What do I think of Andrewís proposal?
"As a character in Trainspotting observes, after vomiting
from a heroin injection, drugs do make you feel great; similarly, 16 year old Caroline
Wakefield in Traffic, takes drugs because she enjoys the experience, even though it comes
at a high price. So why arenít we making safer drugs and selling them under controls
like alcohol, to replace the illegal ones sold by criminals, asks Andrew L. Urban."
Perhaps you should ask the Chinese who were caught up in the Opium wars.
Perhaps you should ask the policy makers when they last chatted with a
Perhaps you should ask a homeless person who lives for the next bottle of MacWilliams
Perhaps you should ask a straight-A, middle class, private school educated teenager why
she sucks down bongs like thereís no tomorrow and why she occasionally snorts coke.
If given the chance, she might respond with something akin to "middle-class
guilt." If only she could articulate this to her parents and talk about it at school
without derision from her peers.
Perhaps you should ask the electorate who, ignorant of the issues involved, stymie the
progress towards a "solution."
Perhaps you should ask the 70-80 percent of heroin users why it is that they have not
gone on to become addicted to the substance, but use it only on the weekends.
There is no solution to "The Drug Problem." There never will be. Drug use
occurs as a continuum in ALL societies. It would be a sweeping generalisation to state
that ALL people experiment in drug use and abuse, just as it is a ridiculous statement to
suggest that people with addictive personalities are the only ones affected by the drug
"problem" and the only ones who do become "addicted."
Selling drugs under "controlled" conditions is a noble aim, but it guarantees
success (to reduce harm) as convincingly as Nancy Reaganís (in)famous quip,
"Just Say NO." Doctor shoppers seem to do quite well in their hunt for
benzodiazepines, and this group of drugs is (perhaps) the most difficult to come off.
Fatal, in fact, if not done under the right conditions.
Your proposal is indeed noble, and I support your aims to create discourse. I
donít know how well such a proposal will go down at the 2nd International
Conference on Drugs and Young People, though. Perhaps you could hang out in the Foyer of
Melbourneís Conference Centre on the 4th, 5th and 6th
of April and see how well you go. Iím going, might see you there. Iím sure
"Traffic" will be given the air time it deserves.
But really, you should stick to your discipline. You review film quite well. People use
drugs for too many reasons, way beyond the simplistic "just to feel good"
suggestion you make in your spiel, and it is for this reason that I have to disagree with
your proposal as strongly as I disagree with your appraisal of the film, Traffic.
I am pleased, however, that you support your review with the goals, intentions and
explanations of the writer and producers. Indeed, Traffic is a wake up call for those who
do not understand the breadth of the problem. As a health care professional working in
Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation, I am too aware of the issues involved for the film to
have had any impact, and am pleased to be pissed off by it, if this was the
"There is an enormous demand for drugs in this society, and until we deal with
that demand and why it exists and the psychological issues and issues of rehabilitation,
we are never going to make a dent in this war."
Sorry, NOT "spot on, Marshall!"
He, too, should stick to his discipline. His "art" has created discourse,
sure. But just as the film suggests of policy makerís hot air, so too is this film.
"As Traffic so clearly and so effectively shows, people take drugs because they
like the effect."
WRONG!!! Way too simplistic. People take drugs for as many reasons as there are fairies
dancing on the head of a pin.
We will never make a dent in this war. But that doesnít mean we should stop caring
for its casualties. My only praise for the film is that it attempts to make a valid point.
I am saddened, though, that the platitudes and accolades I just know in my bones I will
hear about (the upcoming Academy Award Ceremony) will frustrate me as I again see yet
another young life complicated by the complexity of the issues involved, and the white
bread masses watch, nod, go "mmm" and the cost of Naltrexone remains almost as
prohibitively expensive (to ex-opiate users) as the heroin that originally caused its
requirement, but subsidised to alcoholics. The hierarchy of which drugs are considered
evil is the problem rather than the drug use/abuse itself.
Your proposal is naÔve, but well intentioned. I am repeating myself, here. Stick to
your discipline, or run your proposal by someone who works at the frontline before
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Published March 29, 2001