We need to educate schoolchildren about substance use and abuse Watch
My opinion, before I gave it much thought and experienced a darker side of drugs personally, was that we as humans have a right to put whatever substances we want in our body, and that it is barbaric for a politician to tell me otherwise. More recently, I have decide to revisit my view and would like to present what I believe the best option is with regards to the usage of drugs in this country.
If you are reading this, you may have had a lesson in school as part of PSHE or something similar relating to the dangers of legal and illegal drugs. I had to make a poster (which I have recently found in my old school drawer) outlining the dangers of such drugs. I was 13 at the time, and the effects I had to write for each of the drugs went something like "Cocaine: risk of heart attack" "Heroin: high risk of death and addiction even with one use" and so on. Now, one of the reasons - in my opinion - that we have such a problem with alcohol bingeing and recklessness is because ofa lack of education towards alcohol - our environment tells us it is normal to get absolutely smashed and get into an utter state that it seems normal. Herein is also where the worries of people with drugs lies - poor education.
Schools need to start educating their pupils about drugs, in an honest and unbiased way. Whilst many of us would like to see many drugs legalised, the fact is that as a country we are not ready for it, the NHS is not ready for it, not enough people are educated.
We need to teach people rules that will be taught with the aim of saving lives, not deterring people off drugs. Think about it, teaching someone how to have safe sex (which schools do) is clearly more effective than teaching someone not to have sex at all. Likewise, teaching someone how to take drugs safely is better than saying not to take them at all.
I now want to present some rules I have learned through experience and research. I guarantee that if these were taught in schools, they would save lives, and if I ha not known these rules myself, I could have been at risk of a dangerous situation arising.
1. Before taking a drug, find out whether anyone in your family has ever had any mental health issues. If so, it is highly advisable to stay away from drugs - whilst some drugs cannot cause mental health disorders alone, they can trigger pre-existing mental health issues earlier in a persons life than would happen.
2. If you already have mental health issues, again it is highly advisable to stay away from drugs.
3. Do you find it difficult to stop after just one drink? Do you sometimes find yourself binge eating, feeling physically unable to stop? Whilst not a definite, these are signs that you may have an addictive personality, and as such you may find drugs - even ones that are only psychologically addictive - to go hand in hand with an addictive personality. I would not advise anyone with an addictive personality to try a drug, as I have learnt out the hard way.
4. Do not combine 'uppers' and 'downers - i.e stimulants and opiates - these can put excessive strain on your heart.
5. If you are with a person who is in urgent need of medical attention because of a reaction to a drug they have taken but you are afraid to call the ambulance because you still have drugs lying around and you don't want to get arrested - call the ambulance, they will not call the police, they are only interested in helping the person.
6. Use a testing kit. Drugs such as MDMA and cocaine have notoriously decreased in purity in the UK in recent years (half of 'MDMA pills' in 2009 in the UK contained no MDMA at all!), as dealers use other substances instead which poorly mimic their effects to make bigger profits. MDMA pills in particular can contain dangerous chemicals which have killed people who have not used a testing kit on their drugs to to find out what is in them.
7. Weigh your drugs before you take them. This cannot be stressed enough.
8. If your heart is beating very fast but you are still craving more drugs (extremely likely to happen if you have taken cocaine, an addictive stimulant which increases your heart rate), wait until your heart rate is back to around the norm, as taking more stimulants when your heart rate is dangerously high does not always end well.
9. If you have taken a party drug (i.e mephedrone or mdma) in a party or a club where you are dancing and hot and sweaty, you should take regular breaks from the dance floor to cool yourself down and sip on some water. This will prevent overheating and dehydration. You do not need to drink excessive amounts of water, i.e litres and litres and litres - only a glass every hour or when you are visibly sweating and overheated. Remind yourself to drink and cool down because party drugs can sometimes make you forget as you're having to much fun to tear yourself away from the dancefloor.
10. Don't accept drugs from strangers in clubs. Simple.
11. When taking psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs, make sure you have a good mindset (i.e not worried/angry/stressed) and are in a comfortable setting with people you like and trust - choose to go against this rule and your ass will be mentally kicked by whatever psychedelic/hallucinogenic drug you are on.
12. When taking psychedelic/hallucinogenic drugs, it is highly advisable to have a sober person present, in case something bad happens. Whilst this rule may not seem as serious as the rest, it is still very very important. Here's an example of why: I once took shrooms with two of my best friends, one of them had a bad trip and whilst lighting a cigarette, thought she'd set the house on fire but wasn't sure. She couldn't trust us because we were also under the influence of the drug, and as such she ran screaming into her mums room (yes we tried to stop her, you try holding back a person losing their **** on a powerful drug!) telling her to get out the house because it was on fire. Her mum, up until this point, did not know her daughter took any drugs in her life, and proceeded to shout and scream at her, which of course made her bad trip a million times worse.
13. Do not take substances alone that are physically addictive. Again, I learnt this out the hard way, whenever I felt stressed or bored or just wanted something to do, I would do cocaine in my room by myself. Probably 90% of my posts on this forum since September/October will have been posted under the influence of cocaine, simply because it has addictive qualities that sneak up on you.
14. Do not use drugs as a crutch for when you feel sad or angry. They are an excellent short term problem to stop feeling like that, but when they wear off in a few hours you have to deal with the dilemma of whether to keep abusing them to stop feeling sad/angry or just feel as bad, if not worse, if you did in the first place.
15. Do not drive, or operate heavy machinery, or go to work under the influence of drugs if you are responsible for the safety of other people's lives.
16. Do not share needles if you are injecting drugs. If you are insufflating drugs, do not share notes/straws. If you are sharing a note/needle with someone who unknowingly has Hepititis C, guess what you're at risk of...
17. Look onto sites such as erowid.com to see what the recommended dosage is for a drug, and stick to it. Other the course of a night 0.1 - 0.3 grams of MDMA is a normal dose - I once took 1.5 grams of MDMA over the course of a night and felt severely depressed and suicidal for 4 weeks after - yes, the comedown lasted that long. Doing big doses like that isn't funny or clever, stay away from such ridiculous doses.
18. Be aware of any potential side effects of the drug you are taking, good and bad. Don't take drugs which you don't know the effects of.
19. Be aware of methods of taking a drug - for example, taking a drug nasally may produce much stronger or different drugs than taking it orally.
20. If taking a drug that can make you sleepy, drowsy (i.e valium) or can physically paralyse you (i.e ketamine), use your common sense - don't go in a bath, don't leave cigarettes lit, don't leave candles out.
21. Avoid peer pressure. If someone refuses to be your friend because you won't take a drug, it says a lot more about them than it does about you.
22. When taking a substance for the first time, start with an extremely low dose to check for an allergy test.
23. Do not use drugs when pregnant or breastfeeding.
24. Don't use drugs to replace things you are not getting in your everyday life, such as happiness or confidence. This is another quick road to addiction.
There are probably plenty more rules, and if any come to mind, I will add them. If schools start teaching harm reduction strategies to their pupils from a young age, we can bring up a generation of young people not to see drugs as evil, but as substances that can be used responsibility when following an important set of rules. Maybe then, we will be a country that is ready for drugs to be legalised. Until then, go into your town centre tonight and see how people abuse alcohol to see how uneducated this current generation is about putting substances into their body. The fact is, we are not ready. Not yet.
Yes, we were educated about alcohol, the good sides and bad sides. If you want to abuse it go ahead, it's your own life you are putting at risk. I do believe though that if you bring someone else to harm while drunk e.g. drunk violence/driving, then you should be put to death. Might teach the little brats to be a bit more serious about how much they drink.
I don't agree with putting someone to death for that, and I also don't believe people are educated about substance harm reduction techniques. We cannot take a "it's your life, **** it up if you want" attitude, future generations can learn from us and become more responsible in their choices. This is about changing government, and media attitudes from scaremongering to educating to implement a positive effect on society in general through honest and open education in school. If you don't believe that's important, then whilst I respect your opinion I can't say it's one I agree with.
I respect your opinion too, but let's be honest, no matter how much you educate, there will still be a minority who try the stuff. It's like crime in general - you are constantly told it's wrong and illegal and you'll go to jail etc. But people still do it.
Edit: bit I bolded in your post, I am not saying we should educate people not to do drugs, people have done and always will, regardless of whether this is good or bad, my post is concerning harm reduction techniques if they do decide to take drugs.