I was talking to a friend about drugs a few weeks ago – not the medicinal kind, the illegal recreational ones – and I had a hard time articulating what I really feel about them. I found it very frustrating, but since then I’ve had time to ponder it and put my thoughts into words properly.
Essentially, I think I have the relatively uncommon opinion (among those under 50) that drugs are bad and you shouldn’t take them. I don’t care if people think that is uncool or that it makes me not fun – they’re wrong. The consumption of illegal drugs is selfish and irresponsible, and here’s why (in as few words as possible).
Taking drugs is selfish towards the people who love and care about you. When you buy drugs, most of the time you don’t really know what you’re taking. You’re putting your trust in a drug dealer. Sure, you might know that person, they might be a friend, but they had to buy them from somewhere too. Ultimately somewhere along that supply chain is someone who doesn’t give a fuck about you and just wants your money. You don’t know what they’ve put in what you’re taking, what it might have been accidentally contaminated with, or exactly how strong it is. You’re taking a risk, either of harming yourself seriously and immediately, or of causing long-term harm either through addiction or other physical or mental health problems. I find that selfish towards the people who love you and want you to be well. You’re putting your wellbeing at risk for your temporary pleasure, and that is selfish.
Taking drugs is also selfish towards society in general. If you do end up harming yourself, either immediately or in the long term, it is society that has to pay through the NHS to try to fix you. Your harm is self-inflicted because you wanted to have a good time, but it is everyone else who has to pay if it goes wrong. This is no different to people who drink to excess and either injure themselves in a drunken stupor or damage their bodies over time. Doing that to yourself and making other people pay for it is selfish.
Finally, taking drugs is irresponsible. You don’t know where that money is going. Ultimately it may go to the Taliban who control the poppy-growing areas of Afghanistan, or the Mexican drugs cartels who kill hundreds of people in South America each year, or criminals involved in people trafficking and sex slavery. It might not, but some of it does, and the point is that you don’t know. You don’t know and you don’t care because you want your drugs. It may be argued that this is the fault of the drugs’ illegality – you wouldn’t have to buy them from unscrupulous people if they weren’t illegal. That may be true. But that doesn’t make it OK. That doesn’t make it OK not to care where the money goes. If the money from cigarettes went towards funding paedophiles, you’d expect people to say ‘Well I don’t want to fund that, even though I quite fancy a smoke’. I don’t see drugs as any different. Buying them and ignoring where that money goes, turning a blind eye to it because you want to have fun, is irresponsible.
So there you go. I really disagree with taking drugs and, unfortunately, I think less of people who do it.
You might think however that my vehement opposition to drugs means I don’t think they should be legalised. There you’d be wrong. The majority of drugs, with the possible exception of the most addictive ones, I think should be legalised because many of the problems I have with their consumption would go away if they were legal. Properly measured doses with a secure supply chain would mean you’d know what you were taking and could manage the risk to your health. You could still harm yourself, but you can drink yourself to death too – at least you’d reduce the chance of doing it by accident. Properly taxed drugs would also provide funds for the NHS, should you ultimately need treatment as a result of them. Drugs would then not be that different to our already taxed alcohol in that regard. And you’d know where the money you spend on them is going, rather than guessing, or hoping, or ignoring it.
I’m therefore fairly liberal with regards to the legalisation of drugs. But that doesn’t mean it’s OK to take them while they’re illegal. Campaign for their legalisation if you want to, but if you take them in the meantime you’re putting your own pleasure above everything else. That’s selfish and irresponsible.