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October 2017
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Hard drugs: should it be illegal?

Hard drugs: should it be illegal?

Molly, acid, X, speed, ket, 4f. These are all slang words for different kinds of hard drugs. Some might be familiar to you as you might have used it before or because you have heard about it. If you have only heard about drugs, it was most likely not in a positive manner. Hard drugs generally do not have a good reputation in our society. If one is associated with drugs they are often considered a junkie or drug addict. Not only do hard drugs have a bad name in society, they are also illegal for recreational use. But why? Supposedly hard drugs are illegal because they are harmful to your health. However, we know today that there are many legal products available on the market that are also harmful to your health. A very good example of this is alcohol. Another reason for not legalizing hard drugs is because they might be physically addicting. Yet again, this aspect is not excluded from the list of legal products. Should hard drugs be illegal at all?

For someone to understand why people use hard drugs, party drugs to be specific, they have to learn how drugs work and why it makes you feel good. XTC is the most popular drug at parties and it is also a good example of a drug that can be harmless if not abused. XTC is usually taken in the form of a pill. The active substance in the pill is 3,4-methyleendioxymethamfetamine, also called MDMA. Basically, what this substance does is it gives off a neurotransmitter in your brain called serotonin. This neurotransmitter has control over a lot of things for example your sleep, appetite, temperature regulation, and most importantly in this case your mood and behavior. Serotonin is given off gradually during the day in your brain to make you feel content and happy at a normal level. Imagine if suddenly a lot of serotonin is given off at once. You will feel extraordinary happy or as it is usually described by XTC users, you will feel euphoric. Essentially, XTC works on your serotonin levels and these can get low after using this drug. However, our brain can produce serotonin and repair the serotonin levels. This is done in a slow pace, but eventually it will be like before XTC was taken, again if not abused.

XTC and many similar party drugs cannot be physically addictive, in contrast to for example heroin. With XTC it is because the euphoric feelings are bound to the serotonin levels. If one uses XTC too often the serotonin levels will be dried up at some point. This means that once there is no more serotonin in your brain, you can use as much XTC as you want but you will not get the euphoric feeling anymore. You cannot get serotonin from somewhere else. Similarly, this is why party drugs like amphetamines cannot be physically addicting. Although, this is mostly bound to dopamine levels. So, not all hard drugs should be illegal for this reason.

One thing that many people do not know is why drugs such as MDMA was invented. MDMA was rediscovered by Alexander Shulgin in 1965 for the purpose of helping people with mental problems such as depression. Shulgin introduced it to psychologists and psychiatrists as “penicillin for the wounded soul”. In the 1970s it was even used as an therapeutic drug in the United States. The reason why MDMA could help people with mental problems is because it could “enhance communication, increase empathy, and diminish fear” as entailed by Shulgin. If drugs can help people with mental problems, should it be illegal?

To no surprise, due to its positive and pleasant feelings MDMA became popular among young adults, especially in the electronic dance music (EDM) scene.  In patients with mental problems the drug would help overcome their depression, but in mentally healthy people it could only enhance their happiness. MDMA stimulates empathetic feelings and this brings people together. These empathetic feelings are very beneficial in big group settings, such as at EDM events. MDMA is very popular in the electronic dance music scene. The drugs help creating a community feeling. The EDM community is built on an ethos of peace, love, unity, and respect (PLUR). According to participants of the music events “XTC makes people even more open, friendly, and indiscriminately complimentary”. Even though, most of the members of the EDM community are high while they are having these strong positive feelings, their ethos of PLUR is not bound to the duration of the events. The members take the ethos and the other positive influences that are enhanced by drugs to their everyday life. This could be applied to any group setting outside the EDM scene. Thus, some party drugs could have a positive contribution to society and its morals.

In the end, hard drugs are still illegal all over the world. Governments are most likely afraid that society will fall apart if hard drugs are made legal, but to what extent is that true? Drugs do not necessarily have to have tremendous damaging effect on our health. If it is used properly with the correct amounts to one’s bodyweight, one can have many personal benefits and maybe even be enlightened after its use without damaging too much. Regular alcohol consumption can be way more damaging than popping a pill now and then. Yes, of course people can start abusing it but alcohol is legal and is everyone abusing this drug? So, should hard drugs really be illegal?



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