's not always easy to tell them apart). Personally I think I was pretty screwed from the get-go, the faulty, compulsive thinking was already there, and it found its outlet. This doesn't absolve me from responsibility for my own health and happiness, but it certainly gives me compassion for those who haven't gained the tools necessary to decide what that actually means.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 4:58 PM on January 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I like that it helps me deal with my ADD,

Heh. I was an ADD kid back in the 70's when it was still called 'hyperactivity,' and I got put on Ritalin for a while, before it was all the rage. Smoking may help with my ADD, but more likely I took it up because both of my parents smoked (my dad still does). Weed's fun, but without booze, it makes me paranoid a little. Combined, it's a blast.

But as for tobacco (among other things), I'm a confirmed addict. The first thing I do everyday is light one up on the toilet. One time I was eating a cookie and carrying on a conversation with my wife and Pips said "look at your hand." Sure enough, I was tapping the cookie like I was tapping ash of a cigarette.
posted by jonmc at 5:01 PM on January 14, 2008


Given the damage and misery drug and alcohol dependency wreaks on the lives and careers of people and their families, why would anyone voluntarily choose it?

Because they like the way the drug of choice makes them feel so much that they're willing to sacrifice all that for it.
posted by jonmc at 5:03 PM on January 14, 2008


restless leg syndrome is the favorite target of the "invented" disease charge

mayoclinic.org: "Certain dopaminergic drugs used to treat restless leg syndrome (RLS) may result in unwelcome side effects. A new study confirms that some patients who take the drugs may develop pathological gambling and/or excessive/inappropriate sexual activity."

Sorry, just today I heard a snippet of a TV drug ad, something about legs and "increased sexual desire" side effects, so I googled your term.

What drug has the side effect of making you want to take crystal meth, BTW?
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:06 PM on January 14, 2008


Crystal meth is some serious bad stuff. Sister-in-law was addicted until her death. I've seen first hand what it can do. Don't know about lawsuit, however anybody selling this stuff to below age minors (not aware of the problems associated with the drug) is a bottom feeder.
posted by brickman at 5:17 PM on January 14, 2008


"Why do people do things that are stupid and potentially (or perhaps, certainly) self-destructive? Answer that and you're half-way there."

Because drugs feel AWESOME in ways that are hard to believe if you're not on drugs.
posted by klangklangston at 5:21 PM on January 14, 2008


"What drug has the side effect of making you want to take crystal meth, BTW?"

You mean, besides crystal meth?
posted by klangklangston at 5:22 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


fwiw (not much) I more or less agree with the way jonmc has characterised things here. That said, there seems to be a fair amount of crossed purposes argumentation going on --- differing definitions of addiction and the somesuch.
"It's black goddamnit!!"
"It's not black you blind git. It's just a dark colour absorbing all the light"

posted by peacay at 5:43 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


No, fandango, I'm positing that 1) the decision to start using is a choice, yes and 2) that the decision to finally stop comes from within. Different proposition (and possibly paradoxical, I realize, but this stuff dosen't make a whole lot of sense by definition) from what you seem to think I'm saying.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 PM on January 14, 2008


hot rocks just fell off my joint onto my microfibre couch and i burned a nice size hole. i'm suing my fuckin' dealer. /serious (save for the last part)
posted by gman at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2008


*as a side note - i was NOT warned that this could happen.
posted by gman at 6:08 PM on January 14, 2008


Without trying to impress on any third parties reading this that you are both necessarily correct in your assertions, it is possible, and I would argue commonly held, that being is addict is not a choice, and yet the act itself of taking drugs is a choice, no matter how coerced or unreasonable of a choice it might be. There are addicts who choose to live sober lives. (Although I purposefully reserve the right to use the word choose loosely, primarily because I do not believe that meaningful sobriety is the result of an act of volition.)
posted by phaedon at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2008


fandango: I know you really want to win an argument or something, but at this point, you're just sorting the flyshit from the pepper and missing the point.
posted by jonmc at 6:34 PM on January 14, 2008


I think addiction and the process by which we become addicted is fundamental to who we are as human beings. All of us are no more than what we do, and more particularly, what we do regularly. If you drink once or twice a year, you aren't a drinker. If you build one boat, you aren't a boat builder (but fuck one sheep!..).

We, all of us, have habits. Some of them are good ones -- getting to work on time, going to the dentist, cleaning the house, giving money to charity. Some are bad-- being rude to people, peeing in the shower, doing drugs, killing hookers, whatever.... All those habits develop through the reward/punishment system in the brain.

Addictions are only different in that they streamline the process. The prime the reward system directly, rather than having to go about it in a convoluted manner. We've termed these addictions diseases, but they really aren't. They're just bad habits. And like any bad habit, they can be broken. Addicts form habits easier than others and break them harder, but they aren't sick, they aren't abnormal. The only thing addicts suffer from is an environment that enables them to completely and utterly destroy themselves and everyone around them with their addictions.

Addiction is just one of many 'diseases', that IMO aren't diseases at all -- ADD, depression, OCD. Most people who have these disease, IMO are well within the range of behaviors that people have expressed for millenia. It's just that modern society has constricted the range of human behavior that's acceptable, to the point where normal people can't function without performance enhancing drugs. We're heading into a cybernetic, post human society faster than most people realize, I think.

Mind-altering drugs of all kinds won't just become more available, they'll become essential. We'll take drugs to make us happier, take drugs to make us smarter, take drugs to make us sleep, take drugs to make us dream, take drugs to make us love, take drugs to make us have sex, and yes, take drugs to help us stop taking other drugs.

What a brave new world.
posted by empath at 6:36 PM on January 14, 2008 [4 favorites]


empath, you are dead wrong.

Peeing in the shower isn't a bad habit, merely efficiency.
posted by jonmc at 6:41 PM on January 14, 2008


The interesting thing to me is what it means to be human, what it means to be 'healthy' when half the population or more is taking some kind of mind altering drug, pretty much all the time. They can't all have been mentally 'ill' before and now be well, can they? Are they better than well? More than human?

What's healthy? When you can take drugs to make you happier, more productive, more satisfied with life and you willingly choose not to take them -- to be sad sometimes, to eat too much, to be scatterbrained, to compulsively count things, to get drunk regularly -- are you sick, are you diseased, are you less healthy?

I think i've digressed to much off the topic, though.

But, yeah, crystal meth is bad kids, don't do it. Especially when Ritalin is so much easier to get.
posted by empath at 6:43 PM on January 14, 2008


And there you go using the cliched 'everyman' (a word I've never used to describe myself, by the way) to dismiss what I'm saying: that the whole proposition is a lot more complicated than 'it's a disease' and that just about any credible drug rehabiliation stresses personal accountability as part of recovery.
posted by jonmc at 7:00 PM on January 14, 2008


If you build one boat, you aren't a boat builder (but fuck one sheep!..)

...and you're obviously a New Zealander.

I don't see how this helps the point you're trying to make.
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:34 PM on January 14, 2008


agregoli writes "krinklyfig, I was kind of trying to express the idea that many addicts don't wake up and say, 'I'm going to quit.' Some go into treatment involuntarily, as the result of being placed there by the legal system or waking up after an overdose and being sent there, etc. I agree with you that someone has to be determined not to do drugs again, but they might need help to get to that point of conviction."

That is true enough. But the fact of the matter, purely from a medical POV, you don't want to make the problem worse by attacking it. "Tough love" is the motto of the criminal justice system in the US, which makes a lot of people feel good but doesn't solve the problem. In fact it makes it worse, because there is so little emphasis on rehabilitation, and not enough money and resources put into it. It's not an attractive political position, or at least that's what the conventional wisdom has been since the '80s. Incarcerating drug users for being drug users is not going to reach most of them, especially if you don't offer tangible opportunities right in front of them. Incarcerating addicts will turn many of them into hardened criminals and limit their choices in a way that puts huge barriers in front of them.

We have a pretty big problem with addiction in the US, but we don't deal with it rationally in public policy, so it just gets worse. But the cost and burden of the current system is putting too much of a strain on people for them to ignore it, and public opinion is starting to shift away, to more rational ideas about what we want out of the criminal justice system in terms of real results. But there's a lot of money in privately run prisons, so getting anything changed is an uphill battle. We need to be involved in addicts' lives in order to help them, which means needle programs, supervised usage, that kind of thing - really unpopular stuff. But it saves lives and treats the problem from the perspective of public health, not criminal justice. I agree, if someone with a substance abuse problem commits crimes under the influence, then they have to be held responsible. But there is no reason to treat the addiction itself - the substance or use of it - as a criminal issue. It is probably a remnant of our Puritan influences that this continues to be seen as a moral failing, worthy of punishment, rather than a health issue.
posted by krinklyfig at 7:43 PM on January 14, 2008


Alcohol, to my knowledge, has not been subjected to similar kinds of actions. That's a bit of a double standard, I think. Nevertheless, if I encouraged somebody to drink a couple of bottles of spirits in a short time, I could expect to be held liable for their death, either through criminal or civil negligence.

Posted by UbuRoivas

You happen to be completely wrong about this. Alcoholic beverages when consumed as intended have no deleterious effect on someone's health, and in many if not most cases, if consumed as intended actually have a healthful effect. Cigarettes on the other hand cannnot make that claim. They are unhealthful when used as intended. Abuse of alcohol indeed can be bad for one's health, but no alcohol producer will claim their intent is for people to abuse it.

I've seen a lot of stupid claims in this thread based on emotional bullshit. From "Hey it's smoke, it's bad for you" to the above claim. Get real folks and actually do some reading before you spout off.
posted by Eekacat at 7:49 PM on January 14, 2008


consumed as intended by whom?
posted by empath at 7:59 PM on January 14, 2008


Also, I would point out that alcohol was subject to a prohibitionary period (which went well, no?), which tobacco was not. There has indeed been legislation in US history against alcohol, and there continues to this day an organized prohibitionist faction. People will always want to control what you do forcefully rather than try to negotiate or otherwise convince. You see it here in MetaFilter in this thread, and in the broader society. People are so convinced they're right about such things that they would want to legislate such things as religion etc., but in the end people need to be responsible for their own lives. Perhaps we'll come to a time where people won't be judged for their shortcomings in such a way they need to associate blame for their behavior, and can be accepted and helped for the people they are. Yeah right. I don't see that happening, and especially in this crowd. Metafilter is home to some of the most judgmental cowards to be found anywhere.
posted by Eekacat at 8:00 PM on January 14, 2008


consumed as intended by whom?
posted by empath


Whom do you think?
posted by Eekacat at 8:02 PM on January 14, 2008


Eeekacat: read my point again. I was talking about two different things:

1. No successful class actions against alcohol manufacturers - precisely because many drinkers exercise restraint.

2. Civil / criminal liability against individuals (frat boys, whoever) who encourage their friends to drink fatal doses of alcohol.

This meth lawsuit seems to lie closer to the class-action type: "you sold me something that you knew was dangerous & addictive".

(note that the class nature of lawsuits against big tobacco could stand on their merits if a single person sued, as did this meth victim. they only need to be class actions because big tobacco can obviously afford hyperexpensive teams of top lawyers, so the plaintiffs' pockets need to be similarly huge)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:03 PM on January 14, 2008


UbuRoivas, you spoke of a double standard in regards to alcohol and tobacco. I am pointing out that there isn't a double standard applied there. Perhaps you might clarify that?
posted by Eekacat at 8:08 PM on January 14, 2008


Eekacat writes "You happen to be completely wrong about this. Alcoholic beverages when consumed as intended have no deleterious effect on someone's health, and in many if not most cases, if consumed as intended actually have a healthful effect."

In many places in the US, if you serve someone alcohol, you can be held liable for that person's actions and be sued or face prosecution.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:10 PM on January 14, 2008


Right, krinklyfig, and what does that have to do with being used as intended?
posted by Eekacat at 8:13 PM on January 14, 2008


fandango_matt writes "It's also worth noting the phrase, 'People choose to be addicted' is just another way of saying, 'I can quit whenever I want.'"

But every addict knows, the choice to use is always the addict's alone. It can be very difficult to control, to the point where a person may need a support system of other people to help, but a choice is made, over and over. As phaedon said (more or less), nobody chooses to be predisposed to addiction, and nobody sets out to become addicted to something. But the choices a person makes can indeed turn someone with a predisposition into a full-blown addict. And yet the choice to use is theirs every time. Putting more and better choices in front of them can help them get out of it faster.

One interesting thing about heroin addiction, to use one example. The typical period of addiction for a long-term junkie is about 20 years. Most will quit by that point. If they could get controlled doses at known purity for maintenance, they could lead relatively normal lives and start to consider kicking with a support system readily available to them, and without living out the 20 year course. But even if they do that, they'd come through it better. You have to put the choice in people's hands, even if it takes years.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:15 PM on January 14, 2008


Eekacat writes "Right, krinklyfig, and what does that have to do with being used as intended?"

Because you brought that up in response to UbiRovias' comment:

Alcohol, to my knowledge, has not been subjected to similar kinds of actions. That's a bit of a double standard, I think. Nevertheless, if I encouraged somebody to drink a couple of bottles of spirits in a short time, I could expect to be held liable for their death, either through criminal or civil negligence.

My point is that he's probably right, depending on the jurisdiction.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:17 PM on January 14, 2008


Abuse of alcohol indeed can be bad for one's health, but no alcohol producer will claim their intent is for people to abuse it.

From the legal standpoint, the producer's intent is not relevant. What is relevant is whether they took reasonable precautions to prevent reasonably foreseeable harm. The fact that a proportion of people can be reasonably foreseen to abuse alcohol means that the producers should do what is reasonable to prevent that from occurring.

Perhaps the "drink in moderation" messages on ads & bottles are seen to be sufficient, but alcohol is a special case because it's so fiendishly simple to produce (yeast + dissolved sugar of any kind + time) that it's impossible to enforce prohibition, so regulation is clearly seen as the way to go, as a matter of public policy. That, and the fact that regulated production under controlled conditions is preferable to homemade moonshine, which can often result in wood alcohol being produced, which either sends you blind or kills you.

So, it's still a double standard, in my humble legal opinion, but as a matter of policy, alcohol production is legalised as the lesser of two evils.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:17 PM on January 14, 2008


So, what producer of alcohol intends for someone to do that? If you can find one, then I'd love to hear it. The tobacco cases have been against the producers of cigarettes, not the distributors or "pushers". I'm not aware of any class action cases against say 7/11 for selling cigarettes, but I'm not really current on tobacco legislation. A bartender selling someone 10 shots of tequila is going against the producers intended use of the product. Again, no producer is going to say they want people to drink a case of their beer every night, or drink a quart of their whiskey every day. Cigarette makers cannot make that same claim. Hence, there is no double standard.
posted by Eekacat at 8:24 PM on January 14, 2008


Alternate post title: Joint liability.
posted by joe lisboa at 8:29 PM on January 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


Eeekacat: I think you're again confusing two distinct situations:

1. Alcohol producer knows that x% of drinkers will abuse alcohol & harm themselves. Did they take reasonable steps to prevent this? If not, they should be liable in a tort of negligence. (this is the one that's similar to the tobacco cases, although the expected legal result is trumped by the practical policy of choosing the lesser of two evils. still, there might be grounds for alcoholics to sue big breweries - who knows? the thing is, it would be a tougher battle than suing big tobacco, and that's been difficult enough)

2. Bartender or fratboy allows or encourages somebody to drink a lethal dose. That one's open & shut. Bartender or fratboy is liable. Not the brewery.

I'm sorry if these became confused. There's a bit of an overlap.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:31 PM on January 14, 2008


UbuRoivas, apparently Tobacco is fiendishly simple to produce (seeds and water), so your easy to produce argument holds no water. However no matter how you use tobacco, it is harmful. Smokeless causes various cancers, as does the burnable kinds. These are well documented effects of using it as intended. Alcoholic beverages when used as intended are healthful. These effects are well documented too. The producers intent is absolutely relevant, and that's why the alcohol industry has been spared the class action suits the tobacco industry has. The tobacco industry has been caught knowingly trying to get more people addicted in order to sell more product. The argument that "it's easy, so we might as well just regulate it" could apply to things like marijuana, cocaine, mushrooms, and meth, but for some reason it doesn't. I still don't see the double standard you are talking about.
posted by Eekacat at 8:39 PM on January 14, 2008


Eekacat:

Alcohol can be produced overnight, in a bottle, in your kitchen pantry, with no energy input. Short of randomly searching peoples' houses, there's nothing you can do to check its production.

Tobacco & marijuana are also relatively simple, as you point out. However, being plants, you either need to grow them out of doors, or resort to hydroponics. Outdoors, they are relatively visible to all, and anything larger than the smallest hydro setup runs the risk of detection, due to abnormal electricity usage. Also impossible to completely eliminate, but tougher than alcohol. Ever heard of people growing pot in prison? Well, they make their own alcohol. That might highlight the differences.

As for regulation of marijuana, coke, mushrooms, meth (and heroin etc), I'm all for it, although obviously coke & meth are not as simple to produce as tobacco, pot or shrooms.

As for "The producers intent is absolutely relevant", please cite precedent. Without being intimately familiar with the cases, my understanding is that big tobacco's actions in crafting more efficient nicotine delivery neurochemical processes harmed their defence of "oh, but we didn't know that nicotine is addictive / oh, but this scientist disputes that it's addictive". It didn't change the elements of a tort of negligence; more of an evidentiary issue.

(on afterthought, I don't even know if negligence was used against big tobacco; I wonder if it was something else...?)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:57 PM on January 14, 2008


step 1 - "We admitted that we were powerless over our addiction, that our lives had become unmanageable."

meaning "we didn't have a choice anymore"

and that's the whole theme of AA or NA right there is that YOU don't have control over your addiction anymore - that only relying on a higher power - whatever that higher power is - can you manage to get out of the morass

that's what one group of experienced and prominent addicts have to say about the matter - deny it if you will - but unless you've been an addict or lived with an addict or are a professional treating addicts, then your opinion doesn't count for much
posted by pyramid termite at 9:08 PM on January 14, 2008


krinklyfig "Tough love" is the motto of the criminal justice system in the US, which makes a lot of people feel good but doesn't solve the problem.

"Tough hate", IMO.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 9:09 PM on January 14, 2008


I should add, UbuRoivas, I don't know if you're a lawyer, but you haven't provided any evidence of your opinion other than it being an opinion. I can tell you as someone who has worked in the alcoholic beverage industry for 20+ years that what I have said is absolutely it's defense. If you're an attorney perhaps you can provide some Joe Schmoe versus Fred Blow cases, but you won't find them. The difference between the alcohol industry and the tobacco industry is entirely due to intent. The tobacco industry knowingly is selling something that causes harm. I can assure you that the alcohol industry is well aware of the harm that can take place with the product they produce, but I don't think you'll find one producer that will capitalize on that. I've worked on the level of the smallest winery to the largest brewery, and nowhere have I seen even the slightest intention of that. The tobacco industry can't claim the same thing. That's why I challenge your implication that there is a double standard between the two industries even though they both deal in "sin". Seriously. Look it up and read about it instead of offering up an unfounded opinion.
posted by Eekacat at 9:10 PM on January 14, 2008


We're heading into a cybernetic, post human society faster than most people realize, I think.

Mind-altering drugs of all kinds won't just become more available, they'll become essential. We'll take drugs to make us happier, take drugs to make us smarter, take drugs to make us sleep, take drugs to make us dream, take drugs to make us love, take drugs to make us have sex, and yes, take drugs to help us stop taking other drugs.


I have not seen enough Singularity science fiction dealing with how, when people start having electrodes put in their brains or getting uploaded to robot bodies, the side effect is basically massive drug use. Load this program into the nanotech robot swarm in your brain. Open source humans.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 9:27 PM on January 14, 2008


"The prime the reward system directly, rather than having to go about it in a convoluted manner. We've termed these addictions diseases, but they really aren't. They're just bad habits. And like any bad habit, they can be broken. Addicts form habits easier than others and break them harder, but they aren't sick, they aren't abnormal."

What wet bullshit.

If there is a disposition to alcoholism genetically, which has been established by umpteen studies, there is a genetic difference in those prone to alcoholism. If there is a genetic difference that predicts a behavior, that's pretty clearly "abnormal" unless you want to argue that it's a rare few who don't get addicted to, say, alcohol once they try it. I'd argue that the majority of adults who have tried alcohol don't have significant signs of addict behavior.

I mean, unless you're somebody who doesn't consider muscular dystrophy a disease.

Alcoholism, like ADD or depression or OCD doesn't make choices for you, but it definitely influences people's behavior patterns, like shifting the rules of a game. Addiction changes impulses, instincts and unconscious modes of action. Acting like it's just a bad habit, like swearing in front of children or littering, is not only a failure of empathy but also one of understanding. "Habits" is a simplistic metaphor, and hewing to it closely means not helping folks who need help.
posted by klangklangston at 10:04 PM on January 14, 2008


Facts? Meh, you can prove *anything* with facts.

Like that the grounds of claims against big tobacco were apparently design defects, strict liability, product liability & depriving of health hazards information, and not negligence. I'd try to look up why that was, but it's time to go home.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:05 PM on January 14, 2008


Who said I didn't say they don't have a genetic predisposition to addiction? I thought I clearly said they did. I just said it's not a disease. It's normal, just like any other genetic variation is normal. Most people don't have red hair, most people aren't 5'4" tall. That doesn't make red haired people and short people 'diseased'. It's just an inevitable result of of the bell curve.

Addiction is probably a genetic adaptation, in fact. Addictive behavior, when it doesn't get side tracked by drugs and alcohol (or gambling) leads people to practice and develop new skills. I've got a mildly addictive personality, and while it's been destructive in some respects (in terms of drinking too much and too often, and other things that I wish I hadn't done as often as I did), it also lead me to doing things like learning how to DJ by spending hours and hours and hours alone by myself in a room doing the same thing over and over again, which lead to really great opportunities in my life.

If we were to eliminate addictive personality traits and essential part of what makes us human would disappear. Now, it may be that we figure out how to limit the excesses of addiction with treatments and chemicals, but just because we found something that changes the way we function, that doesn't mean the way we functioned before was 'sick.'

I think there maybe a point at which addictive personality is so out of control that it must be from some kind of genetic malfunction, but I think that has to be rare, and not everyone that's addicted to drugs or alcohol has to be an addict because they're diseased. They're just human beings like the rest of us, with human weaknesses.

I just think that we too often confuse personality traits with diseases.
posted by empath at 10:35 PM on January 14, 2008


If there is a disposition to homosexuality genetically, which has been established by umpteen studies, there is a genetic difference in those prone to homosexual behavior. If there is a genetic difference that predicts a behavior, that's pretty clearly "abnormal" unless you want to argue that it's a rare few who don't get addicted to, say, gay sex once they try it.

Just doing a little bit of word replacement.
posted by empath at 10:42 PM on January 14, 2008


empath writes "I think there maybe a point at which addictive personality is so out of control that it must be from some kind of genetic malfunction, but I think that has to be rare, and not everyone that's addicted to drugs or alcohol has to be an addict because they're diseased. They're just human beings like the rest of us, with human weaknesses."

The out of control addict is just self-destructive. This happens for various reasons, but addiction isn't the root of the problem for most addicts, although it's impossible to accomplish anything until someone's addiction can at least be managed. Getting rid of dealing with the addiction all the time allows people to take control of their lives again and deal with their problems. I hate the term "self-medicating," because it plays to the disease model of addiction, but a lot of people who are addicted are trying to bury their problems, and addiction does tend to be a problem with certain mental illnesses - clinical depression is very common. Getting beyond it is largely about finding new ways to deal with things.

As for the genetic component, it's there - some people don't have all the enzymes necessary to digest alcohol, and that figure is much higher outside the "western world." That doesn't mean someone with an active addiction and a genetic predisposition will be terminal. It just means you cope with what you have. But you're right. It's no more abnormal than other genetic variations. From the standpoint of public policy, I do think it has to be considered in the realm of public health, but that doesn't necessitate the disease model.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:32 PM on January 14, 2008


Suppose you gave someone you knew was an alcoholic his first drink of the night, but while he's sober. Then he ends up getting drunk, has an accident, and ends up in a coma.

Tell me that that you have liability, and I'll accept that. If not though, then it's only the fact that meth is illegal that causes liability in this case.

It's a shitty thing to do of course, but drug dealers often are shitty people and are definitely not your friend.
posted by cotterpin at 12:41 AM on January 15, 2008


Meth dealers are not selling cigarettes, guns or alcohol. They sell meth. It's different.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:11 AM on January 15, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised one of you lawyers out there haven't cited the latin for a basic principle of the American legal system, which has to do with no court will ever take on a case involving enforcement of an illegal contract.

You paid someone to kill the guy, and he only broke a thumb? Outta my court, mister!
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:12 AM on January 15, 2008


um, and maybe Canada, too?
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:12 AM on January 15, 2008


Empath:

Couple things. First off, homosexuality IS abnormal. It's a minority population. Does that mean that all genetic behavior preferences are diseases? No, but that's because homosexuality is not de facto harmful. Alcoholism IS. There's no way to tell whether someone IS an alcoholic (as opposed to just having high predictive markers for it) until they exhibit alcoholic behavior. Much the same way there's no way to tell if someone will get a genetic cancer until they develop it, but that cancer is a disease. Same way that muscular dystrophy is a disease, or dwarfism is a disease or schizophrenia is a disease. Trying to toss in some red herring about homosexuality is more bullshit from you on this topic (because, again, falling in love with members of the same sex isn't individually harmful, while it is abnormal).

But alcoholism isn't red hair, or being 5'4", or whatever other facile comparison you want to make—it's a fundamental difference in how the brain responds to certain stimuli. It's a probabilistic shift in how impulses are controlled, and that means that to be effective, treatment does have to be different than teaching someone not to pick their teeth with their fork. Again, it's a failure of understanding to treat addiction as just another habit, and it's bullshit to assert that alcoholics are just like anyone else in this great crazy world of red-haired folks. It's like telling someone who's clinically depressed to just cheer up, instead of working to find a therapy and drug regimen. Or someone with Aspergers to just be more aware of social interactions. It's not helpful.
posted by klangklangston at 8:25 AM on January 15, 2008


While I agree that it isn't a matter of simple choice whether or not one becomes an addict, I think it's pretty easy (and pretty frequently done in the media) to overstate the role of genetics in alcoholism (or other addictions). Once we discount the "hereditary studies" which too frequently fail to account for familialism, the picture is much muddier. What we know for sure is that genetics plays a role in myriad (like, thousands) of different differences in the way that people respond to alcohol. There are not, currently, one or two of five or ten identified mutations that are predictive of alcoholism. There does seem to be evidence that there is an accretion of small differences that make some people more susceptible to alcohol abuse than others. But what does that tell us about the genetics of alcoholism? Certainly the outliers have more susceptibility, but what about the folks with a moderate number of changes, or a few? Do those folks also have a genetic disease? What's the cut-off? In any case, alcoholism is clearly an issue in which the environment plays such a strong role as to seriously diminish any genetic contribution, which is why talking about it as genetic may not get us all that far. Without alcohol there aren't any alcoholics.

Note that I'm not dismissing alcoholism or addiction as a serious, recalcitrant issue, in any sense. I don't think there are simple choices in this realm, nor do I think that alcoholics just need to straighten up and fly right. On the other hand, I think we can talk about things as fundamental and unremitting without recourse to biological explanations.
posted by OmieWise at 8:58 AM on January 15, 2008


I'm surprised one of you lawyers out there haven't cited the latin for a basic principle of the American legal system, which has to do with no court will ever take on a case involving enforcement of an illegal contract.

Dios did mention it upthread.
posted by phaedon at 9:47 AM on January 15, 2008


Her story (on her site) is a good read -- and should be shared. The litigious bullshit part of this serves no purpose. You think the dealer is going to pay? You think the dealer gives a flying fuck? Will this put in place a legal precedent that will somehow curb the meth scourge? No...it's just media bullshit to drum up sympathy. She should stick to speaking at high schools and clinics -- sharing the horror the she couldn't fathom...
posted by VicNebulous at 11:05 AM on January 15, 2008


“People will always want to control what you do forcefully rather than try to negotiate or otherwise convince. You see it here in MetaFilter in this thread, and in the broader society.”

Pfft. No you don’t. Flagged. *hides*

“Moreover, contrary to popular belief, we aren't ethically fine so long as we mind our own business and don't hurt anybody else”

Indeed. “Good men. Do nothing. Evil. Prevail. Yadda yadda.” - The Mona Lisa guy, The english conservative guy, the wild haired German e=mc2 guy (et.al)

“We'll take drugs to make us happier, take drugs to make us smarter...etc”

Likely. But (and with ‘Requiem for a Dream’ in mind) I doubt anything will take the place of real experience. At least for some folks. I might be addicted to adrenaline, but I’m limited in that it has to be derived from some sort of extreme experiance. Wouldn’t be the same sitting on a couch or even the most advanced VR.
Additionally, being conscious of the usage (e.g. “say, my hands are prunes. I’m dehydrated and low on potassium) deflects most of the abuse.
The Native American tribes f’rinstnace, used tobacco (and other drugs) sparingly, as ritual, to consciously achieve a certain state of mind. Often shared.

Which, I suspect, is the betrayal aspect of this case. The social contract here - and indeed, in all illicit drug transactions - is that the dealer is there to help you (essentiall get high, but can be coupled with other things).
That society is wrong in barring whatever drug from people and - importantly - that the experiance, that is the experiance of defying the norms, the government, your parents, whatever, is shared.

This is such an ingrained conceptual construct of drug deals that it’s essentially invisible. That the dealer isn’t exploiting you and driving your health into the ground to just to make himself money. But in fact, he is.
That statement from the claim: “...for the purpose of intentionally inflicting physical and mental suffering" on her” is critical.

Now, I’m not talking court here. IANAL. I’m talking about the social understanding that’s replicated and reinforced throughout the underworld.

Let me put it this way: Would you buy an unwrapped frosted creme filled cupcake that a guy pulls out of his trenchcoat?

So, yes, there’s a good deal of self-delusion going on here. But a good deal of PR on the dealer’s side, in that the stuff he pulls out (meth, whatever) is not ‘harmful’ per se.
Most folks wouldn’t buy and ingest food from some guy on the street (hell, even vendors) and yet, they’re willing to buy and bodily ingest chemicals.

Same self-delusion deal with abusive or harmful relationships. “he’s a good man when he’s not drinkin’” and “I never hit her with a closed fist” etc.
Or not even that dramatic, there are far more subtle harmful relationships. And in part it’s orgasms or whatever stellar level consciousness experiance one gets out of it, that folks are willing to trade off for it.

So (I agree with some of the folks above) it’s a bit of both in terms of lack of choice/choice - because the environment that facilitates it, *either way* is this environment of deception and delusion.
So (as in Requiem for a Dream) someone doesn’t use drugs to use drugs per se, but as a means to an end. They’re hooked on that delusion of success or empowerment or whatever and see the dealer as a means to that end.
The dealer may or may not foster or encourage that delusion, but they do bear responsibility for intentionally seeking material gain through the suffering of others.

Any delusion on the part of the dealer does not mitigate that responsibility.

Whether they should be sued, whole other thing.
But I’d add as an example Ford got, and should have gotten, and indeed, should have gotten a great deal more - grief for selling Pintos that they knew were harmful.
They simply calculated that the cost of the lawsuits from the dead and injured would not be higher than the cost of fixing the problem.

Similar matrix exists for drug dealers. The retaliatory capabilities of the users is not enough to lessen the trade - and that is by design since the product itself erodes the capacity to make cogent judgements.

So - whether it’s a matter of choice or genetic predilection or whatever to start, stop, whatever - using is nearly (I’ll grant not at all entirely) moot.
The substance itself is designed to alter consciousness and withdraw the subject from the support of society at large - as is the transaction itself.

(As an aside - I have a good friend currently battling with drug use. This person moved out of the area entirely to escape getting back into the pattern of drug use. And was successful. Unfortunately circumstances dictated that they return. I’ll stress ‘dictated’ there, wasn’t much of a choice. And they got with old friends and fell into some of the same patterns. There was a tragic series of events (she, I see have to say now) she was pregnant and going to get married and her fiancee killed himself. That was first in the series, IMHO the easiest thing to get through.

So the pattern re-asserted itself. Folks came with the pretext of helping. Perhaps they themselves really believed they were helping to ease her pain. But it is, as I’ve said, a delusion, and she started using again.
The hell of it is this places you outside society and support.
In part because you’ve chosen - visibly chosen - to maintain yourself outside the bounds. To make that agreement.

In some ways I can respect the idea of this kind of lawsuit (much as I find it in some ways distasteful) if only to point out that dealers are not at all there to help you.

There is, truly, no honor amongst thieves.
Yet many insist on believing there is. That, to me, is what is truly dangerous.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:19 AM on January 15, 2008


It's like telling someone who's clinically depressed to just cheer up, instead of working to find a therapy and drug regimen.

Again, bullshit. I also think depression is over diagnosed, though. If someone is depressed all the time and doesn't want to be - beautiful. Take prozac! That's what it's for. But not everyone on prozac has a disease, not remotely.
posted by empath at 12:14 PM on January 15, 2008


I'm surprised one of you lawyers out there haven't cited the latin for a basic principle of the American legal system, which has to do with no court will ever take on a case involving enforcement of an illegal contract.

Dios did mention it upthread.


Yes, but with the opposite conclusion:

"The illegality of the transaction does not effect the tort law analysis beyond making the negligence at issue negligence per se."

The thing is, the plaintiff wasn't trying to enforce a contract (eg "I gave you money for crack & you sold me draincleaner. Gimme my crack now!") but suing for the tort of negligence. Contracts & torts are entirely different things.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:26 PM on January 15, 2008



The addiction choice v. disease debate is artificial because addiction is essentially an emotional learning disorder. That means that genetics can make it more likely for you to get in trouble, as can severe stress and other environmental influences but these are all predispositions not predestination.

The choices one makes repeatedly play into it-- some people have a stronger tendency to make particular choices (particularly when they are young, particularly when they are under stress, particularly when there are few alternatives). So, there are certain situations in which addiction is a rational choice as self-medication, meaning-making and simply as a way of getting through the day.

You change the situation, you change the contingencies and an addict might now want to make different choices but this is made a lot harder by both pharmacology and the brain changing processes involved in both normal learning and in learning under the influence of drugs that affect reward systems. So, there is an aspect of impaired will-- but it is not like the addict has no free will. You don't see addicts shooting up in front of cops.

It is ridiculous for someone to sue someone else for "addicting" them-- in fact, in the 400 cases where people tried to sue the maker of Oxycontin for causing their addiction, not one person one. Many of these were lost because the plaintiffs turned out to have long prior histories of addiction -- and yet they still wanted to blame the doctor and the drug company, even when some of them had lied to get the drugs!!!

We are all interdependent and it is important for people to look out for each other-- but responsibility in cases of addiction must rest firmly with the addicts themselves.

This doesn't mean we are evil (I'm a former heroin and cocaine addict) and it doesn't mean we should go to jail for simply being addicts-- but it does mean that if we want to recover (I will have 20 years free of coke and heroin in August) we have to repeatedly keep making different choices and take care of our mental health in ways to minimize the odds of relapse.

And, the 12 step notion of powerlessness is actually problematic: the more someone believes they are "powerless," the *worse* any relapses they have are likely to be, according to one study. Just because something becomes collective knowledge doesn't mean it's correct. And lots of collective knowledge on addiction and drugs is completely off the wall.
posted by Maias at 3:19 PM on January 15, 2008


My ex-wife was 5'4".

Enough said.
posted by Samizdata at 3:30 PM on January 15, 2008


From "the real story" section of her site: "My brain works good though."
posted by Devils Slide at 5:24 PM on January 15, 2008


Alcoholism as genetic seems to make sense if you think of it not necessarily as an adaptive behavior with positive effects, but rather as a behavior that furthers procreation.

You drink more, you have more ill-advised sex, you end up with more children.

And those children pass on the genes that predispose their children to alcoholism, thus establishing a great chain of drink-n-fuck that keeps going not because it's particularly great for any of the individuals involved, but because it keeps the biological organisms (we are, after all, just mammals) reproducing. Evolution doesn't select for addictive genes because they make individuals more productive, it selects for them because it makes the individuals more likely to procreate without inhibition.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:08 AM on January 16, 2008 [1 favorite]


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