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Does not compute

Cocaine use is up:

His letter cites recent British Crime Survey statistics showing that 6.6 per cent of 16 to 24-year-olds used cocaine last year, compared to 1.3 per cent in 1996.


The professor wrote: \’\’Cocaine is a very harmful drug to individuals and more broadly society and evidence of the continued increasing prevalence of cocaine use is deeply concerning.\’\’

Umm, if coke snorting has gone up by a factor of four then we should be seeing the damge done by the use of this \”very harmful drug\” up by a factor of four.

Do we?


Therefore it is not a \”very harmful drug\” is it?

6 thoughts on “Does not compute”

  1. oh come on Tim – I’m sure you cannot see the damage done from your villa in Portugal, but there is plenty of scope for a drug to do “real damage” to people whilst remaining invisible to one Worstall T.

    Tim adds: Two things.

    1) If I look down the hill I can see the coast where much of Europe’s hash and cocaine come ashore.

    2) I live in a country where such drugs for personal use are decriminalised (no, not legalised) and the effect has been a reduction in the undesirable effects. See Glen Greenwald’s paper for more.

  2. Global Warming, Globalisation, War on Terror, War on Drugs, War on Anything, anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-anything.

    All scams, every last one.

  3. and has that reduction in the undesirable effects, post-decriminalisation in Portugal, been accompanied by fourfold increase in usage? Because if it hasn’t, neither of your additional points tell us anything about whether a fourfold increase in usage in the UK has been accompanied by a proportionate increase in people messing themselves up.

    if you don’t think people can fuck themselves up (in various ways and to varying degrees) by using coke, I find it hard to believe you know many regular users (not to mention the question of which within social strata you know them). I don’t know what the proportion of users who get themselves into a mess is … let’s say it’s x percent, so if usage increases by a factor of X then the number of people getting messed up has risen by xX. You seem to be suggesting this proportionate increase hasn’t happened because you haven’t seen it.

    As far as I can see, all that’s left to disagree about is the size of x. My guess is x is in the order of 10%, based on the number of my acquaintances that have got themselves into trouble (some seriously so), but it’s hard to know what that number means because when some people discover coke messes them up, they stop taking it … are they counted in x or not? But I move in privileged, high-education, circles, so perhaps my (third-hand) acquaintance with these matters is unrepresentative.

    Tim adds: Or an alternative view of addiction. Those who are going to get messed up are the first to use drugs consistently. So, if 1% of the population uses coke then 1% of the population will get messed up on it. If the number of the population that uses coke expands to 6% of the population there’s still only 1% getting messed up. The other 5% are using it “responsibly”.

    No, it’s not that stark. But there is such a thing as an addictive personality and those without it tend not to get addicted to whatever it is they are doing: those who do do.

  4. OK – I see that could make sense (x nonlinear in X) but you can tell stories when it doesn’t work like that. An empirical question, then.

    Anyway, based on what I’ve seen in the roughly 20 years since I first encountered people doing class A drugs, I find it hard to greet news of an increase with equanimity. If nothing else, it increase the queues for the toilet and the number of braying, boring, paranoid individuals in circulation.

    Tim adsd: “the number of braying, boring, paranoid individuals in circulation”

    You hanging out with Tories again? You’ve been warned about that you know….could make you go blind

  5. “I find it hard to greet news of an increase with equanimity.”

    Yes, but your world weariness doesn’t give licence to put people in prison to protect them from themselves (and fuck them up in different ways).

  6. I take stats like these with a very large grain of salt. What is the source?

    I remember getting “anonymous drug use/sex” surveys when I was just a lad at school, and I remember many of us giggling like fools whilst taking the piss out of said surveys.

    Many a student who was a virgin and had never even so much as smelled a joint put down that they had been shagging for most of the past year and smoked cannabis several times a week.

    As you said, is there evidence of increased consequences of the increased usage? If not, I would doubt the stats

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