Other Free Encyclopedias » Science Encyclopedia » Common Street Drugs » Epidemic or False Alarm? - Why The Special Concern About Drug Use?, Questionable Reputations, How Likely Is “moderate” Use?, Conclusion

Epidemic or False Alarm? - Why The Special Concern About Drug Use?

people hallucinogens drugs legalization

No one can dispute the problems hallucinogens have caused millions of young people who have lost control while using them. No one can deny that those problems have spread to injure families and communities. Advocates of substance legalization, though, argue that the phenomenon is no worse with hallucinogens than it is with alcohol—or with automobiles. The fact that reckless drivers (adults as well as teenagers) cause highway injuries and deaths hasn't resulted in a ban on cars. The fact that alcohol abuse by all age groups causes more problems than other substances hasn't raised a public outcry for another era of prohibition. Why, then, declare a special war on drugs?

When it comes to hallucinogens specifically, legalization advocates point out that they are not generally addictive. Furthermore, studies indicate most teenagers who use hallucinogens use them only occasionally and do not develop dependencies. People who call for legalization argue that when a user reaches a point where increased dosages begin to cause physical distress, the person naturally will stop experimenting.

Proponents of substance legalization cite other studies that suggest drug abuse does not create maladjusted children. Rather, it merely appears that way because children who already are maladjusted are the ones most likely to overuse mind-altering substances and cause problems for others.

In his book Saying Yes: In Defense of Drug Use, Jacob Sullum describes a “silent majority of users: the decent, respectable people who, despite their politically incorrect choice of intoxicants, earn a living and meet their responsibilities.” Most young people who use controlled substances likewise use them responsibly, Sullum believes. “Growing up in Pennsylvania with middle-class kids and going to college in upstate New York, I didn't know anyone with an obvious drug problem. For the most part, the drug users I knew had other important things going on in their lives, and they had little trouble keeping drugs under control.”

Although this arguably may characterize the majority of users, it points to a minority conclusion. Most medical and psychological professionals believe that for most people, there is no good reason to use hallucinogens, and the risks are serious.

Questionable Reputations

Drug legalization advocates accuse the media of inaccurately depicting the dangers of certain drugs. They cite date rape drugs as examples. In most cases in which victims report being drugged, then sexually assaulted by companions, alcohol is the substance involved. Two controlled depressants, Rohypnol (flunitrazepam) and GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid), have also been cited. Jacob Sullum, in his book Saying Yes, writes, “It's not clear exactly how often rapists use GHB or Rohypnol, but such cases are surely much rarer than the hysterical reaction from the press and Congress … would lead one to believe.”

Sullum suggests that since Rohypnol and GHB are recognized as popular club drugs, some people now suspect all club drugs—including the hallucinogen MDMA—of being rapists' devices.

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