Changing the discussion

Normalizing Drug Use by Stanton Peele in Psychology Today.

The drug policy battle in the U.S. isn’t about medical marijuana, or even legalizing marijuana.

It’s about normalizing drug use.

Do drugs create different experiences from other involvements we are familiar with—are they more compelling, more inescapable, less controllable, more inexorable in their progression to addiction than other experiences that we encounter daily?

They are not.

This is a discussion we need to have more often.

According to government surveys, people rarely find even the most addictive, dangerous drugs to be, well, addictive and dangerous.

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18 Responses to Changing the discussion

  1. thelbert says:

    cj should read this. norcalnative has kicked after 20 years. things are looking up.

  2. Lars says:

    According to government surveys, people rarely find even the most addictive, dangerous drugs to be, well, addictive and dangerous.

    And of course, the sado-moralists would claim that these “people” are in denial, so their opinion does not matter.

  3. CJ says:

    norcalnative was using for 20 years and just kicked?

    • NorCalNative says:

      CJ, I thought about you when I was going through withdrawal and detox knowing that I had it easy compared to the kind of dope sickness you experience if you go too long without heroin.

      In my case I was using a slow-acting form of morphine and that made a huge difference in my ability to quit. I didn’t have any drug-reward from taking the morphine and it was time to quit due to lack of analgesic effect.

      I also chose my own time before being asked by my physician and that made it easier as well. My PotDoc offered me Clonidine which I turned down because I wanted to see if the cannabis extract would get me through this period.

      I didn’t feel great during detox but symptoms were really minimal, mainly infrequent sneezing, a little excessive sweating, tearing eyes, and a god-damn hot flushed feeling in my feet.

      I had formed poop and no nausea or diarrhea at all. I had one leg cramp and a few jerky uncontrolled movements. If I was going to relapse now it would be due to the fact I’m having some trouble sleeping.

      I haven’t lost my love of opiates and the euphoric relaxation they can bring (the fast-acting kind) but I have no current desire to seek it out. As I mentioned in a post yesterday I seem to have more creativity in my guitar playing since quitting morphine so it’s not going to be hard for me to remain opiate-free.

  4. CJ says:

    i think this is a very good point here by statton peele. It’s true. I have always maintained that all drugs should be legal because of common sense points like hello, as long as it’s illegal we have zero control versus total control. But even with my close friends I’ve often wondered what the total legal world would look like because ive had enough to do with methamphetamine users, crack injectors/smokers etc. to wonder what the use of those things everyday in a legal market would look like. Not only those but the benzos those methadone patients are so in love with too. Just the other day I was banging my head against a traffic sign because I was trying to do something important with a friend who was under the influence of benzo’s and was thus: rolling on the sidewalk in a state of glorious oblivion as his money fell and flew all over the place. Stood outside the bathroom at The Bean for about 15 minutes, too happily incapacitated to realize that 1. nobody was in the bathroom and 2. the bathroom was locked anyway and 3. they had had enough of his singing and pacing around waiting for this unavailable bathroom that they called the cops (and it was sweep day.) I kept saying, incredulously “why don’t we just wait til you sober up to do this?” and he wasnt having it. So he demanded I wait on 12th street and ave C while he went a few blocks deeper into alphabet city. I definitely questioned his ability to handle this otherwise very simple task. Sure enough after 20 minutes I called him, he had done the deed after a few minutes but then completely forgot both that I existed and where I was.

    We wound up going to Kmart near Astor Place/St Marks, they have a very curteous bathroom staff there and i think ive mentioned to all my friends here that it is pretty much the best bathroom around.

    So listen to this! The somewhat physically deformed bathroom staff guy, who is a real sweet guy, lets us in after the hellos. My totally destroyed friend cant locate things all of a sudden, my fears from before about his ability to do the deed returned and im thinking, this sonofagun didnt even do the deed, thats why he cant find it! He keeps looking, a few minutes go by, the door opens again and i look at him disgusted and walk to the urinal to pretend. He takes a second to get the point then runs into the bathroom and jeez man the person to join us ended up being this 900 year old man who was using a walker and was going 0001 miles an hour so it was horrible i just said screw this and walked to his stall (my friend) looked over top and hes sitting there holding 4 items up into the light as if he’d found a Holy relic and was showing God. I snapped at him and said dude give me my two which he did. So I go to the stall adjoining his and am going about my business. Next thing you know, like some kind of broken recording device from the 80’s, in the same tone of voice, over and over and over he is saying aloud “i need a cooker. i need a cooker. i need a cooker. i need a cooker.” i grit my teeth and tell him i dont have an extra one. After about 5 seconds of silence he resumes “I need a cooker. I need a cooker. I need a cooker.” unbelievable! In my frustration I threw mine under the stall to him and a few seconds go by now hes saying “I need a cotton, I need a cotton, I need a cotton” and then the bathroom staff guy outside pokes his head in and says “is everything OK in there” I’m like jesus. So I told him to hurry up, we gotta go, his response is to start singing. I said I’ll wait outside. I go outside and after waiting 20 minutes I said enough and left. He ended up finding his way to a park bench and passed out for 6 hours. After that he continued to be in a daze and wouldnt remember anything for that 42 hour period.

    So I wonder to myself how it would go if we could just go to a pharmacy and buy whatever drugs we want legally, like my friend with the 3 xanax or klonopin that he had taken. Well, until, like Stanton Peel says, drug use in normalized, I imagine at first, things would be quite bad, prejudice and persecution left and right. But I think eventually, after its normalized, that situation may be regarded more so like one might regard a co-worker who shows up hammered. Maybe it’s a one time incident, maybe they need to get their drinking a little under control. Either way prohibiting all drugs is worse than anything legalized drugs could ever do. Despite the story i told you, im sure worse happened in the past 2000 years nearly of total global legal drug use and the point is all our worlds history is built on the foundation of a world where total drug use was always globally legal. I mean, I probably would not buy crack everyday in a global legal market but who the hell am i to tell anybody they cant, regardless of what funny/silly things that may come of it. Nevertheless, I saw a poll recently and across the board, it was only 9% that favored the legalization of all drugs pretty much with marijuana being at 52% in this survey. It is a long road ahead sadly.

    in terms of norcalnative kicking, im wondering if he is using buprenorphine or methadone?? I hate buprenorphine more than anything in the world except those naloxone shots.

    • NorCalNative says:

      I used a “full extract cannabis oil” for withdrawal and detox.

      Use your computer access to look up Sativex. The oil I used had a 1:1 ratio like this Big Pharma product.

      I didn’t want to substitute and opiate for an opiate because it seemed like too long of a process.

      • Windy says:

        I have a question about RSO (the “full extract cannabis oil”), what is the difference between RSO and BHO? Near as I can tell, the only difference is the solvent used. Is that correct?

  5. Francis says:

    The drug policy battle in the U.S. isn’t about medical marijuana, or even legalizing marijuana.

    It’s about normalizing drug use.

    Overall, I thought the article was great, but I cringed a bit at that opening which seems to play right into the prohibitionists’ hands. They’re the ones who argue that “legalizing” a drug (i.e., eliminating criminal penalties for its possession and sale) automatically represents some kind of societal endorsement of its use. But that’s ridiculous. The notion that we as a society “endorse” every activity we don’t attempt to actively suppress via state violence is insane.

    Of course, the debate over drug policy and “normalization” are not entirely unrelated. I do think that the legalization of currently-illicit drugs will have the effect of moving their use in the direction of normalization (which is after all a spectrum), but that’s only because prohibition has artificially distorted perceptions of those drugs by driving them underground and inhibiting honest discussion of their risks and benefits. If a currently-illicit drug is truly as dangerous, addictive, and incapable of responsible use as the drug warriors claim, then cultural stigma surrounding its use should remain quite strong in a post-legalization environment. On the other hand, if the drug warriors have been lying to us, that should become clear pretty quickly and attitudes will adjust accordingly.

    • Paul McClancy says:

      Agreed. I always thought that excerpt above was… off. It didn’t jibe with the rest of the article and it appeared as an attack in legalization at first. On a slightly unrelated note I accidentally thumbed you down. Sorry, I’m typing on a phone and missed the thumbs up.

    • War Vet says:

      I hover around supporting all drug legalization because I believe child rape is far worse, yet hundreds of thousands of children have been abused because of the kind of power drug money can give to such bad people . . . and I’ve always believed it was better to let people pick heroin than to not give people a choice on dying/getting injured on 9/11–something nearly totally financed by heroin. In all reality, if one doesn’t support total drug legalization, it’s because they prefer child rape, terrorism, war, recession, murder and thievery. It’s my fault if I use crystal and heroin once every two-four years, but its every police officer’s fault if I use illegal crystal and heroin. It’s my fault if I smoke pot regularly, but I have no blame if I smoke illegal pot.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Way back in the late 1980’s I read a culture warrior’s anti-cannabis tract (whose title slips my mind for the moment) that had as part of its gut-scream against reforming cannabis laws was that very ‘normalization’ process.

      The author bemoaned the day that a joint would be enjoyed during the work week, leading to more casual use, where a cannabist would think nothing of passing said joint tom another person in a park somewhere! (Gasp!) THE HORRORS!!!

      And of course, much was made about ‘lost productivity’.

      This part really gets me. THE COMMIES WOULD THINK THAT WAY. Isn’t that what so many veterans (proudly raising hand) ostensibly fought the Cold War to keep from happening in this country? To keep Human life from being reduced to the level of disposable machinery, whose only value was ‘productivity’?

      Whenever I hear that ‘productivity’ crap I think back to my days in Civil Service, and the kinds of people whose freight I had to carry on top of my own.

      I (literally!) did two people’s work and was salaried for only one. Showing up a half hour early every workday, unpaid, to get things cranked up an ready to go by opening time. While my co-worker would show up a minute before opening, completely unprepared.

      If I was out sick or on vacation, when I came back, my ‘regulars’ would lean over the counter and whisper that they were glad I was back as my co-worker was no help to them at all. When I left that department my boss asked me who should take my place.

      Week after week, year after year…while toking every night for medicinal reasons. While the less motivated, more politically and bureaucratically protected, cannabis-‘clean’ co-worker sat back with a smile on her face for me being so stupid for not ‘playing the game’.

      Multiply that by tens of millions. For we truly are legion. A lot of hard-working, diligent employees, bosses, etc., the ones who keep things going, the ones that you can depend on, day after day…whose preferred intoxicant is natural rather than unnatural.

      Prohibs, don’t you dare lecture us about ‘productivity’. At least, unlike you, our ‘product’ isn’t misery.

      • allan says:

        as always Kap I had a lot of hand raising reading your post. I was there, I learned to duck and cover (duck under desk, tuck head between legs, kiss ass goodbye), I saw the missiles on alert at the base near me. I remember the missile crisis and the store shelves (t was a Safeway I believe) depleted.

        From our house in San Pedro, I watched Watts burn. I enlisted (draft dodger!) when I lost my student deferment. I started smoking pot. I learned I didn’t like helping blow up farmers. I was a good troop. I’ve always been an asset as an employee. I’ve purchased a home. I started and grew my own company. And I smoked pot all the while.

        More than once I’ve worked more than one job to get what or where I wanted. I’ve spoken for those with no voice. I’ve heeded the wisdom of my father. I’ve raised two great kids (son is here for a day, just turned 21, went and had our first legal beer together over Thai food). And smoked pot all the while.

        And we are a freaking freight train. Prohibs need to learn about mass in motion. And they really need to watch out for mass in motion with attitude…

        I have my list ready. And it will be to my great delight to watch the coming public ass kicking of Prohibition II and those that advanced it and profited from it.

  6. claygooding says:

    The witch hunt is ending,,the drug users became the witches and it has been ingrained in a lot of families from birth until the birds flew the nest.
    The costs of prohibition is really our ally now,,,when they started diverting funding away from the ONDCP it was because the budget was too large,,,now the budgets of the bureaucracies they passed those programs too are coming under scrutiny because of the exponential costs of maintaining those programs,,eradication taken over by HS is a prime example,,the programs are becoming so costly that every budget is doubling yearly while the economy is still in neutral.
    And even if the US remains stubborn on marijuana and hemp prohibition they are facing an international legal market for it.
    There is a tsunami building and even the US govt can’t build enough dikes,rehab centers or prisons to stop it.

  7. Duncan20903 says:


    Well, have you heard of the latest drug craze running rampant among our soon to be yet another lost generation of Americans? It’s called “Beezin.” This one is from the “I smell Jenkum” category:

    Teens Using Lip Balm to Stimulate High
    On Your Side’s Chris Oswalt reports on a ‘beezin’, a trend teens are using to simulate the feeling of being high or drunk.
    April 25, 2014

    OKLAHOMA — Some teens are trying out a bizarre viral trend called “Beezin.” It involves people applying a light layer of Burt’s Bees lip balm to their eyelids.

    Those who are into “Beezin” say it adds to the experience of being drunk or high. Others say it helps keep them alert.

    So what exactly causes that tingling sensation in Burt’s Beeswax?

    Oooooh, I’m going to catch a “buzz!”

  8. Servetus says:

    People rarely find even the most addictive, dangerous drugs to be addictive and dangerous because if recreational or mind enhancing drugs were really as dangerous as advertised, no one would go near them.

    For instance, no one is likely to develop a dangerous addiction to arsenic, as they would likely be dead before an addiction could set in. Regardless of what addiction means to the prohib community, arsenic is a poisonous metal because it accumulates as a poison and doesn’t go away quickly. The same is true of mercury. Leaving an open container of mercury in a non-ventilated classroom for about thirty minutes is enough to create a toxic mercury atmosphere: the point at which one’s body throws off less mercury than it’s accumulating. Neither toxic metal could ever emerge to become a recreational drug due to the forces of natural selection acting on consumers.

    If the dangers of arbitrary consumption, or dosage, are largely met by drug consumers, then prohibitionists are using addiction as a false flag. Several types of recreational drug objections remain. What’s left, however, comprise little more than various aspects of nasty and oppressive social control.

    Moral objections to drug use constitute an authoritarian stance on something authoritarians rarely know anything about. Knowledge isn’t the authoritarians’ thing; absolute conformity is. A lifetime of persecution is the sentence for violating the authoritarian dictate. Objections involving the political economy, such as those promoting the Calvinist work ethic, are meant to package humans into a convenient, compliant, fear-laden, workforce of disposable biocogs for the exclusive benefit of the capitalist machine.

    Anything that frees the mind, anything that makes the machine look hypocritical or a threat, is rejected as dangerous. Scientific attacks on the puritanical concept of addiction fall into the dangerous category. Addiction is among the core pillars that make drug enforcement appear necessary. If the pillar falls, so does a huge piece of the drug enforcement empire.

  9. When I decided to become more active in ending drug prohibition it was because I had realized that our system for helping those individuals that needed it had broken down. Our help system has become politicized – and the marriage of treatment to the Justice system is a superhighway to incarceration and injustice. It has helped to inflate the government to behemoth size and shape. One that depends upon its own population being preyed upon as the key to its own continued monstrosity and well being.

    Prohibition does not prevent children or adults from using drugs. It creates a dangerous environment that destroys lives in the name of help. We are ending this war on humanity. There are better ways to help. There are ways to keep kids off drugs, but lying to them to maintain prohibition is not one of those ways. As we speak, there is NOTHING to stop an intent person from using any drug he chooses. That is the lie of prohibition. It’s societies “soylent green”

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