Saturday, March 01, 2014

Use and Abuse of (shhh) 'Drugs!'

People outside of the UK may not know about Professor David Nutt, who was government Chief Advisor in the UK for ten years, and was finally sacked for not coming to the conclusions that they wanted him to.   He explains it all in the first few minutes of this 50 minute presentation.

He's very good on the way the discussion of legal and illegal drugs blurs the more important measures of the amount of harm to self and others of drug abuse - for instance how much worse for people and society alcohol proves to be (and we are talking about evidence here, not BS).

I recommend this whole presentation, which covers the legal situation which prevents proper scientific work on drugs which can be abused, or simply used for recreation, but which also have exciting therapeutic possibilities, from MDMA to LSD, these things need to be available at least to researchers. Currently, when he invents new combinations to reproduce the effects, the substance immediately gets made illegal.

"People cannot be rational when something's illegal. And that's why we have to be very, very cautious, about making anything illegal."
Prof Nutt.

The chart that he and his team created for the UK, comparing the relative risks of a range of drugs, appears irrefutable (it has been independently reproduced by European colleagues).

And I was intrigued by his suggestion that with enough research he could create something that would let you feel intoxicated for the evening, then take the antidote, sober up immediately, and feel OK to drive home, and wake up without a hangover the following day.  Breaking news.

"I’ve done the prototype experiments myself many years ago, where I’ve been inebriated and then it’s been reversed by the antagonist. There’s no question that you can produce a whole range of effects like alcohol by manipulating the brain.”

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