Advanced Drug Testing: Creepy Science, Creepy Scientists

Submitted by Phillip Smith on
A German electronic newsletter about scientific innovations advises that a Russian scientist has developed a drug testing technique that will spot drug use weeks or even months after it occurred. The Russian scientist involved, Dr. Marina Myagkova won an award from the World Intellectual Property Organization, a UN organization, for her work a couple of months ago. Myagkova's long-term drug testing technique identifies drug antibodies in blood or saliva. According to her research team, her "Dianarc" technique will allow the identification of drug use by a person from two to four months ago. Myagkova and her cohorts see practical applications for the drug testing technique:
The authors assume that the ‘Dianarc’ will be useful for clinical and forensic medical practice, as well as for staff selection to enforcement and guard entities, for issue of driver’s licenses and weapon permissions.
Or to block recreational drug users from getting or keeping a job. Or to punish high school students who smoked a joint over summer vacation. Or to more assiduously punish probationers or parolees. Or, in states that have those draconian "internal possession" laws, to extend the period of potential liability for arrest of occasional drug users from days to months. I have to wonder about the mind-set of researchers busily trying to find new and improved ways to conduct internal surveillance on us. I also have to wonder about researchers who see someone taking drugs on an occasional basis only as an addict in the making. As the German newsletter noted:
Specialists of the Institute of Physiologically Active Substances, Russian Academy of Sciences, and of the Moscow Narcological Clinical Hospital #17 have developed a technique called “Dianarc” that allows to discover drug addicts at the very early stage, when they take narcotics occasionally.
There is something flawed here. I can understand that they want to intervene early, but the underlying premise is rotten. How can you discover a drug addict before he is a drug addict? A person who "takes narcotics occasionally" is, by definition, not a drug addict. And a person who "takes narcotics occasionally" actually describes the vast majority of drug users. So what the good Dr. Myagkova and her good colleagues have developed is a technique that doesn't spot addicts early, but identifies occasional drug users. If you think this innovation is going to be used to help people, I have some nice waterfront property here in South Dakota for sale. Back in the good old days, when a Dr. Frankenstein created a monstrosity, the peasants burned down his castle. Now, she gets an award from the UN.

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