Singapore is seeing its worst recession in decades. Many Singaporeans have already lost their jobs while others have their salaries cut.
and a roof over our heads.
The drug debate takes place without reference to other causes of harm in society, which tends to give drugs a different, more worrying, status. In this article, I share experience of another harmful addiction I have called equasy...He goes on to describe some of the injuries, including brain damage, that you can get from falling off horses. After arguing that horseriding is in some ways comparable to ecstasy in terms of its dangerousness he concludes:
Perhaps this illustrates the need to offer a new approach to considering what underlies society’s tolerance of potentially harmful activities and how this evolves over time (e.g. fox hunting, cigarette smoking). A debate on the wider issues of how harms are tolerated by society and policy makers can only help to generate a broad based and therefore more relevant harm assessment process that could cut through the current ill-informed debate about the drug harms? The use of rational evidence for the assessment of the harms of drugs will be one step forward to the development of a credible drugs strategy.Or, in other words, we need to ask why we are more concerned about the harms of illicit drugs than we are the harms of, say, sports. No-one ever suggests that the existence of sporting injuries means that we ought to ban sports. Ecstasy is certainly not completely safe. People do die from taking it and it may cause other more subtle harms. But people die and get hurt by falling off horses. Even if it turns out that on an hour-by-hour basis, you're more likely to die riding a horse than dancing on ecstasy (quite possible), no-one would think to ban riding and legalize E. But why not?
This attitude raises the critical question of why society tolerates –indeed encourages – certain forms of potentially harmful behaviour but not others, such as drug use.Which is an extremely good question. It remains a good question even if it turns out that horse-riding is much safer than ecstasy. These are just the two examples that Nutt happened to pick, presumably because it allowed him to make that cheeky pun. Comparing the harms of such different activities is fraught with pitfalls anyway - are we talking about the harms of pure MDMA, or street ecstasy? Do we include people injured by horses indirectly (e.g. due to road accidents?)
For me that makes light of a serious problem, trivialises the dangers of drugs, shows insensitivity to the families of victims of ecstasy and sends the wrong message to young people about the dangers of drugs.I'm not sure how many "young people" or parents of ecstasy victims read the Journal of Psychopharmacology, but I can't see how anyone could be offended by the Equasy article. Except perhaps people who enjoy hunting foxes while riding horses (Nutt compares this to drug-fuelled violence). Nutt's editorial was intended to point out that discussion over drugs is often irrational, and to call for a serious, evidence-based debate. It is not really about ecstasy, or horses, but about the way in which we conceptualize drugs and their harms. Clearly, that's just a step too far.