Thanks to Andy via the ADCA Update list for this:
“Psychoactive drugs are everywhere. Any discussion of drug use needs to take this into account. The broad category of “psychoactive drugs” consists of natural and synthetic substances that alter a person’s thoughts or feelings. There exist hundreds of plants, which, if eaten, smoked, snorted, or injected, will affect the mind—whether acting as a stimulant, depressant, or psychedelic. Thousands of known chemicals will do the same. Used recreationally, medicinally, or for work, some are illegal and others not: They include coffee, wine, and tobacco; prescription pain medications, sleep aids, and antidepressants; as well as cannabis, LSD, and heroin. Psychoactives are in the kitchen, in the hardware store, in the greenhouse, in home medicine cabinets, and in fuel tanks across the country.
Everyone uses them. Would you believe that nearly 90% of 45-year-olds in the United States have tried an illegal drug in their lifetime? As of 2006, more than 35 million Americans had taken an illicit drug in the previous year. Monitoring the Future (MTF), the best current survey about illegal drug use in the United States, reports that one in five college students used an illicit drug in the past month. Nearly all adults in the U.S. have tried alcohol, while over 80% use caffeine daily. Last year there were over 180 million prescriptions written for opiates alone, and a diverse assortment of psychoactives are increasingly used by older Americans from coast to coast.
They are not going away. Humans have used psychoactive substances for as long as we have records and some of the largest corporations in the world are actively developing new ones for the future. There is no magic bullet that will suddenly make these compounds disappear from our society. If there were, the past century of ever-increasing penalties for possession and sale of recreationally used drugs, along with massive anti-drug “education” campaigns, would have reduced use. But they have not.
The United States has implemented random drug testing of junior high and high school students who participate in chess club. No-knock warrants allow police to invade private homes with guns drawn in case a suspect might try to flush illegal drugs down the toilet. Taxpayers spend 8 billion dollars each year to incarcerate drug law offenders,[8,9] and pay for ideologically driven, abstinence-only education programs that are so factually misleading that they often fail to acknowledge the pleasurable or useful effects of the substances they teach about.
Despite these extreme measures, a majority of the population age 18-65 has chosen to try an illegal drug. The mainstream reaction is to continue the calls for “getting tougher.” Instead of working towards unrealistic, naïve goals such as a “drug free century,” our response has been to step back and reassess, asking: How can society adapt to the realities of the communication age and develop more sophistication and balance regarding the use of psychoactive drugs?
Modern humans must learn how to relate to psychoactives responsibly, treating them with respect and awareness, working to minimize harms and maximize benefits, and integrating use into a healthy, enjoyable, and productive life. But above all else, in a world filled with materials and technologies that affect the mind, adults must have the robust education and accurate, pragmatic information necessary to help them take charge of their relationships with psychoactives and teach their children how to do so from an early age.
I couldn’t disagree with a lot there – psychoactives have only ever been on the perimeter of mainstream drug education, usually due to a somewhat legitimate fear of widening the use options for young people. WHat do you think – how would you mainstream education on psychoactives?