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Drugs posted 07 April 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDrugs by Brent, Commoner

I have always found American phrases such as "Real Life is Drug Free" and "The War on Drugs" laughable.

Drugs are substances taken to alter cognitive and/or physical function broadly speaking. If they are taken to compensate or correct for dysfunction (transient or permanent), then surely most of us would acknowledge they serve a useful purpose, e.g., narcotic pain medication after a painful injury or antibiotic ointment to prevent infection in a cut.

However, when substances are taken to alter cognitive and/or physical function without any obvious pre-existing dysfunction...this is the basis of recreational use (and I guess religious use also if we think of peyote in native american religions, etc.). This is the only venue where I think there is any moral quandry. The two most pervasive such substances are alcohol and tobacco.

I don't think these drugs are evil, though they have caused tremendous human suffering, debilitation, and disease. I don't think "illegal" drugs are inherently evil either. When any of them are utilized however, the user HAS to understand and accept the potential side affects (of which addiction is one). This requires that a person be competent to make decisions for him or herself and that they have access to "full disclosure" of what these drugs can or will do to them. The current body of laws, medical licensing through the DEA in the US and such is a stirring testament to how much faith governments have in their citizens being able to make such decisions.

I guess the only thing that bothers me is the concept of early exposure to drugs or alcohol. Most preteens and teens are not capable of making mature decisions. Once you've reached the age of consent however, I think there is no justifiable reason to outlaw narcotics, stimulants, depressents, hallucinogens, or marijuana any more or less than there is to outlaw alcohol and tobacco.

That said, I drink good English ales and excellent (but affordable) Italian wines when I can - generally in moderation. After enough alcohol however (on rare occasions), I occasional develop a profound sensation of detachment from the physical world around me - puppetmaster of myself or buffered from reality. I do not feel creative in this mode but instead like I'm in a coccoon within myself. I have never consumed "illegal" drugs nor do I think I ever will. I enjoy the occasional cigar or pipe but loathe cigarettes and chewing tobacco. view post


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