Editorial | Issue 11
As you may have been able to tell from the cover, we’re having a look at drugs this week. Just as I am not allowed to print anything in Critic about people peeing on each other for sexual pleasure, I’m also not allowed to say anything that might incite or promote drug taking. So I won’t. But I can tell you a little about my personal experience and thoughts on the subject.
I have taken maybe a slightly wider range of illicit substances than most: Travelling in Asia and Eastern Europe both facilitate the flow of substances, at much lower prices than NZ, and especially Dunedin. I have had amazing, fantastical experiences on drugs, and I have had some fairly terrible experiences as well. I would never recommend to anyone that they take any drug. But I am more than willing to talk about what different drugs are and what they can, and probably will do to you.
I think that what is missing in New Zealand is any serious debate about what different types of drugs do, why some are okay, some are kind of okay, and some are just straight up terrible.
Alcohol has the potential to be an incredibly harmful drug. There is absolutely no difference between alcohol and other narcotics; it was simply decided that alcohol would be legal, and most other narcotics would not. You would hope this decision was made because it was thought that alcohol caused less harm, and that its harms could be better managed. But you have to question whether this is still true in New Zealand, especially in comparison with cannabis. Can anyone really argue that more harm is caused, or would be caused if it were legalised, by cannabis than alcohol? I’d find it this hard argument to swallow.
There is a reason people get hangovers; your body is recovering from being poisoned. Other drugs can have similar come down affects, but we know that alcohol is horrific for our bodies, and that it does long-term damage. And we don’t seem to be making smart choices about using it. I am as guilty as anyone else. I drink to excess, and find it hard to break the habits that I formed as a young scarfie, regularly on the piss with my hard-won Studylink coin.
The point isn’t to ban alcohol, or to support changing the drinking age – I think that is a lazy and ultimately unsuccessful solution to change our drinking problem. We need to think about why we are getting into the habit of drinking so much – far more than we need in order to have a good time – and what we can do to change this.
Another drug that New Zealand is struggling to decide how to deal with is nicotine. This week Sasha Borissenko has written a piece on the maltreatment of smokers in society, and how NZ is attempting to deal with the social harm of smoking. And a mystery contributor has put together a pros and cons list of why drugs are, or aren’t cool.
And if you’re up for a laugh at my expense – and who wouldn’t be – flick to page 26.
– Joe Stockman