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Biotech Science

Many Scientists Using Performance Enhancing Drugs 955

Posted by kdawson
from the redefining-abuse dept.
docinthemachine is one of several readers to send word of a new poll published in Nature showing unprecedented levels of cognitive performance-enhancing drug abuse by top academic scientists. The poll, conducted among subscribers to Nature, surveyed 1,400 scientists from 60 nations (70% from the US). 20% reported using performance-enhancing drugs. Among the drug-using population, 62% used Ritalin, 44% used Provigil, and 15% used beta-blockers like Inderal. Frequency of use was evenly divided among those who used drugs daily, weekly, monthly, and once a year. All such use without a prescription is illegal.
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Many Scientists Using Performance Enhancing Drugs

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  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:47AM (#23025376) Homepage Journal

    ...poll published in Nature showing unprecedented levels of cognitive performance-enhancing drug abuse by top academic scientists...

    It is "drug abuse" when drugs are used without the informed consent of an individual; it is simply "illegal drug use" (and very likely legislative abuse of personal liberties at the same time) when an adult makes an informed choice about drug use that doesn't comply with the current law.

    People need to move away from the mindset where media pompously and wrongly attributes polar positions such as "right and wrong" and "use and abuse" to be a 100% lexical replacement for "legal and illegal." Anyone with any sense at all knows better than that. A significant number of the laws on the books in the country I live in (the USA) are inherently wrong, outright un- or anti-constitutional, or something even worse. Using them to define what is "right" leads directly to behaviors that are despicable — or worse.

    One can be cynical and simply say that this is because our legislators aren't very good at their jobs. Both from the standpoint of making good law in the first place, and also in the sense that they seem to be almost incapable of admitting they made a mistake and taking bad law off the books. Personally, I think it's because they're not very good at liberty — and very good indeed at lawmaking.

    There's an old saw that goes, "never attribute to malice what can be explained by incompetence", but I think in the case of bad law, we are indeed looking at malice aforethought. It seems to me that these people have agendas that can only be construed to be "for the people" if you slept through history class and have never read any of the founding documents with any interest. Like most Americans. :(

  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:49AM (#23025390)

    We prescribe these drugs to millions of kids who most likely have nothing "wrong" with them, and people have a problem when some adults do the same thing?

    This isn't athletics. The point isn't fairness. The point is advancing the science. I have serious doubts that these drugs are actually helping anybody do research who didn't already have some kind of problem, but it's none of our damn business, either.

  • And what about... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EricR86 (1144023) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:50AM (#23025410)
    Caffeine anyone?
  • Off-label (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Raindance (680694) * <johnsonmx@@@gmail...com> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:51AM (#23025430) Homepage Journal
    The blurb makes it sound as if all this use is illegal. I would imagine most isn't: most of these people will have prescriptions but are using them for off-label purposes. Which is legal.
  • by Frank T. Lofaro Jr. (142215) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:53AM (#23025458) Homepage
    It isn't necessarily illegal to possess or use prescription medicine without a prescription unless it is a controlled substance or there are state or other laws that come into play. It is illegal to dispense it without a presecription.

    Inderal is not a controlled substance.

  • by bagboy (630125) <neo&arctic,net> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:53AM (#23025464)

    People need to move away from the mindset where media pompously and wrongly attributes polar positions such as "right and wrong" and "use and abuse" to be a 100% lexical replacement for "legal and illegal." Anyone with any sense at all knows better than that. A significant number of the laws on the books in the country I live in (the USA) are inherently wrong, outright un- or anti-constitutional, or something even worse. Using them to define what is "right" leads directly to behaviors that are despicable — or worse.

    This is "your opinion". What is right and wrong will always be a subjective and philosophical definition. Laws are made when a majority who are elected, hold the same philosophical beliefs create and vote for them. If you don't like the laws, participate in the voting and hope your candidate of choice wins. That is what society is.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:55AM (#23025500)

    What the fuck does that have to do with anything? Are you trying to suggest that attention-enhancing drugs actually make people DUMBER? I tried using them once. It was probably the most productive night of academia I've ever had. I wouldn't do it again, but what business is it of yours?

    Suppose the fellow goes home at night and has a few too many glasses of scotch. Suppose he has threesomes with sluts. Suppose he does any number of things you don't personally like. Are you gonna take away his funding for that, too?

  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 10, 2008 @11:57AM (#23025536) Homepage Journal

    It is when they are using taxpayer grants to fund their research.

    Yes, that's certainly true. You would want research you pay for to be done at the fastest and most effective way possible, so as to maximize your ROI. So you make an excellent case for the use of cognitive enhancement.

  • by explosivejared (1186049) <hagan DOT jared AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:01PM (#23025594)
    That logic sort of falls apart very easily. People utilize taxpayer funds to facilitate going to work everyday. That doesn't somehow change the rules about privacy. We all depend on the state in one way or another, but that doesn't magically make every action I undertake a legitmate subject for public discourse and requiring of public approval.
  • by dpninerSLASH (969464) * on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:01PM (#23025596) Homepage
    These drugs aren't making Rhodes Scholars out of an imbeciles, they're simply being used to enhance existing skills. And as the parent poster mentioned, we're all benefiting in some form or another by this.

    It is also possible that the sciences are a more attractive field for people who truly do need to take these types of medications, so the disproportionately high percentage of users in that area may actually be closer to reality than the article would have you believe.

    As a learning tool this is a near perfect example of a truly victimless "crime."
  • by MMC Monster (602931) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:02PM (#23025612)
    You say those without a prescription are doing it illegally. Well, how many are legally taking these medications as prescribed by a physician?

    Inderal is a cheap beta blocker ($4 for a month's supply) commonly used for the treatment of hypertension and various heart diseases. It can also be used on an as-needed basis for stage fright.

    Adult ADHD may be treated with Ritalin. If people are prescribed these medicines, then no foul.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:03PM (#23025630)

    Laws are made when a majority who are elected, hold the same philosophical beliefs create and vote for them.

    What planet do you live on? Laws in the US are made when a group of lobbyists bribe *ahem* I meant, give campaign contributions to a sufficient number of politicians to ensure passage of the law.

    If you don't like the laws, participate in the voting and hope your candidate of choice wins. That is what society is.

    Sounds like you actually believed all that crap in Government Class in High School.
  • by t0rkm3 (666910) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:06PM (#23025678)
    Sort of.

    However, then you get into the 'tyranny of the majority' problem. There are some things that are 'off limits' to regulation by the gov't. At least according to the philosophy under which the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were composed.

    That is the problem that I have with a great deal of legislation that goes on within the US. Some of it should not be even considered, but the reading of the Constitution has become so alive that one wonders if any of the Congress Critters can catch it to read it.
  • by bagboy (630125) <neo&arctic,net> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:07PM (#23025682)

    What's "right" and "wrong" in regards to what I do to my own body has nothing to do with society. It's nobody's business but my own.
    Not when it affects those in society. Ie, if you overdose and cannot afford health insurance, are rushed to the ER and tax payer money pays for your treatment and recovery, then it is our business.
  • by TubeSteak (669689) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:11PM (#23025762) Journal

    It is "drug abuse" when drugs are used without the informed consent of an individual; it is simply "illegal drug use" (and very likely legislative abuse of personal liberties at the same time) when an adult makes an informed choice about drug use that doesn't comply with the current law.
    Are you an idiot?
    Drug abuse, by any definition of "abuse" has nothing to do with (informed) consent.

    There is a range of usage patterns [wikimedia.org].
    Some might say it's perscription drug abuse if used other than as perscribed.
    But generally speaking, drug use becomes abuse when there are negative health/social consequences.

    Under your idiotic definition, a fully informed heroin junkie isn't abusing drugs.
  • taking drugs for enhancement is actually self-defeating, psychologically and philosophically. you can cut at the issue with two simple questions: how much of what you do is you? how much of it is the drug?

    philosophically speaking, you lose some of your identity when you self-enhance. if you don't buy my argument, i have two words for you: barry bonds. the guy was a great athlete and probably would have made a huge impact on baseball without steroids. now you tell me what his legacy is. what would his legacy be without steroids? you say he would have achieved less physically? ok, but at least whatever he achieved be his own, and not due to a drug, which therefore tarnishes his legacy and diminishes it, to something less than what he would have achieved without steroids

    the issue may seem trivial or laughable, but its not. because you not only alter how the world sees you and your accomplishments, you also alter your own self-perception, permanently and negatively. when you alter how you view yourself, you alter your sense of identity, your individualism, your sense of self-regard and your will. if you shortchange yourself, if you tell yourself that some of what you do or did is because of a drug, instead of your own creativity, perseverence, hard work, charm, etc., then you permanently diminish your own sense of self-regard. on this issue alone, enhancement through drugs is not worth it. because it's one thing to cheat and never get caught. its another to cheat, never get caught, but always know yourself that you are a fake. or even if steroids for sports or brain enhancement for science work were 100% socially acceptable: you still have to deal with how you have altered how yourself view your own accomplishments as being a product of something that is not 100% your own

    i am not talking about habituation or addiction, i am talking about altering the perception of self, and belittling your own contributions. it's a psychological and philosophical trap: you eventually wind up seeking the drug to BE yourself, rather than to ENHANCE yourself. show me someone who says "no, i can always keep those two issues separate," and i'll show you someone who is low on the self-awareness scale and is in fact most vulnerable to this subtle weakening of self-regard and self-identification

    get drunk, smoke marijuana, hey whatever. taking drugs for recreation is actually an act of blotting out the self, destroying oneself temporarily, for the sake of freeing the id and having pleasure. and therefore, this is behavior that is not what i am arguing against in this comment and therefore i am not your typical "just say no to drugs" prude

    what i am saying is that if you do any drug to heighten yourself, you achieve the opposite: you denigrate and diminish a sense of self. it is psychologically and philosophically unavoidable. drugs do not enhance life, they blot it out. for recreation, this is fine. but in any aspect of yourself where you should be emphasizing your own contributions, enhacing yourself, you wind up in the end doing psychological harm in the realm of self-regard, removing oneself from your own calculation to yourself about how much you matter and how much you yourself change in this world, rather than some drug
  • by Gat0r30y (957941) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:19PM (#23025860) Homepage Journal

    This isn't athletics. The point isn't fairness.
    Alright, predictions folks. How long until the Math team / Debate team / Model UN have to pee in a cup to prove they aren't taking "Brain Enhancing" Drugs? I set the over under at 5 years.
  • Re:Fairness (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:20PM (#23025880) Journal
    But then again, life's not fair.

    So if life's not fair, why ban "cheating" with drugs? Cheating is part of being unfair.
  • by Applekid (993327) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:20PM (#23025884)

    Not when it affects those in society. Ie, if you overdose and cannot afford health insurance, are rushed to the ER and tax payer money pays for your treatment and recovery, then it is our business.
    I would heartlessly argue that someone who's rushed to the ER because they were partying too hard and spending all their money on drugs instead of health insurance shouldn't be treated with the bill paid by society's safety net the same way as, say, a homeless person hit by a car should be treated.

    That whole "my body my business" should cut both ways when you have the means by which to abuse said body.
  • by B'Trey (111263) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:21PM (#23025904)
    Horsefeathers. You (that is, society) assumed that burden on its own. It doesn't place any obligations on me. It's as if I decided to come over and mow your lawn for you. You'd probably be delighted that you didn't have to do it yourself anymore.(1) But if, six months later, I came banging on your door and demanded that you stop allowing your kids to play in your own back yard because they were leaving toys laying around that made it harder for me to mow the grass, you'd most likely tell me to take a hike.

    If you don't want to pay the cost associated with my behavior, then don't pay it. If I overdose on drugs, let me lay there and die if I don't have insurance or can't pay the bill myself if you so choose. But your actions in assuming responsibility for my debts don't give you any legitimate authority over my behavior.

    (1)Unless, of course, you're one of those weird people who enjoys mowing the lawn, but we're assuming for the sake of the analogy that you aren't that warped an individual.
  • by Princess Aurora (1134535) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:25PM (#23025936)
    Those of us who are trying to compete with these people are being harmed. Now you put us in a bad position--take them too, or fall behind. Is that fair to us? We don't get a choice in whether we actually want to take these--take them, or don't have a career. Why should I have to risk my body because someone else is? Maybe my body can't handle these drugs and they'll kill me at 40, and not that other person.

    It'd be like if you HAD to drive 130 mph on the freeway to keep up with traffic. Sure, you could not drive that fast, but that's dangerous--you're like the guy driving 40 in a 70 mph zone. You might not be comfortable at that speed (or even capable of handling the car at that speed), and by driving that fast, you're putting yourself at a high risk. In that way, the decisions of the other people force you to make a choice between two bad things: drive too fast and risk your safety, or drive "too slow" and risk your safety.

  • by backwardMechanic (959818) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:30PM (#23025996) Homepage
    I admire your romanticism, but science isn't sport. It's not about a fair fight between equals. Science is about using any method you can to explain or measure a detail of the universe that nobody else can. So long as you do it yourself (i.e. you didn't actually steal someone else's idea or result), anything goes. There is no Nobel prize for featherweight science. Either you're the best, or you're not - and your funding will reflect this.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:32PM (#23026020)

    Those of us who are trying to compete with these people are being harmed. Now you put us in a bad position--take them too, or fall behind. Is that fair to us?

    Who knows if it's fair. Who cares. Is your only purpose in doing science to compete with other scientists? I thought the point was advancing the base of human knowledge. I don't think these drugs are having as big an effect as you think, anyway. My personal experience was that they enhance focus, not intelligence. You aren't going to come to any sudden insight you would not otherwise have reached, but it might help you get there faster, by preventing the "scatter brain."

    If you are so concerned about fairness, you ought to be downright outraged at the fact that millions of children in the United States are taking these drugs -- surely these students are unfairly outcompeting their peers in school. Right?

  • Nanny state... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mutube (981006) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:34PM (#23026054) Homepage

    But your actions in assuming responsibility for my debts don't give you any legitimate authority over my behavior.

    I think that is best single argument I have ever heard against state interference in people's behaviour (aka. the 'nanny state'). Interesting, thanks.
  • by B'Trey (111263) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:34PM (#23026060)
    This doesn't make any sense. Even if someone is woefully addicted, it's not like they take drugs by accident-...

    Who claimed they did? I intentionally drove my car to work. Did I commit automobile abuse? So why, if I intentionally take an illegal drug, did I commit drug "abuse?" If I take a prescribed pain pill, I'm using a drug. If I take the exact same drug for the exact same condition but I purchased it from an illegal source, it's drug abuse. The point is that, generally speaking, we've allowed legislatures to define what is use and what is abuse, and that we attach moral judgments to those terms. There is no legitimate moral or rational justification for the dividing lines that are drawn, and we shouldn't allow ourselves to mindlessly follow the legislatures judgments on what constitutes use and what constitutes abuse.

    Would you suggest that we call what child molesters, who might not be able to help themselves, do as "illegal children touching" instead of "child abuse"?

    You're conflating different meanings of the word, or at least different ways to interpret similarly formed sentences. Child molesters are abusing children because they are harming the children. The abuse that is occurring is from the point of view of the child. Are you arguing that drug users are causing harm to the drugs? If not, then your analogy falls apart.

  • Re:Adderall XR (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jesdynf (42915) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:35PM (#23026064) Homepage
    Nobody trying to convince me how amphetamines help them think more clearly should miss that many punctuation marks.
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:39PM (#23026136) Journal
    The intention was always for the Constitution to be a living document, its meaning adapting to the times. This is the reason that there are so few specifics in there, and many of those specifics were intended to set a baseline after which Congress would take over in setting standards.

    I read your statement as suggesting that it has become too alive, which may well be the case. Its meanings should be interpreted in the light of the current day; what was offensive 50 years ago is no longer considered offensive, and so no longer a First Amendment violation. This also forms part of the debate over the Second Amendment; even if one believes that there is an individual right, does that right extend to machineguns, which were still more than 70 years away from practicality at the time of the adoption of the Bill of Rights? There are Fourth Amendment issues that the framers wouldn't have dreamed of, such as whether alcohol checkpoints constitute an unreasonable search.

    I bring these up not as debate points, but as examples where the classic interpretations of the Constitution have been or are being challenged. There doubtless will be additional questions brought up in the future that we have not considered to date because technology or cultural changes will force a re-examination of the Constitution in light of the situation at that time. But again, that's how it was intended to work.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:40PM (#23026156)

    I think the idea is more that it would be unfair to the academics who don't use the drugs. These drugs were developed, as far as I am aware, to help those who otherwise couldn't perform at their normal level. If I live in the "publish or perish" world of academics, must I now take these drugs to be competitive?

    As I keep repeating, I don't think these drugs make people as "smart" as you might think. And even if they did, if there were no terrible side effects, why would that be bad? You say you don't want to take drugs in order to compete. But what about staying up all night? Are you being unfairly treated because you refuse to stay up 48 hours in a block, like some other researchers do?

    You work within your means and what you are willing to do. Others have a different set of criteria. I don't see how this implies unfairness.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:43PM (#23026190) Homepage Journal

    This doesn't make any sense.

    Well, lets see.

    Even if someone is woefully addicted, it's not like they take drugs by accident

    Some addictions can, in fact, be the result of abuse; for instance, when a pregnant woman knowingly takes drugs recreationally that may very likely result in her addiction (which is fine, I have no problem with that) and that of her fetus (that, I define as "wrong" because it has the potential to abuse the fetus's liberties now and in its future.) Where I see you as in error here is in defining "woefully addicted" as a synonym for "wrong." If I choose to take a risk of becoming addicted, and in fact this comes to pass, that was my personal choice. It isn't "wrong." It may well be a poor choice by other people's standards, but what I get out of my actions as measured by myself against the costs to me isn't your balance to judge until, or unless, what I do directly affects you. If I walk up to you on the street and stab you with a hypodermic full of heroin, now we're talking about "abuse."

    Would you suggest that we call what child molesters, who might not be able to help themselves, do as "illegal children touching" instead of "child abuse"?

    A child abuser, in the sense that you're using the term, is someone who is violating the privacy and sexuality of an individual who (a) we think cannot make an informed decision and (b) is often subject to power (misuse of authority, or expression of control without authority) they cannot counter; that use of power is an abuse of the child's ability to make choices for itself. We don't subject children to the power of adults in order to expose them to any act an adult might choose; we do it to protect them. Consequently, when an adult abuses that power to act in ways that we consider not in the best interests of the child, we find that to be an extreme offense against the child.

    The ideal of liberty is that my right to swing my fist stops where your face begins. If I take a potentially addicting drug, this is "swinging my fist at myself" and is none of your business, regardless of your opinion of how well reasoned my choice is. If I coerce or force someone else (child or otherwise) into taking a punch from me, or punching itself, this is the very definition of abuse. So I have no right to addict you; I have no right to force or coerce any person who cannot make an informed decision according to the dictates of their own conscience into any act, and that covers child abuse as well as it does any other kind of abuse.

    Adding the concept of an abuser being "unable to control the act of abuse" in no way opens the door to acceptance of the fact that they have assaulted the liberties of another person. If they cannot control themselves in the "swinging of their fists", then society needs to control them. There is an inherent difference between what rights we have to do things to ourselves, and what rights we have to do to things to others. This difference is in no way ameliorated by one's ability to control one's self, as far as I'm concerned. If you can't control yourself with regard towards your actions as they directly affect others, you should not be excused for what you do: What you are able to do should be constrained, which is simply acting in the best interests of the other members of society.

    The root problem with today's "child abuse" laws is the mismatch between the laws drawing a line in the sand based upon age. They use this line (wrongly) as if it provides an effective and reasonable match with every individual's attainment of the ability to make an informed choice according to the dictates of a rational and sufficiently mature conscience. This congruence is not valid and is unlikely to ever be valid, barring mandatory machine education and a lot more sophisticated social system than we have now. We could certainly do a lot better than ag

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:43PM (#23026204)
    Surely you are aware that drug prohibition is not preventing that from happening, because it does happen. However, without drug prohibition, the chances for overdose would be significantly reduced, through proper measurement of doses, quality of access, and so on. Ibuprofen overdose isn't a very big issue for the community, because most people who are over dosing, are not doing so on purpose, and the people who do overdose are likely committing suicide. I'm sure an argument similar to your own was used during the days of alcohol prohibition, and it's certainly a concern, but not a major one. History also shows us that death due to overdose goes down, after a prohibition is lifted. People were getting worse than overdose from the poorly made cocktails that were getting made in Joe Average's bathtub, because Joe Average doesn't know nearly as much about producing alcohol as Smirnoff.

    But, let's just assume that it's a huge issue. Let's assume that ending drug prohibition would cause MORE overdoses, even though logically it would be less. Explain the situation with marijuana. No human being will ever be admitted to a hospital because of a THC overdose from smoking too much pot. It's just not possible to overdose on it, because you'll pass out long before it will reach toxic levels. That's not the issue, of course, the issue is freedom. Concern for public welfare isn't the real reason, otherwise we'd go back to having alcohol in the list of prohibited drugs, and tobacco would get thrown in as well. We'd get mandatory exercise, and every McDonald's would get bull dozed and replaced by a salad bar. All at government expense.
  • by khallow (566160) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:44PM (#23026222)

    Under your idiotic definition, a fully informed heroin junkie isn't abusing drugs.
    That sounds reasonable. I don't know why you're getting worked up over this.
  • by nbritton (823086) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:47PM (#23026254)
    The same can be said for sports injuries.
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:49PM (#23026284)

    An example. I have this great idea, but my resume isn't as good as this other person who took drugs all the time, while I didn't take drugs. When we both apply for the same $100k grant to do our project, he gets the money because his resume is better--they feel that the $100k is better spent with that person because of his past work. Now my idea won't get developed because I don't have the money I need to implement it. I fail on both my goals: advance the subject, and be employed.

    Okay, let's switch things around a little. Suppose the other guy got the grant because he never sleeps, and therefore can produce a larger volume of research. Now, in order to compete with this guy, you basically have to stay awake all the time. So now do you want to enforce a rule that a scientist must sleep a certain number of hours every day, in order to stay fair to other scientists who actually like sleeping?

    Would you suggest that someone who was born without an arm should never get a prosthetic, and be doomed to work in jobs that only require one arm for his entire life?

    No, and I'm not sure how you got that from what I've said. Certainly, those who require a prosthetic should have one.

  • by sydneyfong (410107) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:49PM (#23026288) Homepage Journal
    I'm not living in America, but I had to ask: if that's what's happening then why is nobody trying to change it?
  • by s20451 (410424) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:51PM (#23026322) Journal

    You aren't going to come to any sudden insight you would not otherwise have reached, but it might help you get there faster


    I'm going to go ahead and assume that you don't work in modern academia. It's all about quantity. Ideally it's about both quantity and quality, but the only people who can get away with just quality are the very senior professors who already have tenure, who can't get promoted any further, and who are already in the senior ranks of all the academic societies (fellow of the IEEE, etc.). So the idea that a drug would keep your quality the same, while improving your quantity, is incredibly tempting (not to mention making the quantity vs. quality problem worse).
  • by pclminion (145572) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:54PM (#23026362)

    I'm going to go ahead and assume that you don't work in modern academia. It's all about quantity. Ideally it's about both quantity and quality, but the only people who can get away with just quality are the very senior professors who already have tenure, who can't get promoted any further, and who are already in the senior ranks of all the academic societies (fellow of the IEEE, etc.). So the idea that a drug would keep your quality the same, while improving your quantity, is incredibly tempting (not to mention making the quantity vs. quality problem worse).

    Then we have a fundamental problem with how science is conducted. The problem isn't the drugs. The drug use is a symptom of flawed standards for scientific research.

  • by fyngyrz (762201) * on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:55PM (#23026386) Homepage Journal

    Not when it affects those in society. Ie, if you overdose and cannot afford health insurance, are rushed to the ER and tax payer money pays for your treatment and recovery, then it is our business.

    No. You're placing the blame on the wrong party. The person who overdosed didn't cause you to pay for their care. The legislators who put the law in place that says you have to pay for their care are the ones who connected the action of the drug user to your wallet. Your blame, and your reaction, can only be correctly directed at the legislators.

    If a law is made that says every time I eat a cheeseburger, you must pay fifteen dollars, this in no way indicts me as a bad person for eating cheesburgers, nor does my eating cheeseburgers affect you for any reason that you can legitimately lay upon me. The problem is the law; the making of it, the enforcement of it, the support of it, if any, that you have extended. In the meantime, I should continue to have the liberty to go on eating cheeseburgers as I choose. You, on the other hand, need to do something about your legislators.

  • by shaka999 (335100) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:55PM (#23026388)
    Thats all well and good but it doesn't work in the "real" world. Your more or less saying that if anyone sees an injured person they should be left to die on their own. I mean it was there choice to use the bike/motorcycle/car/skateboard/.... and they should suffer the consequences.

    Once you agree that a moral person has some responsibility to help a person in need you've agreed that society has a burden based on everyones actions. The only question is where you draw the line.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:57PM (#23026406)
    Under your idiotic definition, a fully informed heroin junkie isn't abusing drugs.

    Why is he abusing drugs? Absent draconian drug prohibition laws, heroin would be cheap. The alleged crime that is associated with heroin usage is largely the fault of the current drug laws. What damage is he doing to his body? Go ahead, do the research. I'll wait... Morphine derivates, unlike alcohol and tobacco (both legal) and amphetamines, etc., aren't really damaging to the body. The biggest danger is secondary infections or diseases - hepatitis, AIDS, etc. That danger would be almost entirely eliminated if we abandoned the war on drugs. Another common problem is malnutrition due to the combined effect of the drugs appetite suppression and the cost of the drugs. The third danger - overdose - is largely a product of the underground (and thus variable and unsanitary) distribution system. In other words, make heroin legal so that there's a safe, clean and reliable supply and make sure that the users eat regularly and there is very little harm in heroin use or even addiction.

    And yes, I know this will surprise most people. Everyone knows heroin is a horrible, dirty, disgusting drug that turns people into abominations willing to sell their own kids for another fix. If you're going to argue that, do the research first. And come correct. Don't come with a bunch of meaningless, BS quotes from some anti-drug source. Come with facts and hard evidence to disprove what I say, or don't come at all.
  • by L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @12:59PM (#23026450)
    One person achieving without enhancing therapies what someone else needs enhancing therapies to achieve does not lessen the achievement of either party.

    All it means is that twice as many people are capable of achieving the same goal. In this case, it's performing highly complex and detailed scientific analysis.

    Isn't that a good thing?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:00PM (#23026464)

    Under your idiotic definition, a fully informed heroin junkie isn't abusing drugs.
    He's not. According to the federal courts, addiction is not a disease. Many experts on addiction agree that it is not a disease [wikipedia.org]. He is choosing to use the drugs. The effect they have on him as well as the effect withdrawing from them weigh into this choice, but it is, at its root, a choice.

    I used to be a heroin user. Wasted so much of my time and money on the stuff. Alienated close friends, irreparably destroyed relationships with family member, dragged my girlfriend and daughter through hell, but deep down, the choice was mine to do so. I've been clean three years now. It's a constant struggle, but it was my choice to get clean, and it is my choice to continue to be clean.

    I didn't need a twelve step program or a jail sentence or witnessing a friend overdosing to stop (though I have been through all of those things and more). All I needed to do was sit down and rationally weigh my choices, which, I'll admit was hard because all I could do was think about getting high. I came to the conclusion one night as the haze cleared that there was no mystical heroin demon forcing me down and making me do it. It was me.

    My opinion as a former drug user: so long as they're not infringing on the rights of others and as long as they are made to pay for their own health care, (I am for a system that excludes drug users from coverage if the illness can be attributed to their drug use) let them do what they want. The moment they run afoul of the law or become a drain on society, feel free to bitchslap them back into line.

    You'll be surprised at the resources that will be available. Instead of chasing John McPothead that just wants to get high, eat some Doritos, and watch MXC, your police force will be able to patrol your neighborhood and stop real crime like robbery, rape, and murder and will have the resources needed to effectively investigate those crimes that they don't stop.
  • by 4e617474 (945414) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:03PM (#23026512)

    Are you an idiot? Drug abuse, by any definition of "abuse" has nothing to do with (informed) consent.

    Um, actually, there are definitions of "abuse" that deal with exactly that. There are better definitions for gp to refute - the ones that deal with the expectation that one lives up to an obligation to behave properly. The term "drug abuse" implies that any substance that can chemically interact with your body - even if naturally occurring and/or readily available without outside assistance - defaults to a state where society has a list of uses that are acceptable for you to engage in. This list starts blank and you are obligated to pay for the expense of satisfying society that there are acceptable uses, and you cannot ever demonstrate to society that you are up to the task of deciding the matter entirely for yourself. Even if you're a qualified scientist.

    Under your idiotic definition, a fully informed heroin junkie isn't abusing drugs.

    Under his definition a heroin junkie may be abusing many things - the charity of people who will preserve him from the full range of consequences of his decisions, treatment programs that he has no intention of actually making full use of but must attend to avoid penalties of one form or another. Then again, he may not be abusing any damn thing at all [wikipedia.org]. But heroin? How can you "abuse heroin"? Society doesn't spell out a set of obligations to you in exchange for its efforts to keep it available for you, or acknowledge a right way and a wrong way to use it. It's like accusing someone of "abusing serial killing" or "abusing date rape". If you're against the use of certain drugs by anyone anywhere, then the charge is "heroin use" or "cocaine use". Calling it "abuse" is a way of stifling debate - "Are you for or against permitting abuse? Are you saying you're in favor of legalizing abuse?"

  • by loteck (533317) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:03PM (#23026522) Homepage
    We can't afford the lobbyists required to get it changed.
  • by bishiraver (707931) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:06PM (#23026550) Homepage
    People are either complicit or complacent. It's almost always been the case, and people are either too ignorant or too lazy to truly understand the issues - so they vote with what the media tells them, instead of researching records, facts, and generally going about things in an informed manner. A democratic republic only works when the voting populace is informed and active - and we don't have that. Thus the democratic process breaks down and becomes a capitalist oligarchy.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:10PM (#23026604)
    You missed his point entirely, that IS his point, the junkie you described is not "abusing" (a charged word that elicits thoughts of awful crimes against actual victims) himself, but is rather choosing to use illegal drugs. The idea that he is abusing himself is pretty preposterous when you think about it, how can someone be both the abuser and the victim of the same act?

    The term drug abuser was carefully crafted to elicit just the right emotions from the general public, in the same way the word terrorist is often inappropriately used.
  • by Some_Llama (763766) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:10PM (#23026606) Homepage Journal
    "I'm not living in America, but I had to ask: if that's what's happening then why is nobody trying to change it?"

    People ARE trying to change it, the problem is with a general populace that is fat, happy and placated with endless hours of entertainment and blasted with pro-law propaganda continuously (that ironically they pay for) and a government run by special interests (tobacco lobby, alcohol lobby, energy lobby, textile lobby (cotton), prison lobby, etc).

    there have been more than a few states that have decriminalized marijuana but federal laws still mandate incarceration, often with mandatory minimum sentencing. Changing laws on a federal level is almost impossible due to the heavy lobbying efforts of those mentioned previously.

    It's getting to the point where the legal system is collapsing on itself with 1/10+ of the population incarcerated and drug use still as rampant as ever.
  • by ahodgson (74077) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:11PM (#23026620)
    Or smoking. Or drinking. Or eating unhealthy food. Or not exercising enough. Who gets to draw that line?

  • by d34thm0nk3y (653414) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:12PM (#23026630)
    I would heartlessly argue that someone who's rushed to the ER because they were partying too hard and spending all their money on drugs instead of health insurance shouldn't be treated with the bill paid by society's safety net the same way as, say, a homeless person hit by a car should be treated.

    I would agree so long as the provision is against ALL unhealthy habits. A fat person with no insurance should not get treated either.

    But that would never happen so let's stop singling out drug users.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:13PM (#23026638)
    Even if you say that, when they get an emergency patient, they're much too busy saving that person's life to investigate whether it's all their fault and they should be left to die.

    Honestly, I still prefer it that way.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:21PM (#23026766) Journal
    But generally speaking, drug use becomes abuse when there are negative health/social consequences.

    Under your idiotic definition, a fully informed heroin junkie isn't abusing drugs.


    By your definition a fully informed heroin junkie might not be abusing drugs either. If someone on a heroin maintenance program can manage their jobs, friends, and family, because they're not forced to spend all their time and money drug seeking, where are the negative health/social consequences?
  • by Roger W Moore (538166) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:22PM (#23026772) Journal
    So who decides whether you should be treated or not? How does the ambulance decide whether to not to come in the first place? What happens if you abstain from drugs but have a heart attack at a party where someone is taking drugs and the medical crew jump to the wrong conclusion? You cannot have sensible medical coverage based on acceptable causes. By the time you find out that you are treating an irresponsible idiot you've already treated them and trying to make that decision before you treat them will lead to people with "acceptable" problems being denied access to treatment.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:25PM (#23026810) Journal
    If your friend had access to known concentrations of pharmaceutically clean opiates, instead of unknown quantities of whatever the hell black tar is he might be alive today.
  • by Rival (14861) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:26PM (#23026820) Homepage Journal
    I'm not sure whether to mod this interesting, insightful or funny (in a sarcasm sense.) It all depends on how (or whether) people correlate disagreement and judgment. Regardless, I think the parent ought to be modded up, as it asks some deep questions.

    Personally, I believe that classifying any decision or action as right or wrong is a false dichotomy. Any decision or action can be broken down into pieces that may be judged right or wrong (some dependently and some independently of each other,) and doing such an analysis is both recursive and geometric. Where to "draw the line" on such an analysis is what makes such judgments subjective. How to weigh each facet during the analysis is what makes the process philosophical, moral and ethical.

    That being said, while I agree that any judgment we make will be both subjective and philosophical, I believe that that the concepts of right and wrong themselves are based on absolutes. Obviously this is a belief, albeit one shared by a number of religions and philosophies. I don't want to start a debate, though, so I'll make a technological analogy.

    Assume that people are processors, and that these processors do not know their internal logic. Any given processor thinks that it is generating correct output for a given set of inputs, but different processors generate different results for same set of inputs. The question is, how can the results of any particular processor for a particular set of inputs be verified?

    Well, the processor cannot reliably test itself, as the faculties performing the test are suspect. Other processors cannot reliably model the internal logic of the flawed system, as it is not known. Since different processors generate different results for the same set of inputs, their reliability is unknown. The only option is to use a set of other processors to generate output from the same input. This may generate a consensus of what the correct output should be. (Depending on the distribution of flaws in subcomponents of the processors, the standard deviation of the results may vary significantly for different input sets.) Any consensus that is reached would be analogous to cultural morality. But any judgment by a processor, even if it includes as an input a given consensus, must be subjective.

    So how can any results be absolutely verified? As I see it, there are only two ways. The first would be to have a reference processor that is known good, and compare results generated by the reference processor. The second is to have a reference document outlining the correct results.

    Obviously, different religions claim to have reference processors and/or reference documents. Which of these (if any and to what extent and/or in what combination) to believe is where religious and philosophical differences occur.
  • by bbasgen (165297) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:27PM (#23026828) Homepage

      Who makes that judgment? Is it the EMT responding on the scene? Is the the ambulance driver? Does the doctor decide when you are on the operating table?

      You are going to ask people whose profession is to help fix people and save lives to determine who is worthy of being saved, and who isn't? This is the horribly unethical problem that is the notion of being "uninsured" in the first place. You want to compound that with subjective life style judgments?

      So, a gay person with AIDS is treated by a fundamentalist doctor who believes sexuality is a lifestyle choice, and thus, AIDS treatment costs are an unnecessary burden on the tax payer. This is truly the extreme of what the US already has in place with HMOs who are constantly crunching numbers, as opposed to doing everything in their power to help people get better.

      Sure, what you say is a wonderful idea. Freedom of choice, my body, and all that. But this thing is called society for a reason. If you really want to destroy yourself, do it outside the realm of society. But of course, these junkies don't hold such noble notions of personal responsibility, so you can't expect them (nor society) to act in accord with such notions.
  • by gtall (79522) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:31PM (#23026900)
    Way to miss the gp's point entirely. He wasn't arguing science isn't done that way, he's arguing you will have no respect for yourself if you do science that way. And if you do science that way and still respect yourself, you have deeper issues than respect dogging you.

    Gerry
  • by shaka999 (335100) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:33PM (#23026936)
    No, I'm saying that your decision to assist, in whatever way, doesn't justify your imposing your will on their actions.

    If I help you in any way then I am imposing my will on you. If I don't help you I am imposing my will on you.

    If I am aware or you in any way and that affects my actions in any way I am imposing my will on you in some form. Its unavoidable.

    If I live next to you and you don't mow your lawn you are imposing your will on me and making me suffer consequences I might not want. If you do mow your lawn you impact me as well.

    The question comes down to what the natural state of a situation is. If I'm in a suburban neighborhood then the natural state is probably to mow a lawn. If I'm in the country it might be the opposite. Everyone can not act any damn way they want without impacting others.
  • by Jasin Natael (14968) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:47PM (#23027158)

    So, to sum up, you propose interpreting the phrase "drug abuse" as 'drug-induced abuse of others and/or social institutions'. To criminalize the very act of use is different, and should be rightly called "illegal drug use".

    I think I agree.

  • by bckrispi (725257) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:55PM (#23027272)
    The insurance companies, apparently.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @01:57PM (#23027316) Journal
    Alcohol was prohibited for a reason, it was wisely repealed when it was clear prohibition did more harm than good. I believe the same is true of opiates. You simply can't compare an unregulated legal market 100 years ago to an unregulated illegal market today and conclude that a regulated legal market today would be worse. That simply doesn't follow.
  • by twistedsymphony (956982) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @02:01PM (#23027384) Homepage
    "I cut my hand bad while wood working...", "I broke my leg while roller blading...", "I got smashed at a bar picked a fight and was bludgeoned to sh*t...", "I fell through some ice while snowmobiling and got hypothermia..."

    How are any of those being taken care of by the ER and "billed to society" any different than "I used too many drugs and became ill..." aside from the fact that you believe it to be a poor personal choice?
  • by osu-neko (2604) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @02:22PM (#23027714)

    Some people do. It must be subjective. Hmm :p

    Because different people don't agree on the subject, it must be subjective? It follows from that that the age of the Earth is subjective. Different people believe it's anywhere from six thousand to five billion years old.

    It does not follow from the fact that different people hold different views on something that it's subjective. It could be subjective, or it could be some people are just plain wrong.

  • by mosb1000 (710161) <mosb1000@mac.com> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @02:35PM (#23027870)
    It is unfair to force people not to abuse their bodies. If we as a society can't stomach the thought of letting them die, it is our decision to help them, not them forcing our hand to do so.

    You can't be compassionate but then attach strings (I'll help you, but only if you don't abuse drugs). People almost always have some hand in what fate befals them, and almost never have complete control over it.

    It is an exercise in futility to try to judge who is worthy of charity by setting regulatory standards and making sweeping moral judgements.
  • by commodoresloat (172735) * on Thursday April 10, 2008 @03:21PM (#23028390)
    So if someone uses drugs and contracts a communicable disease as a result, you would not have society treat them, and let them continue to spread the disease until someone catches it who can't be blamed for taking unnecessary risks? Do you see the problem here? It is in society's best interest to address the health problems of individuals even if they got those problems through objectionable behavior. You can address the behavior in other ways, but trying to punish individuals by not taking care of the sick actually punishes the whole society. You're asking society to pay a bigger price in the long run just so you can feel good about having taken a punitive (and, as you yourself acknowledge, somewhat mean-spirited) stance.
  • by pomakis (323200) <pomakis@pobox.com> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @03:22PM (#23028396) Homepage

    If a law is made that says every time I eat a cheeseburger, you must pay fifteen dollars, this in no way indicts me as a bad person for eating cheesburgers, nor does my eating cheeseburgers affect you for any reason that you can legitimately lay upon me.

    I don't agree with this. If you're aware that a consequence of you eating a cheeseburger is that somebody else suffers (in this case financially) to an extent greater than your gain, and you proceed to eat a cheeseburger despite this knowledge, then in my opinion your action is unethical. It doesn't matter whether the consequence is direct or as a result of the laws of the land; it's a known and predictable consequence that you're consciously ignoring. Yes, the law itself may indeed be the fundamental problem at work in this example, but it by no means removes you from any ethical responsibility.

    Heavy drug users are similarly placing a net drain on society as a whole by relying on others to pay for the consequences of their drug habits. I consider this unethical, even if I personally believe that the laws defining the system are flawed.

  • by sentientbrendan (316150) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @03:23PM (#23028420)
    >Explain the situation with marijuana.

    The situation with marijuana is irrational, since it isn't that harmful or addictive compared to cigarettes and alcohol, which are both legal.

    However, please don't equate legalizing marijuana with legalizing drugs.

    Heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamines don't just kill people, they kill communities. Legalizing heroin is like legalizing zombies.

    You might think, oh hey, cool. I want to have a pet zombie. But, then one day it escapes, and the whole city turns into the walking dead.
  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @03:32PM (#23028526) Homepage Journal
    No, there is objective consistency to measure these actions. It's not just a word game: "right" and "wrong" are measured against actual results, and actual values, usually stated in the laws themselves. So when a "Drug Use Reduction Act" doesn't result in lower drug use, just more people in jail (where they do more drugs), that is objectively wrong.

    You have illustrated how majorities can control what's legal vs illegal, but not what is right or wrong. Even when many values are subject to change, when some do not, like logical consistency and responsibility of a cause for its effects, that leaves right and wrong independent of how majorities change.
  • by bbasgen (165297) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @04:14PM (#23029082) Homepage

      That ideal of yours is all well and good, but you are also recognizing above that their choices effect you. This is due to the social fabric we live in. What choices can a person make that don't have effects on society? If you drive to work, someone needs to pay for that road that wouldn't be necessary if you weren't driving.

      The struggle between Authoritarianism versus Libertarianism stem from these issues, but the simplistic thinking expressed by the extreme views of either side are not satisfactory. Just as a society can't justly dictate how a person should live their life (e.g. don't do drugs), that does not make the opposite extreme the only other option. In other words, it is not also not just for society to allow people to do whatever they want. We know this as a general truth (murder, etc), yet when it comes to some particulars such as health care, it finds expression despite such glaring flaws.

      I am positing that on some issues, a compromise must be struck. Universal health care, yes, but free choice also.
  • by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Thursday April 10, 2008 @04:31PM (#23029314)
    My poke is not at illegal immigrants.

    My poke is at the *business* hiring them which is making me pay for part of it's cost of doing business so it has higher profits. That's the main thing corporations do-- find ways to push their costs outside of their company onto society as a whole.

    If businesses were required to pay fair wages and we didn't provide free health care and schooling, the illegal immigrant problem wouldn't really exist. It would be more like back in the 50's when it was background noise (and teenagers did the work of illegal immigrants) as opposed to the 4 million that crossed the border last year alone (850k were caught and sent back.. the rest are here now)
  • by spun (1352) <loverevolutionar ... m ['hoo' in gap]> on Thursday April 10, 2008 @04:53PM (#23029570) Journal
    Say someone offers to sell you land. But the land comes with stipulations. Say you have to feed their cats, and anyone you sell the land to also has to feed their cats.

    You might not want to buy land with strings like that attached, but I'm sure you'd agree that it would be morally within that land owner's rights to attempt to sell such land. You wouldn't go around claiming he had no right to put such stipulations on, if you didn't like it, you wouldn't buy it. And you wouldn't go buying it and ignoring the stipulations, would you?

    The thing is, everyone who has bought land in the US has bought land with such stipulations on it. They freely chose to do so. You could buy the land from them, but not without the stipulations.

    The government is not an unrelated third party. They uphold your claims to the land, and defend you from those who would take it away. They are also in charge of enforcing the stipulations.

    If you don't like that, you are free to shop around for a better deal. But you have no right to get the deal you'd like. You seem to think you have a moral right to buy land in an area you like with no strings attached. You don't. You get to choose from among the alternatives offered. So sorry if the alternative you'd like is not available, but that is equally an issue under any sort of lassez faire free market system, as well.

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