King’s College, London was right to use students for their research into the effects of cocaine, writes Aida Fatemi
Let’s face it, many of us know people who have taken recreational drugs, be it something less serious like cannabis all the way up to Class A drugs like cocaine. Despite all the warning signs from the government preaching about the dangers of these drugs, they don’t seem to be in decline. One of the main reasons for this is the mere fact that talking about drugs in any great depth – be it on television, or radio, by the government or the NHS – is taboo. All we really hear is just how they are awful, and that they could kill you with just one snort, pill or shot.
This kind of wording may have worked on some, but for others it has done little to deter them and more to attract them to the allure of forbidden substances. It has drawn them into an edgy, risky, notorious world that they think is exclusively theirs, and out of the law’s control – it makes them feel cool and rebellious. As sad as this notion is, it is true for many people.
Moreover, it’s not just their social circles that encourage the substance abuse but – paradoxically – our modern day culture. Many people who may have dabbled in the odd ecstasy pill or weed smoking at university move into fast-paced, high pressured industries like banks, law firms, television companies, and other large corporations. No doubt, they will come across recreational drugs again. However, worse still, working people will have more pressurising jobs than students and more cash to burn.
So, the cycle begins again – their social circles at work will be using cocaine as a drug to keep them working through the long, anti-social hours, and maybe even to help them unwind and party hard; hence the drug use will restart and become more intense.
However, no-one in these environments ever seems to mind. People who enter these industries, whether they partake in the drug use or not, just accept this drug culture as the norm. So clearly the adverts to deter drug use, even of Class A, isn’t working. What is the next option?
Firstly, we need to dispense with this ridiculous notion that discussing details of Class A drugs on TV and radio is wrong and encourages drug use. Young people are already drawn in by the allure of recreational drugs being forbidden, so that idea is already thrown out the window.
Instead, we need to replace the taboo with scientific research, like the one being undertaken at King’s College London, in order to truly understand what happens to someone’s body when experiencing a ‘high’ or a ‘come down’. We have already seen some signs of intensive research done on Channel 4′s show ‘Drugs Live: Ecstasy Trial’. It was a ground-breaking idea – to allow the channel to film people high on a Class A drug.
Personally, it really made me question how dangerous these drugs actually were. It led me to speak to people who have taken ecstasy and in reality all of them said they never experienced a bad come down. In this instance, I actually lost more faith in the adverts that warned: ‘One single pill will ruin your life’. Clearly, that is a false statement, as many people were fine after taking it, if anything it made me more curious to understand more about the drug.
That is why I completely condone using medical research for cocaine; the more experiments we can have on Class A drugs, the more we can understand exactly what its side effects are. So instead of the outlandish notion that people die from one take, the government should not patronise young people; they should instead talk about the exact effects and therefore allow them to understand exactly what they will be doing to themselves when they choose to take the drug.
It’s about time, as young adults living or working around people who take drugs, that we got an honest explanation from science and the government about how dangerous these drugs really are. We could go as far as to say, that the results of scientific research may justify legalising drugs like cannabis in order to regulate the distribution and ensure they are as safe as they can be, just like we did with cigarettes.Now, I don’t think that people will be necessarily deterred from taking drugs as a result of scientific research, however it certainly would make people less curious to try it. If we show a detailed analysis of what the effects of the drugs actually are, then the ‘let’s risk it and see’ approach looks a lot less alluring for people. We need to stop being scared to explore the use of Class A drugs if we’re going to tackle the drug culture in our society head on.