My word this is just appalling

Britain has become a major hub for the burgeoning online trade in “legal highs”, a study of drug and alcohol dependency has warned.

Free people in a free country doing something legal. We should obviously stop them before they enjoy themselves.

23 comments on “My word this is just appalling

  1. It’s teh Puritan women, Tim. We live in a society where women hate drugs, so therefore drugs must be removed from society in case men derive too much pleasure from them. I was told this by a bloke in a pub who once read a book, and understood some of it.

    The final paragraph is slightly confusing, mind you:

    ‘The rate of alcohol dependence among British men was second in western Europe, while alcohol dependence among women was higher in Britain than anywhere in Europe.’

    But how can this be???

  2. The problem with legal highs is that they’re not much cop and have not been tested adequately.

    On the other hand, illegal highs, such as coke, acid, marijuana and ecstasy have been extensively tested by generations of caners and the risks/rewards are well known. Stick with what you know…

    Incidentally, almost twice as many people died as a result of inhaling helium last year as died from taking ecstasy (58 v 31, ONS stats)

  3. Incidentally, almost twice as many people died as a result of inhaling helium last year as died from taking ecstasy (58 v 31, ONS stats)

    Oh, it’s been known for years that ecstasy is relatively safe as a leisure pursuit (much safer that riding or even fishing, come to that – cf Nicholas Sauders’ work). Didn’t know that helium was so dangerous though. Seems silly really, given that all it does is make your voice go a bit squeaky.

    I do like the names they give legal highs though. As far as I can see, the whole ‘meow meow’ thing was invented by journalists, purely becuase mephadrone is a cathinone and people were calling it ‘cat’. And as for nitrous oxide being referred to as ‘hippy crack’. FFS.

  4. In my amphet years, I bought my whizz (Sam – I think you’re probably right, but street names certainly used to come from ‘the street’) from a variety of shady low-lifes, some of whom I got to know and quite like, others with whom I was barely on nodding terms.

    They themselves were supplied by a variety of middle men, presumably buying from a variety of top-end manufacturers.

    It was always of uniformly good quality, despite the scare stories of it being cut with everything from Vim to warfarin.

    Same with ecstasy – I never had a ‘bad pill’ (though I got sold paracetamol occasionally)..

    Coke was different – highly variable, though it always seemed to vary down (ie you were unlikely to get offered an unusually pure wrap).

    Heroin was not my bag, but I have read that sometimes addicts do get unsually pure heroin, and OD on it. I’ve never understood the commercial sense to this, and am doubtful as to the truth of these stories.

    Anyway, I assumed the speed/E vs coke quality control issue was related to the fact that you could make speed and E in an little industrial unit somewhere, but coke was much harder to get to the user.

    If you can make and supply decent gear, why not? Who wants to kill their customers – or ‘harsh their buzz’?

    I doubt these Chiney chemists are any different – more likely the kids are taking too much, or more kids are taking it.

    I suppose there may be some poorly understood effects with some of these modern receits, but the new stuff all seems to be essentially variations on an amphetamine theme.

  5. @Interested

    ‘The rate of alcohol dependence among British men was second in western Europe, while alcohol dependence among women was higher in Britain than anywhere in Europe.’

    I don’t want to get in the middle of your war with Ian, but it’s simultaneously possible for this to be true and for fewer women to be drinking than men. I would guess that dependency is higher amongst women out of pure physiology, in the same way that they might exhibit more symptoms of alcohol-related disease and drunkenness. Quite simply because they are smaller, and therefore it takes less to get them pissed, less to damage their liver, and less to get them hooked.

    In a similar case, I remember some figures came out whilst I was at university saying my institution simultanesously had the highest per capita alcohol intake and the greatest number of teetotallers. SImply because we had a lot of non-drinkers, but we also had a lot of complete piss-artists.

  6. There’s no war – at least, not from my side. I like pulling his leg now and then, that’s all (though I do think he has some odd bees in his bonnet).

  7. Oh, don’t be so coy, Interested. You’re needling. Or wheedling. Or whatever the word is. “Leg pulling” is friendly joshing, whereas you’re doing that “trying to get a rise out of a chap” thing. And I’m trying to wonder why my vocabulary has reverted to the 1950s.

    There are better things to argue about than each other. Play the ball, please.

  8. Sam-

    Part of it depends on how you’re defining “alcohol dependence” and how reliable the figures are. The Temperance Ladies these days seem to be defining addiction as simple regularity of use. Stats are dangerous. I read one tobacco temperance study that usefully(?) defined an “ex smoker” as anyone who has had a single cigarette. This is useless.

    The other thing that I tried to explain to Inty’s deaf ears is that pointing a finger at a certain cohort of women is not pointing a finger at all women everywhere. It’s the same as noting that the coal miners unions were a bad lot in the 1970s; it doesn’t mean that one has some kind of animus about all coal miners, everywhere.

    The basic issue is that in the 19th century revival moralism, the “two spheres” appointed men as doers of work and politics etc, and awarded ownership of the moral sphere to upper class women; the wives of the Great Men, who set about imposing their own moral values on society with literally missionary zeal. This is a sphere they have not relinquished. It is also a position from which they have frequently attacked other women, particularly younger, lower class ones. Untold thousands of girls were locked up in institutions, often appallingly mistreated by quacks, for being “delinquent”, which meant in practise being insufficiently moral. For example.

    The shadow of the Social Purity Movement is central to understanding how the “Progressive Left” has developed over the past two centuries, in my view. Others may agree or disagree on this, but I fail to see the utility of Inty’s snippy flaming.

  9. Sam>

    I’m not sure about meow-meow, which may well be a media invention – ‘street’ names are used for illegal drugs in an attempt to be a little bit subtle when talking about them, and there’s no need with ‘legal’ highs – but hippy crack isn’t a street name at all, just a jokey nickname. I’d heard that one years before the media picked up on it. The crusties really do love their balloons…

    Inty>

    “Heroin was not my bag, but I have read that sometimes addicts do get unsually pure heroin, and OD on it. I’ve never understood the commercial sense to this, and am doubtful as to the truth of these stories.”

    Heroin’s not my thing either, but I’ve seen something similar – although not to the extent of OD – with MDMA. A few years back some friends of mine, who spent every weekend (and quite a few weeknights) shoving cheap drugs up their noses, were having trouble getting hold of any party favours. I, er, helped facilitate things. My chap had the best stuff around – pure, crystalline, and twice the price of their usual washing-powder. They didn’t believe me that it would be so much better, so kept insisting it was too expensive. Eventually, unable to find an alternative, they ponied up the extra and bought some – and of course, took their normal quantities and got totally wasted as a result, when all they’d expected was a mild pick-me-up.

    I could imagine something similar happening with heroin, and obviously the consequences would be far more serious.

  10. Ian

    I broadly agree with the moral-sphere stuff, as you know (didn’t Ian Hislop say something similar in his series on the Victorians, too?). Twas ever thus (the Colonel and the Memsahib right back to Arthur and Guinevere. It’s basic dualism of ruling abroad and ruling at home &c &c.)

    As for the dependence, I don’t trust any stats on alcohol, the definition of binge drinking (6 units – or two pints of premium lager – in a session) make a nonsense of them, as do the fact that no single country agrees on what a unit is or how many you can have. And I seem to remember the doctor who came up with the whole unit system came out and said that he’d pretty much worked out on the back of a fag packet what a completely safe minimum would be and was slightly horrified that this was then used as a proposed standard.

    In other news, I personally have no objection to ladies – especially upper class ones – who ‘try to get a rise out of a chap.’ That’s the sort of thing that makes life worth it &c.

  11. re: “More people died inhaling helium”

    That’s because helium is a deliberate suicide device. They’re called “exit bags”.

  12. Dave

    But is that an entirely different product? Heroin (as far as I know, I’m not an expert) is basically heroin – it’s (I believe) quite easy to test the purity, which you’d think would be known somewhere up the chain, and thus it gets stepped on to maximise profits.

    I suppose there might be cases where some heroin gets nicked and then gets put out there by amateurs whose only way of testing is on themselves (or a willing/unknowing junkie).

  13. “The other thing that I tried to explain to Inty’s deaf ears is that pointing a finger at a certain cohort of women is not pointing a finger at all women everywhere.”

    This is exactly my point, you doofus.

    They’re just self-righteous, dictatorial scumbags who will exert power over whichever other people they can, because they can.

    Some have vaginas, some don’t – in fact, the ones who have vaginas often tend to knock around together with the ones who don’t (cf Tony and Cherie, Bill and Hillary, Beatrice and Sidney, Bernardine Dohrn and Bill Ayers, various impeccable lefty couples of my acquaintance… ad nauseam).

    So I ask myself: why do you keep pissing and moaning about the ones who have vaginas, claiming that we all follow women’s rules (when we plainly don’t – ask the broads of the SWP, for instance).

    Anyway, if it’s upsetting you I’ll stop asking/ribbing – it wasn’t meant to be hurtful, honestly (though, as I said, since no-one knows who you really are, or wants to, it shouldn’t be).

  14. Inty>

    My point with the heroin was just that it’s entirely possible that someone on one side of the city is selling stronger drugs than someone on the other, more expensively, and yet even though they’re paying more for it, the buyers won’t believe the warning to take it easy.

    As to how stronger heroin than normal gets into the system, could well be amateur importers. Could also just be someone with a glut, letting it out onto the market at cheaper than normal prices. I don’t think the stories involve absolutely pure heroin, generally, just something stronger than the norm.

  15. When ODs start showing up at A&E the fuzz go on red alert for a drug war.
    This is because the new market entrant has misjudged the purity requirements of the local junkies. Previously they might have accepted 10 or 20% purity, and suddenly they get 50%, i.e. as much as 400% more at a hit.
    New supplier still diluting it, of course. Apparently Naples is the EU capital of finding out what you can safely dilute it with.
    It’s economics red in tooth and claw. Barrier to entry? The Kalashnikov.

  16. Never did anything other than booze in sufficient quantities to count, but I do know (i.e. I can back this up) that once dependency on alcohol has been demonstrated, women have a harder time making a go of it than men, which is to say their successful long-term rehabilitation is less likely. As to why, well there I only have hunches and anecdata.

  17. @ BIF, Dave Inty,

    I seem to recall reading a a quasi-medical paper (eg an explanation by a doctor of some far more complicated paper for those of us who don’t speak doctor) that said that heroin is one of the most benign drugs available if you don’t count the inconvenient ‘addiction’ bit. You can take quite a lot more than the safe standard dose, I remember, with the only ill effect being that you become a bit sleepy. As opposed to, say, paracetamol, where five times the standard recommended dose will fuck your liver right up.

    What generally screws junkies up being the scouring powder and brick dust that it’s cut with.

    Mind you, lots of things are addictive. It’s not yet ten and I’m already rocking my second cup of coffee. It’s that or kill people.

  18. @Sam

    ‘What generally screws junkies up being the scouring powder and brick dust that it’s cut with.’

    Sam, I believe – anecdotally – that heroin isn’t cut with these things, you’re just sold these things as heroin ie you are completely skanked.

    No-one wants to kill his customers, surely. I think they use things which can be safely (not that safely) injected or inhaled eg sugar, laxatives, vitamin powder etc.

    (Coke is certainly cut with pharma coke, which gives the numbing feeling but not the high. So people think they’re buying good stuff but are really not.)

    In the case of brick dust, I don’t think it would do you any harm anyway (would it?) since to prepare heroin for injection you dissolve it in warm citric acid and filter it into your needle (and the brick dust element would not dissolve/pass through the filter), and to smoke it you burn it and the brick dust element wouldn’t burn. You can snort it, but you’d just have a very solid nose.

    @Dave

    Yep, I get that. I just think you’re more likely to find it overly stepped on than not. Who would sell 50% pure heroin if he could double or treble his money and sell 15%?

    There are no amateur importers of heroin. There are small time dealers, but the importers are all on the ball (they use idiots as mules, of course).

    As I say, occasionally some heroin mst go missing and get opportunistically flogged. I suspect that’s the source of these stories – either that or the cops and the media sensationalising for their own reasons (see Leah Betts in ecstasy etc).

  19. Mephedrone was called mieow-mieow in the early days, as mentioned, derived from the cathinone, and also it was more properly known as 4-mmcat. No one called it mieow-mieow openly though because you’d be like Chris Morris at Kings Cross.

    Since that was banned, the raft of related molecules that have come out have been getting steadily more unsafe, there are reasons they never made it to the mass market.

    I don’t think there’s any value Worstall banging the liberty drum when kids are dying because of prohibition of safer recreationals. A cheap shot, as it were.

  20. I don’t think there’s any value Worstall banging the liberty drum when kids are dying because of prohibition of safer recreationals

    eh? Are you saying they shouldn’t have banned mephedrone? If so I agree with you. But people want to get off their chops and they’ll do so legally or illegally. The only rational solution is to make it easier for them to do so safely, legally.

    People seem to have stopped solvent sniffing, for example, which was both legal and very, very dangerous. Even then, at least they weren’t huffing jenkem.*

    *yes, yes, it was a joke.

  21. I’d say people stopped sniffing glue (as much) when E dropped to £1 a pill.

    But for better data, ask Charles K (he was looking good on April 20, 2009 – less so on January 31, 2008. I think this is the difference between Dulux and B&Q own brand, but you’d need to check.

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