(Tell me again, why are we doing this?)
"I'm no wheelbarrow!" You know, everyone says that and the louder they shout the more predictable they become and eventually the easier they are to 'set up'! You see, wheelbarrows are powerless and empty objects that are filled with 'whatever' and go wherever the 'pusher' wants it to go!
Our first world market driven, consumer culture sets us up with three primary values. These suck us into a place where we believe the following values are so important. Now we may not write them down and rehearse them, but they are powerfully reinforced in culture and if left unchecked, they end up 'bumping' other values aside, values like courage, honesty, compassion and service.
These new 'values' are...a) Is it fun? b) Is it comfortable? c) Will it make "ME"'happy'?
If a couple of these three 'biggies' aren't on the table, or at least looked at, then we tend to walk away! But what are we walking away from? And ultimately where are we gunna end up? "Who cares" may be the 'try hard' reply... well, YOU DO! Unless you're so dysfunctional and messed up of course!
ICE wasn’t Andy’s first drug – no that was alcohol. He started bingeing at only 14. After using cannabis and some heroin, and then stopping for a season, Andy commenced ICE use after the death of his mother – it motivated him to get out of bed…but sadly much more than that followed.
Andy candidly, but unemotionally shares his concerns about the poor use of drug policy and the utter madness of ‘ICE Smoking Rooms’. Check out the full interview here…
The phenomenon of semantic contagion is a fascinating one, and it is has been used relentlessly in propaganda measures to recalibrate thinking around fixed ideas in all sorts of arenas.
A brief (and one aspect) take on this is, a process of reframing a word, term, phrase or principle for purposes of harnessing it for another focus, other than it’s intended specificity. It is often not necessarily a blatant misuse of the term, rather a re-tasking to suit an agenda not originally meant for the term.
Harm Reduction is just such a term that has been so engaged and recalibrated over recent years.
This important Pillar of the National Drug Strategy was set in place in an attempt to reduce the burden of disease, disorder and/or death of those caught in the tyranny of drug addiction, whilst simultaneously assisting them to exit the drug use that is causing said dysfunctional states.
A useful meme employed by many proponents of this framework is, ‘You cannot rehabilitate a dead drug user.’ Again, a useful linguistic tool for a semantic contagion strategy, because whilst it is true, and using absolute and dramatic terms like ‘death’, lends a certain urgency (as it should), that is not the final agenda of the pro-drug advocate.
Of course, no Harm Reductionist who hates drugs and wants drug users off these life diminishing toxins wants a user to die. However, the pro-drug use proponent will hide behind the hijacked nomenclature of ‘preventing death’ (only one of many other life destroying harms of drug use), not for the purpose of exiting drug use and develop full humanity, instead it is to continue drug use whilst managing as many ‘harms to the high’ that can be mustered.
Again, the important Harm Reduction platform was set up to assist those current drug users, reduce the activity that is causing harm, not just the ‘harm’ of the self-destructive activity they are now – if dependant – trapped in. The intent of this was always, reduce use, reduce harm, and exit drug use.
However, this well-meaning platform, when employed by those who not only want to, by deliberate design, move into illicit drug use, but endeavour to normalize their ‘recreational’ choices, have – used semantic contagion – (among other strategies) to give their agenda some traction.
Nowhere is this more evident that with Pill Checking program promotion.
You will note there have been zero harmful incidents over the consumption of illicit substances at any music festivals for around 18 months. This is confirming at least one fact, that these events are a contagion in and of themselves for the potential of the Non-Communicable Drug Disease (NCD) of substance use. These events heighten and do not diminish both the exposure and susceptibility factors in aetiology that exacerbates this NCD.
That aside, the well-meaning agenda of the genuine Harm Reductionist, may be to
It is the more potent and tangible messaging of such a (if permitted by law) mechanism that undermines the other two priority pillars of the National Drug Strategy – Demand and Supply Reduction. This vehicle tacitly affirms the act of seeking out a ‘party enhancement’ substance – undermining Demand Reduction. This demand consequently only adds to the supply driver – undermining Supply Reduction. Both actively undermining these priority pillars of the National Drug Strategy.
You do not ‘extinct’ a behaviour by endorsing, equipping and enabling it. However, that no longer seems to be a focus with illicit drug use by a small, but noisy cohort. Yet in the same National Drug Strategy, the cessation focus is the only model for tobacco, and with remarkable success.
So, why is this actively avoided in the illicit drug use space? We’ll let you investigate this incongruence at your leisure.
Those permission models, particularly for punters who wants to experiment, is a green light hard to resist, especially when ‘nestled in’ among other contagions, such as peer pressure, ‘psycho-naut’ propaganda and the parochial permission of this now ‘drug law free’ arena called a Music Festival.
All of this does not eliminate the risk of drug use harm – even of the now ‘checked and permitted’ variety, if for no other reason than illicit substances are toxins and unpredictably idiosyncratic in nature and impact.
Death, whilst a drastic and instantly permanent outcome of substance use is tragic, there are other harms that can be incurred, some of which are also not only debilitating, but can be permanent; and ‘endorsement’ mechanisms that permit activities that can facilitate those harms is not good public health practice.
Governments of civil society are supposed to provide safe, healthy and productive environments for their citizens. Environments that are protective, not mere ‘risk mitigating’ spaces.
Whilst some citizens may seek to live counter to such priorities and expect to create a culture that not only undermines best health and well-being practice, but extol its ‘virtues’, they still continue to look to the same government for assistance when things go ‘pear shaped’. Often with a view to maximize their well-being whilst choosing to remain in a drug use – and a consequently self-harming – context.
Legislatively endorsed pill-checking is incongruent with best-practice health strategies and clearly current illicit drug laws. The simple mantra, ‘they’re gunna do it anyway’ has never been a credible precedent for best practice strategies, at least in an ethically focused civil society.
It is important that all the semantic texts and subtexts are investigated.
For further reading.
The Communications Team – Dalgarno Institute
These are the facts — if you’re getting high by yourself (or hell, with a group of friends), you’re not getting high safely.
The only true way to get high safely is under the care of a nurse or a doctor.
Is that possible? Rarely.
There are places in some cities that have needle exchange services where you can essentially shoot up under the supervision of a nurse (maybe a doctor, I don’t know, I’ve never been to one).
(‘Harm Reduction’ Methods – helping people get ‘High – more saferer’? Hmmm?)
These places do their best to help you get high safely.
For example, they give you sterile needles, they give you supplies to clean yourself before and after you shoot up, and they stand by with naloxone (for heroin addicts) in case you fall out (overdose).
But this is just for people who are getting high by shooting up.
What about everyone else? I rarely shot up, and when I did, I was super careful, but being careful does NOT equal being safe.
There’s No Such Thing as a Truly Safe Way to Get High
I’m going to assume if you’re reading this that you’re an adult and can make your own decisions about using drugs.
And I’m going to say this again — getting high isn’t safe, period.
There are so, so, many ways it can go wrong, and each drug has different ways that it can go wrong.
ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) refers to traumatic incidents in childhood. They were identified in the epidemiological CDC-Kaiser ACE Study that surveyed 17,000 participants. The Study looked at how 10 types of childhood trauma (ACEs) affected a person’s long-term health. They included:
Secondhand drinking refers to the negative impacts a person’s drinking behaviors [or other drug use behaviours] has on others.
Drinking behaviors are typically unintentional (unless they are the behaviors a person exhibits when not drinking). They are the result of the ethyl alcohol chemicals in alcoholic beverages interrupting the brain’s normal cell-to-cell communication system while “waiting” to be metabolized by enzymes in the liver. This occurs at an average rate of 1 hour for each “standard drink,” which is defined as 5 ounces of table wine or 12 ounces of regular beer or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor. Drinking patterns that cause drinking behaviors include binge drinking, alcohol abuse, and alcoholism.
Common drinking behaviors include: verbal, physical, emotional abuse; neglect; blackouts; sexual assault; breaking promises to stop or cut down; shaming, blaming, denying; domestic violence; unpredictable behaviors; alcohol-induced crime; and driving while impaired, to name a few.
Coping with these drinking behaviors causes serious physical and emotional and quality of life impacts – especially for the family and within that, especially for the children. These impacts are the consequence of toxic stress. Toxic stress changes brain and body health and function, which can cause a person to experience migraines, anxiety, depression, stomach ailments, sleep disorders, autoimmune disorders, changes in eating habits, and so much more. Toxic stress also causes a person to adopt unhealthy, toxic stress-related, reactionary coping skills (explosive anger, physically lashing out, shutting down emotionally, as examples).
Click here for more on the Harms of Second-hand Drinking
Abusing drugs at early ages makes a rocky period of development even rockier. Behavioral changes stemming from drug use is common among young people who use substances. Some drug users in the 18-25 age range may show, a result of their drug use, that:
Drug addiction on the developing brain also affects other neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, which is responsible for stabilizing moods and regulating emotions; gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), a chemical that regulates the stress response and lowers anxiety naturally; and norepinephrine, which is known as the stress hormone and speeds up the body’s “fight or flight” response.
“Believe it or not, teens still listen to their parents. In fact, kids usually listen to their parents more than anybody else, including their friends. In a recent survey on underage drinking, teens reported that parental disapproval is the number one reason they choose not to drink.
Around puberty, most children naturally begin to push away from their parents. It is a normal part of development. However, as a result, many parents feel they’ve suddenly lost the ability to influence their teenagers. Well, great news: That is not true. While parents may feel their teens are tuning them out and are no longer listening to their advice, their teenage children are reporting just the opposite. So, as a parent, keep talking; keep trying. You do make a difference!”
(USA, December 2020)