pageok
pageok
pageok
The War on Terror vs. The War on Drugs II:

Earlier this summer, I blogged about how our misguided War on Drugs is impeding the War on Terror by strengthening the Taliban. This recent CBS News report has further proof:

Up almost 50 percent from last year, more opium than ever is being grown in southern Afghanistan — the area where the Taliban fighters are strongest. And almost five years after the government was pushed out of Kabul, opium poppies are spreading like weeds, financing the Taliban's comeback.

"The Taliban is starting to tell people on the ground that they must grow poppies and the reason is because they want the money. So, they're getting money from the poppy growth," says CBS News consultant Jere Van Dyke.

If the US were to legalize drugs, it would be difficult, probably impossible for the Taliban to compete with legal drug producers and their main revenue source would dry up. Even if the US were to take the far less radical step of simply stopping its efforts to forcibly eradicate poppy fields in the parts of Afghanistan controlled by US and allied forces (as I advocated in my previous post on the subject linked above), the resulting competition would diminish the Taliban's profits. Furthermore, as I also noted in that post, stopping the US-led opium-eradication campaign would eliminate one of the main reasons for popular support of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. If I were a poor Afghan peasant and the US-led Coalition were trying to eliminate my only source of income, while the Taliban was actually helping me on that score, I might be tempted to support them as well.

I recognize, of course, that it is politically unrealistic to expect the Bush Administration to abandon the War on Drugs completely. But I hope they can at least recognize the wisdom of stopping the poppy eradication campaign in Afghanistan. They need not even make a public announcement about it or admit that they were wrong. Reasonable people can differ about whether or not the War on Drugs is a good idea. But even those who support it wholeheartedly should consider whether it is really important enough to risk undermining the War on Terror.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. The War on Terror vs. The War on Drugs II:
  2. The War on Drugs vs. The War on Terror
  3. War on Drugs versus War on Terrorists:
fishbane (mail):
There are lots of efforts underway to conflate them. You're already too late, I'm afraid. Not that the "War on Terror" makes any more sense than the "War on Drugs" did.

If you haven't seen the ads, they are worth watching, if only for black humor - white, middle class kids, via grainy video, admit to helping Teh Terrorists by way of smoking the devil's weed. (Evidence of the Northern California Hippy-Islamo-pick-a-mean-word nexus is not included in the disclosure blurb at the end, but they do take a dig at hippies smelling bad.)

Whatever it takes, really. But it strikes me as sad that definding the GWOT (or whatever they want to call it this week) has to be the reason why we stop counterproductive, expensive nonsense with regards to drugs.

How much like China do we, in fact, wish to be?
9.4.2006 3:12am
Lev:
We could help set up distribution into China, a huge market, it's been done before. And it would help the Chinese with how to occupy the time of their young men, since there is a huge imbalance of men as compared to women.
9.4.2006 3:46am
Disagrees With Ilya (mail):

If the US were to legalize drugs, it would be difficult, probably impossible for the Taliban to compete with legal drug producers and their main revenue source would atrophy.



Eradicating poppy cultivation by removing the profit incentive to cultivate poppy would impoverish most Afghanis. Making Afghanistan poorer, especially impoverishing its young male population, would not benefit the War on Terror -- it would radicalize young Afghani males who would resent America for impoverishing them, and thus likely enhance the Taliban's recrutiment efforts. Legalizing drugs in the United States would make the War on Terror harder to fight by multiplying the ranks of our enemy in Afghanistan.
9.4.2006 4:15am
Ross Levatter (mail):
I seem to recall that the Taliban, being a highly religious group, themselves worked rather successfully to eradicate heroin production in Afghanistan back when they controlled the area. I believe Poppy production exploded after the US took the Taliban out.

Ilya's statement "Reasonable people can differ about whether or not the War on Drugs is a good idea" is wrong on two levels. On one level, anyone with even a basic understanding of the economics of prohibition knows what the result of the War on Drugs (strictly, a war on illicit drug producers, manufacturers, middlemen, and consumers) has to be. So reasonable people can't really differ on it. On another level, "reasonable people" can no more oppose the war on drugs in this country at this time than "reasonable people" in Catholic Europe could oppose burning witches and heretics during the Crusades. Part of our current definition of reasonableness is signing on to fight and expand a fruitless drug war.
9.4.2006 5:17am
Malvolio:
Eradicating poppy cultivation by removing the profit incentive to cultivate poppy would impoverish most Afghanis.
Uh, no. The high price of heroin is caused by the difficulty and risk of transporting the opium in Oruzgan Province to 125th Street.

If drug prohibition were dispelled tomorrow, the price of junk on the street would drop precipitously but the price the farmers back in Afghanistan get would change only slowly, with the immediate increase in demand being slowly offset by poppy acreage increasing in other countries.
9.4.2006 5:35am
Jeek:
Is anyone even seriously talking about legalizing heroin? It is certainly completely unrealistic to expect that a powerful and addictive drug of this sort will be legalized. Nor is it intuitively obvious that the "war" against this particular destructive substance is inherently "misguided" and thus should be abandoned.
9.4.2006 6:08am
PersonFromPorlock:
One problem proponents of legalization overlook is that the existing drug dealers, already violent, may protect their market simply by killing 'legal' competitors. Legitimate businessmen are likely to lose interest when Pfizer's Vice President for Recreational Pharmaceuticals goes up with a loud bang in the company parking lot.

Mind you, I'm all in favor of legalization but this is a problem that needs to be considered.
9.4.2006 8:14am
sksmith (mail):
Jeek-
I'm with you. Get past the sloganeering and posturing, and people here seem to be saying we need to legalize heroin (Heroin!!) so that a few tenant farmers in southeast Afghanistan aren't as wealthy. Totally loony.

Steve
9.4.2006 9:13am
Federal Dog:
Person from Porlock--


That is precisely my concern. In addition, any legislators seriously proposing to legalize controlled substances would be sitting ducks.
9.4.2006 9:54am
Still Disagrees with Ilya (mail):
Uh, no. The high price of heroin is caused by the difficulty and risk of transporting the opium in Oruzgan Province to 125th Street.

You seem to be presuming that Afghanis don't know what the heroin will be sold for on the street, and so don't charge a premium (that would evaporate once the street price drops, even if their cost of production remains constant).

I seem to recall that the Taliban, being a highly religious group, themselves worked rather successfully to eradicate heroin production in Afghanistan back when they controlled the area.

1. You recall incorrectly; the Taliban took control of -- rather than eradicated -- poppy production. Sure, overall poppy production when down, but the Taliban was in on the cultivating that was still taking place. 2. You assume that today's Taliban is yesterday's Taliban and that religious zealotry is all they care about. Not so. They have no problem producing poppy that will be sold to infidels to raise money for their operations.
9.4.2006 10:18am
AnandaG:
One problem proponents of legalization overlook is that the existing drug dealers, already violent, may protect their market simply by killing 'legal' competitors. Legitimate businessmen are likely to lose interest when Pfizer's Vice President for Recreational Pharmaceuticals goes up with a loud bang in the company parking lot.

Right, just like the presidents of Coors and Brown-Forman were murdered by already-violent bootleggers trying to hang on to their market share. Wait, what? They weren't, and this was a complete non-problem when Prohibition was repealed? Oops.

People who talk about "a few tenant farmers in Afghanistan" are just deluded about the effect the drug war has on global organized crime. It is their life's blood. Just as alcohol prohibition literally created modern organized crime in America and Canada, so too has drug prohibition created modern organized crime throughout the globe. Heroin is a dangerous drug; so is alcohol, so is nicotine. It may not be "intuitively obvious" that the drug war should end, but upon some sincere consideration of the facts, both about the real nature of these substances and the abject failure of even the most draconian policies to eliminate or even substantially reduce the drug trade, no reasonable person can maintain that the drug war is good policy.
9.4.2006 11:34am
PersonFromPorlock:
...already-violent bootleggers...

Not remotely as violent. Compared to (for instance) the Medellín Cartel, the Chicago mob were a bunch of Shriners.
9.4.2006 12:14pm
whip_lash (mail):
Al Qaeda trades in daimonds, a perfectly legitimate commodity, and does so because it's willing to buy conflict diamonds, as well as probably to kill and extort competitors. Breaking the law is a competitve advantage when dealing with legit companies, and it's not like these guys have anything to lose.
9.4.2006 12:42pm
Hank:
No, reasonable people cannot differ about whether the War on Drugs is a good idea. After decades of its having been responsible for most of the crime in the U.S., ruined far more lives and broken up far more families than drugs ever could, being used as a successor to slavery and Jim Crow to keep African-Americans in their place, costing the taxpayers untold billions, and imprisoning people for the exercise of the most basic civil liberty of control over their own bodies, and, on top of all that, not reducing drug use, the drug war has been proven, beyond argument, to be unreasonable.
9.4.2006 1:32pm
Third Party Beneficiary (mail):
"being used as a successor to slavery and Jim Crow to keep African-Americans in their place,"

PJ O'Rourke has pointed out that to many middle and upper-class white Americans this is a feature, not a bug, of the War on Drugs.
9.4.2006 1:40pm
AppSocRes (mail):
The War on Drugs is essentially an an implicit conspiracy between two completely ruthless groups of people: (1) drug processors, manufacturers, traffickers, and distributors who need government enforcement to keep prices and profits high; and (2) the vast numbers of government agents who make a living off enforcing the drug laws or participating in various government-financed anti-drug efforts.

Heroin is a drug that is far less addictive than nicotine and probably less addictive than caffeine. When used in moderation it can provide great pleasure with far fewer harmful side effects than most legal drugs (nicotine, alcohol, etc., etc.) That a small minority of users become enslaved by the drug is hardly a sensible reason for totally outlawing it. If it were then we should start by outlawing far more dangerously addictive substances such as chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.

I work in the area of substance abuse policy and the longer I've done so the more cynical I've become about the whole field. The only major immediate harm that would come from legalizing all drugs would be to put me and the literally millions like me who are government-subsidized soldiers in the War on Drugs out of work and on the unemployment roles.
9.4.2006 1:44pm
Bruce:
What percentage of the poppy crop is exported to the U.S.? If it's small, then legalizing drugs here will have little impact.
9.4.2006 2:04pm
Fub:
PersonFromPorlock wrote:
One problem proponents of legalization overlook is that the existing drug dealers, already violent, may protect their market simply by killing 'legal' competitors.
Federal Dog wrote:

That is precisely my concern. In addition, any legislators seriously proposing to legalize controlled substances would be sitting ducks.
21 U.S.C. Section 1703(b)(12) requires that ONDCP take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance that is in Controlled Substances Act Schedule I, and has not been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.

So assuming hypothetically that Federal Dog's concern is accurate and such a crime actually happened or was imminent, has Congress legally or morally mandated that the Executive should encourage, defend or disregard it?

The legal answer is trivially "No". But the moral position of the Congress and the Executive also seems obvious.

The murderer would be merely an overzealous vigilante, using illegal means to assist the Executive in enforcing an otherwise valid mandate of the Congress.
9.4.2006 3:22pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
We could help set up distribution into China, a huge market, it's been done before. And it would help the Chinese with how to occupy the time of their young men, since there is a huge imbalance of men as compared to women.

Reminds me of an article I once read in an Arizona newspaper in the 1870s. It noted that ordinary poppies grew all over the Phoenix valley (the climate was wetter then) and suggested someone take a try at growing opium poppies. The Chinese would trade only for silver or opium, so Arizona could grow opium, ship it via railroad to California, send it to China, get their goods in return ... Phoenix would become the major hub of a new international commerce. Just say yes to drugs!

Interesting social commentary: in 1870, you could buy laudanum over the counter, and growing opium was viewed as one more source of cash for farmers. Half a century later you had federal laws against it. I wonder what social change underlay this? Urbanization and the perception of crime problems? A concerted campaign by new interest groups?
9.4.2006 4:01pm
Rodger Lodger (mail):
"I recognize, of course, that it is politically unrealistic to expect the Bush Administration to abandon the War on Drugs completely". Right. I can name other administrations that would so abandon it [sarcasm].
9.4.2006 4:40pm
Enoch:
Heroin is a drug that is far less addictive than nicotine and probably less addictive than caffeine. When used in moderation it can provide great pleasure with far fewer harmful side effects than most legal drugs (nicotine, alcohol, etc., etc.) That a small minority of users become enslaved by the drug is hardly a sensible reason for totally outlawing it. If it were then we should start by outlawing far more dangerously addictive substances such as chocolate, caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine.

Sources for these claims?

The idea that heroin is less harmful and less addictive than caffeine and alcohol (and chocolate!) - and thus can more safely be "casually used" - seems laughable. Yet I am willing to be educated on this score.
9.4.2006 5:54pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Enoch: One standard lab test for the severity of physical addiction that a substance can create is to measure how frequently rats will press a lever to get a fix of the substance in question. Rats will literally die from starvation while seeking their nicotine or caffeine fixes. They will at least occassionaly pause to eat and drink when getting their heroin fix. I personally know individuals who have not used heroin for more than five year, but have not been able to wean themselves from nicotine and/or caffeine.

That almost everyone in this country is so severely addicted to caffeine is either an argument that caffeine should be outlawed or an argument that making a less addictive drug like heroin legal might not have all the adverse consequences people imagine.

Severe alcohol addiction literally requires medical intervention during withdrawal or the patient will die. (The same is true of barbiturate withdrawal.) Withdrawal from heroin is a very mild experience (romantic stories by heroin addicts notwithstanding).

Heroin addicts have no trouble dealing with their addiction when no drugs are available. In my neck of the woods going into heroin treatment is referred to on the street as "getting a tuneup": A reference to the fact that persistent addicts who have become tolerant of the doses they can afford often go into treatment just so they can recover some of the pleasure they used to get from their drug.

From a purely medical standpoint heroin is less addictive than nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine. I'm not sure about the psycho-active ingredients in chocolate. That admittedly was hyperbole on my part.
9.4.2006 6:51pm
Abandon:
AppSocRes


Heroin addicts have no trouble dealing with their addiction when no drugs are available.


I truly wonder which kind of fantasy world one lives in for writing this (and, I presume, meaning it without any form of sarcasm).

As a social worker (working in the streets), I must react to this incoherent claim. Those who live with heroin addiction, as sad as it is to say, never recover from it. Never. In some cases, one dose is enough to permanently damage and unbalance the brain. The problem is a physical rather than a psychological one: no matter how much they want to overcome their addiction, they physically need heroin (or methadone) for the rest of their lives (in most addiction cases). For many, ceasing drastically to take the drug can even be lethal and, in all cases, may be (and should be...) done under medical supervision. Unlikely to happen to most, if not all, of the coffee drinkers you refered to...
9.4.2006 7:45pm
Ross Levatter (mail):
As a physician, I'd have to agree with most of what AppSocRes has written. The standard layman reference--highly detailed--is Licit and Illicit Drugs: The Consumers Union Report on Narcotics, Stimulants, Depressants, Inhalants, Hallucinogens, and Marijuana - Including Caffeine by Edward M. Brecher.

Abandon, if he writes sincerely, is simply fooling himself or generalizing from a skewed personal sample. Many, many US GIs returning from Vietnam hooked on heroin gave it up cold turkey without difficulty on returning to the states.
9.4.2006 10:32pm
AppSocRes (mail):
Abandon: Based on what you've written here, I find it impossible to believe you've had any real contact with heroin users.

Ross Levatter: Thank you for backing me up on some of the points I made in my earlier post.

Fifteen years of working at a variety of different levels in the area of substance abuse treatment and substance abuse policy has made one thing completely clear to me: There is a dirty little secret in substance abuse policy and substance abuse prevention and treatment that almost no one is willing to acknowledge. That secret is that people ingest psycho-active substances because they enjoy doing so.

The heroin user does not increase his dosage of heroin because increased tolerance makes it unbearable not to do so. He does it to try and recover the original high that he experienced when he first began using. The heroin user does not experience excruciating illness when he is forced to stop using. The worst discomfort of heroin withdrawal resembles a mild case of the flu and lassts for a day or two. What the withdrawing heroin user does experience is a craving for the good feelings that he gets when he uses heroin. This craving is strong (anyone who's dieted has experienced a similar craving for food) but it is not all that difficult to control.

What I've said for heroin goes for most other abused substances. Some substances like nicotine and caffeine are such that the cravings are greater and the symptoms of withdrawal more intense and long-lasting. Some substances, e.g., alcohol and barbiturates and perhaps some methamphetamines, absolutely require medical assistance during withdrawal from severe, long-term abuse. But most illegal substances either have no potential for addiction or produce a mild physical dependence that may be accompanied by a hard-to-control craving for the pleasurable experiences induced by the substance.

Finally, most users of illegal substances in the US do not, in fact, abuse these drugs. Data from the Annual National Household Survey of Substance Abuse suggest that most drug users are occassional users of small amounts. I think it is safe to assume that these individuals are enjoying their drugs the same way occassional users of alcohol enjoy theirs. Some users, as is the case with any enjoyable activity, succumb to extreme hedonism and lose control of their lives.

It is an absurdity that US substance policy should be tailored to try and save this smnall minority of substance users from their own recklessness, fecklessness, and folly. It is doubly absurd when these policies fail to achieve even that goal. It becomes a tragedy when these policies generate enormous amounts of violence and crime, destroy the lives of millions of Americans, suck away limited social resources, and deny scores of millions of Americans the licit enjoyment of harmless pleasures.
9.4.2006 11:36pm
Joshua (www):
Of course, I trust you all realize that all the scientific and medical claims bandied about on both sides are little more than window dressing for the real issue - that being that the "war on drugs" is really little more than another front in the American culture wars. Cultural conservatives fear legalization for the same core reason they fear gay marriage - it amounts to giving legal sanction to what they regard as sinful behavior.
9.5.2006 11:29am
daksya (mail) (www):
Still Disagrees with Ilya - You seem to be presuming that Afghanis don't know what the heroin will be sold for on the street, and so don't charge a premium (that would evaporate once the street price drops, even if their cost of production remains constant).

Well, the farmers don't. According to the 2006 UN World Drug Report, the 2004 inflation-adjusted retail price for heroin on the street in the US was $157, whereas the wholesale price in the US was $71.

Other stats include:

Total farm-gate value of opium production: US$0.56 billion

Gross trafficking profits of Afghan traffickers: US$2.14 billion (this still doesn't give complete magnitude of markup as retail prices increase a lot (see above), even after the H has been trafficked in the country.)

Household average yearly gross income from opium of opium growing families: US$1800.
9.5.2006 11:30am
Monty:
The Constitution doesn't give our government the right to be to spend money on this nonsense. Too bad Congress continues to ignore the Constitution.
9.5.2006 11:39am
Shake-N-Bake (www):
My theory on this is that drugs will only be legalized when the day comes that our government is so desperate for revenue (i.e. the deficit becomes so absurdly large they need to do something, and raising taxes on the rich ends up not being enough) that they figure they can open it up and tax the crap out of it. Even with heavy taxes, in all likelihood it would still be cheaper than the current street market prices, and a whole lot safer for buyers (presuming some sort of minimum standards for product).

Of course, I'm not sure this will ever happen. And indeed, at least in the current environment it would be political suicide in most locales to advocate for the legalization of drugs. The statistics from the European countries that have decriminalized or legalized have not shown major increases in use though -- just because you can get it more easily doesn't mean it will change people's behaviors and turn the population into drug addicts. Maybe a few will try some of the drugs, but for many, given our education on what the various drugs do (education that should be continued whether drugs are legalized or not), we aren't going to be using the junk anyways.

Perhaps at some point people will feel that the cost in money and life to fight the war on drugs outweighs the costs of legalization, including possible government revenue from sales of legalized drugs. I think we're quite a ways from that though -- people are going to need a lot more evidence than just that of 3 or 4 European nations, and even then the current trend of a segment of a certain majority religious group to try to have their moral codes turned into state and federal laws might not allow for it.
9.5.2006 12:58pm
Houston Lawyer:
Legalization of heroin would presumably mean doing away with the FDA. That way, everyone could buy whatever substance he wanted to ingest, whether prescribed by a doctor or not. I believe that this would be a boon for pharmaceutical companies, who would no longer be required to jump through administrative hoops. Those seeking highs would probably live shorter lives, but the rest of us may benefit.
9.5.2006 1:14pm
daksya (mail) (www):
Houston Lawyer - Legalization of heroin would presumably mean doing away with the FDA.

No more than repeal of Prohibition in 1933 meant the same thing. The FDA performs a useful task, but mainly related to fact-finding (is this potential medicine effective &safe?). I don't advocate doing away with the FDA, but do advocate stripping it of its paternalistic power. It should not control what gets sold, but it should retain the power to regulate that which is sold, in the form of standardized products, accurate labelling, providing a public informational database on products, and compelling advertisers to remain within the evidence.
9.5.2006 1:55pm
eddie (mail):
When regulating industrial behavior, most "conservatives" require cost benefit analyses and strict adherence thereto. Let's apply this to the "war on drugs".

However, when regulating individual behavior suddenly the morality police show up.

The war on drugs and the war on terror show the bankruptcy and Orwellian obtuseness of our leadership: They simply call it a "war" and then there is an enemy to be reviled so that the masses can rally around our benevolent leadership whose sole function is to preserve and protect.

The two greatest weapons against the bankrolling of any terrorists (including those who are not "Islamofascists"):
stop our addiction to oil (perhaps a "war against oil") and regulation of illegal substances.

But then no one would be making a profit from the suffering. And isn't the prime reason for the existence of democracy to protect the socalled "free" marketplace? [Yes that was a final bit of ranting sarcasm.]
9.5.2006 2:01pm
Confused:
For those who claim that heroin is less addictive than caffeine or chocolate - are we to assume that because a substance is "less addictive" it is somehow less harmful to its users? Clearly, no one posting such ridiculous nonsense has ever lived with a heroin user. Opinions on the justifiability or practicality of the War on Drugs aside, let's not pretend that someone who gets a headache if he doesn't stop at Starbucks on the way to work is in any way, shape or form comparable to someone who sticks a needle in his arm and willingly enters a state of, at best, semi-consciousness. I've not seen any families torn apart, spouses or children abused, or lives ruined because of someone's addiction to coffee or chocolate. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
9.5.2006 5:13pm
lisamarie (mail):
Confused,
I'm curious- do you advocate alcohol prohibition? Alcohol addiction has many of the effects you describe. Do you view it any differently?
9.5.2006 6:26pm
Malvolio:
21 U.S.C. Section 1703(b)(12) requires that ONDCP take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance that is in Controlled Substances Act Schedule I, and has not been approved for use by the Food and Drug Administration.
I googled on this in order to rebut (and, to be perfectly candid, mock) the person who wrote it.

Turns out, wow, it is true almost word for word.

I wonder on what parallel dimension this is Constitutional.
9.5.2006 6:32pm
daksya (mail) (www):
Confused - you bring up a good point. The harm caused by a substance is not strongly related to how addictive it is. The two measures are different. Similarly, how addictive something is depends on how it is used. Shooting or smoking any potent drug like a stimulant or narcotic, makes it much more addictive than taking it orally or even snorting it. This is seen in the case(1) of cocaine, where relative to the usual route of snorting, injecting users are 31 times as likely to become addicted within two years of first use, and smokers 3-4 times more likely. Coming onto the aspects that you refer to, like severity of dependence, the same's true as well, especially for opiates, as shown(2) in this comparative study(3). Most of the controlled(4) users of heroin, are able to control, because they avoid rapid-administration (in this study, 19 of 126 had ever injected). Even injection, if done under medical supervision , can be a managed addiction, as is the case for the treatment-resistant addicts who are enrolled in heroin-maintenance programs in Switzerland(5), Netherlands and the UK(6). Easy, cheap access to heroin is not incompatible(7) with a functioning life. But prohibition creates the opposite of all those qualities: artificially(8) expensive(9), varying and low purity (encouraging methods that provide most bang for the buck, like injecting), and leaves you beholden to a dealer who is not subject to the law. None of that's true for caffeine, but none of that is directly related to caffeine's inherent chemistry or pharmacology, but how easy society has allowed it to be integrated.

(1)Cocaine addiction
(2)Severity of dependence based on method
(3)Charts from above study(scroll down)
(4)Controlled heroin use among long-term users
(5)Swiss heroin trials
(6)British heroin prescription
(7)Nature of heroin harms
(8)Smuggling mark-ups
(9)Drug costs for a heavy user
9.5.2006 6:33pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
AppSocRes' claims are backed up by peer-reviewed studies, as well as quite successful heroin maintenance programs, performed in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Australia and Canada. The US government is blind to this wave of scientific evidence.
9.5.2006 6:37pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Oh, and Confused: I have lived with several heroin users. And I can personally attest that not only is alcohol a far more debilitating drug than heroin, but the vast majority of the destructive effects on families and communities attributed to heroin use are more properly laid at the feet of the Evil War on Drugs.
9.5.2006 6:42pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
I had entered my first post before seeing daksya's; they are complementary. Although I was unaware of the work in the UK, thanks daksya.
9.5.2006 6:54pm
dweeb:
Heroin is a drug that is far less addictive than nicotine and probably less addictive than caffeine

This is a disingenuous remark that overlooks the difference between psychological and physical addiction. No one dies from nicotine or caffeine withdrawal.

One standard lab test for the severity of physical addiction that a substance can create is to measure how frequently rats will press a lever to get a fix of the substance in question.

Because we all know that rats are people.

I personally know individuals who have not used heroin for more than five year, but have not been able(willing?) to wean themselves from nicotine and/or caffeine.

It's so amusing when someone cites scientific research, and then seeks to bolster it with anecdotes. The streets are full of people who have been through multiple cycles of methadone treatment, and most of my parents' generation are ex-smokers with far more than five clean years under their belts.

Severe alcohol addiction literally requires medical intervention during withdrawal or the patient will die.

Of course, this ignores the tens of thousands who've sobered up without such intervention.

Withdrawal from heroin is a very mild experience (romantic stories by heroin addicts notwithstanding).

Sounds like you're the one romanticizing.

AppSocRes' claims are backed up by peer-reviewed studies

OF RATS. Despite what PETA claims, rats are not even primates, let alone humans.

From a purely medical standpoint heroin is less addictive than nicotine, alcohol, or caffeine

No, from a psychological standpoint it is less addictive than TOBACCO, not nicotine, because of the short administration/reinforcement cycle of smoking.
Show of hands - how many people here know someone who quit smoking with no medical assistance?
Sounds like somebody has a policy axe to grind and is bending the truth to do it. I don't even disagree with legalization - I just have a prerequisite - elimination of any and all government programs that may serve to use my tax dollars to support, rehabilitate, or otherwise insulate drug users from the consequences of their choices. Tobacco use disgusts me, but I know hundreds of smokers (and a few functional drunks) who work and support themselves and don't do anything to burden society with their vices.
9.5.2006 7:34pm
daksya (mail) (www):
dweeb - Sounds like you're the one romanticizing

Theodore Dalrymple disagrees, "I have witnessed thousands of addicts withdraw; and, notwithstanding the histrionic displays of suffering, provoked by the presence of someone in a position to prescribe substitute opiates, and which cease when that person is no longer present, I have never had any reason to fear for their safety from the effects of withdrawal. It is well known that addicts present themselves differently according to whether they are speaking to doctors or fellow addicts. In front of doctors, they will emphasize their suffering; but among themselves, they will talk about where to get the best and cheapest heroin.

When, unbeknown to them, I have observed addicts before they entered my office, they were cheerful; in my office, they doubled up in pain and claimed never to have experienced suffering like it, threatening suicide unless I gave them what they wanted. When refused, they often turned abusive, but a few laughed and confessed that it had been worth a try
".
9.5.2006 8:01pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
Dweeb's handle fits him/her. I would suggest that dweeb actually look at the science involved, before condemning it.

And, before condemning the personal experience of those such as AppSocRes and I as anecdotal. When he/she has spent 24 hours through booking IN THE CELLS, with people detoxing, dweeb will have room to talk.
9.5.2006 10:20pm
dweeb:
Kevin,
And your point is? Cases of mild heroin withdrawal are probably the 60% of users who are estimated not to have a consistent enough supply to become truly addicted, and, as I said, there are far more ex-smokers and ex-drunks than there are ex-heroin users.

All this is irrelevant to the legalization question, if one is a libertarian. The only relevant issue is whether users are likely to be dependent upon government social programs. The working world is full of alcoholics and smokers, and as long as they don't have their hand out, I don't care what they do. That's not been the case for heroin users. I'll gladly support legalization when I can be reasonably sure I won't be forced to subsidize users, and, based on their track record, that means when the welfare state is completely dismantled.
9.6.2006 6:09pm
lisamarie (mail):
dweeb
I understand your point about not subsidizing users. But I think it's likely that subsidizing the ill effects of legalized heroin use would cost much less than what we currently dump into ill-conceived and ineffective efforts to stamp out drug use with the WoD. I would rather pay for neither one, but legalization seems like the less expensive evil.
9.6.2006 6:16pm
Bill S (mail):
The premise of this discussion is incorrect - The War on Drugs *helps* The War on Terror. Both of those "wars" strengthen government control and influence by giving the government Enemies that Must be Stopped at Any Price. Without the convenient funding provided by opium and cocaine sales, revolutionaries and terrorists and other thugs around the world would have to find other sources of funding (though oil certainly helps fill in the gaps.)

Things were looking pretty bleak during the 90s when everybody was realizing that Communism was really gone except in a couple of backwater countries and we could return to civilized life without the threat of nuclear war hanging over our heads, but just as the ban on marihuana gave the Prohibitionists something to do after the country told them to leave our liquor alone, colonialism in the Middle East (including the Iran-Iraq war and the First US-Iraq war) annoyed enough people that the military has some enemies again, giving them an excuse to attack Saddam Hussein again in spite of his non-support for bin Laden.
9.6.2006 6:21pm
Fub:
dweeb wrote:
... and, as I said, there are far more ex-smokers and ex-drunks than there are ex-heroin users.
At any given time there are far more smokers and drunks than there are heroin users. Even if they all quit at once there would be far more ex-smokers and ex-drunks than ex-heroin users.

I'm not sure what the assertion, was supposed to prove. But it's pretty clear that it proves nothing.

As a fraction of their categories, ie: #ex-smokers/#smokers, etc., the numbers might have some meaning about how difficult each addiction can be overcome.
9.6.2006 8:00pm