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How to Use Drugs Without Ruining Our Lives

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Cato Unbound has a wonderful piece, Towards a Culture of Responsible Psychoactive Drug Use, by Earth and Fire Erowid, the founders of The article provides a rational discussion of why people use psychoactive substances and what can be done to minimize the harms and maximize the benefits of such use. Over the next week, Cato will post responses from Jonathan Caulkins, Jacob Sullum, and Mark Kleiman.

I read the piece last night in its entirety and don’t recall finding a single word I disagree with. What struck me is how far removed modern drug education is from even discussing these commonsense principles. Do this information sound dangerous to you?

Fundamentals of Responsible Psychoactive Use

* Investigate the health risks and dangers of the specific psychoactive and of the class of drugs to which it belongs.
* Learn about interactions with other recreational drugs, medications, supplements, and activities.
* Review individual health concerns, predispositions, and family health history.
* Choose a source or product carefully to help ensure correct identification and purity
(avoid materials with an unknown source or of unknown quality).
* Know whether the drug is likely to reduce the ability to drive, operate equipment, or pay attention to necessary tasks.
* Take oneself "off duty" from responsibilities that might be interfered with (job, child care, etc.), and arrange for someone else to be “on duty” for such responsibilities.
* Anticipate reasonably foreseeable risks to oneself and others and employ safeguards to minimize those risks.
* Choose an appropriate occasion and location for use.
* Select and measure dosages carefully.
* Begin with a low dose until individual reactions are known and thereafter use the minimum dose necessary to achieve the desired effects: lower doses are safer doses.
* Reflect on and adjust use to minimize physical and mental health problems.
* Note changes in health over time that may be related to use.
* Modify use if it interferes with work or personal goals.
* Check in with peers and family and accept feedback about one’s use.
* Track reactions to specific drugs and dosages in order to avoid repeating mistakes.
* Seek treatment if needed.
* Decide not to use when the time isn’t right, the material is suspect, or the situation is otherwise problematic.

Anyone who has a problem with any of this should contemplate the consequences of allowing young people to learn these lessons the hard way. The fact that these ideas might be considered controversial should serve to remind us how badly our society has demolished its own ability to discuss drug use with people who use drugs.
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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great list

More people need to read this.


I belive that we do need to talk more about drugs. To tell people to "Just say No" is not working. If we as a nation will give out condoms because we realize that teens will have sex anyway why not at least realize that teens are going to exparment with drugs as well.

So shouldn't we at least inform them of the ricks and explain why we think they are not a good idea for them?

Nice List yet Not Viable!

In the society we now have and its way of dealing with drugs, much on this list simply has no real way of ever coming into practical application. Its great and i also do not disagree with anything on it, yet until we change the present and backwards laws in our society,(The War On Drugs), then all we can do is look and say yes what a great list! If only.....

Great points

Great points about safe psychoactive use.

Haha, people should use this list for medical psychoactives, too, especially, "Investigate the health risks and dangers," "use the minimum dose necessary to achieve the desired effects," and monitoring how one's personal life is affected.

Thanks for posting this.

explaining drugs

I have never understood the reasons for not explaing to teens the truth about drugs. When they hear from friends about drugs they believe much of what they are told, right or wrong.

Why listen to adults who say drugs are bad. They realize their friends are doing drugs and the story's just don't jive.

The point I'm trying to make is if adults say it's bad don't do it and they already know some drugs are not dangerous then the adults are full of it. Why not tell the truth and let the people choose.

What's The Big Deal?

I mean, honestly, what's the deal with drugs? It sure doesn't seem like a biggie. Look, don't underestimate me. I'm still a kid, not even a teen. So seriously, what's wrong with drugs. Whoever uses drugs are huting their own body, it doesn't physically hurt you unless you use it. SHEESH!!!

If you want to help me on this subject, go on my site and leave comments relating to this:

btw...DON'T put www.

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