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Drugs And Communication Psych. Essay, Research Paper
The negative connotations that surround the issue of drug use have been perpetuated by the media and have created a very unhealthy societal fear of drugs. Improper drug use is dangerous, not the chemical compound itself. A major factor in one s drug experience is the users personality. A person with psychological problems who takes LSD will most likely have those problems magnified when under the influence of the drug. However, psychologically healthy people who are knowledgeable and prepared for the experience rarely report negative experiences when on the drug (Jenkins 168-170). The fact that each individual has a different personality makes it difficult to determine what constitutes safe drug usage. Some drugs that are currently illegal may offer benefits to many individuals, but their illegal classification makes it difficult for researchers to explore these possible benefits. The notion that all illegal drugs are unhealthy and offer no benefit to society is a very inaccurate impression. This sense of all-ness has prevented the healthy scientific experimentation and therapeutic use of one chemical that could help numerous people.
The chemical methylene-dioxy-methamphetamine (MDMA) was originally developed by the United States Army during the 1950 s to be used as a truth serum (Cloud and Ratnesar 4). When ingested, the chemical often creates a euphoric feeling that promotes openness and trust. Because of these attributes, it was picked up by the psychological treatment community to be used as a tool to help patients regress and analyze past experiences. People often block out painful and traumatic memories. Victims of sexual abuse or violent crime often exhibit this process, also known as repression. The artificial openness and trust that MDMA facilitates can create an environment in which the patient feels safe enough to remember these traumas. One therapist relates his treatment use by reporting, MDMA allows you to be totally in control, while getting a really good look at yourself it does away with the fear barrier, the fear people have of seeing what s going on inside them This process is very beneficial to people in therapy because the remembering and acknowledging of repressed memories is a very important step in psychological recovery. He also calls MDMA penicillin for the soul, a much more friendly term than designer drug (Jenkins 87).
The reputation of MDMA was damaged in the 1980 s, as it s clandestine recreational use escalated. It was labeled Ecstasy and became very popular due to the euphoric feeling it provided users. It promptly became very prevalent in the dance club and party scene. One attribute of MDMA is that it provides a sustained energy, which was quickly noticed by participants in all-night rave dance parties. One user describes the effects of recreational MDMA use. I gradually relaxed and knew I was a part of it all. There was no need to be self-conscious (the people at the party) were celebrating their freedom from the constraints and neuroses of society (Saunders Ch 2). Many users describe their experiences with vague and grandiose language because it is difficult to describe the experience in the world of words. This experience includes the reduction of narcissistic thoughts and behavior and promotes a feeling of empathy towards others. Due to these types of experiences, underground usage of MDMA continued to grow until its usage became so common that it garnered mass media attention.
Responding to this increased visibility, the Drug Enforcement Agency undertook an emergency reclassification of the drug, placing it in the prohibitive Schedule I, on par with heroin and thus in a more restrictive category than cocaine or morphine (Jenkins 88-89). This over-reaction halted therapeutic use and classified MDMA users as criminals. Unfortunately, today s political environment is such that it still allows for false labeling.
Another example of false labeling is that of the War on Drugs. When did the American legal system get the right to wage war on its citizens? It is important to remember that while drug users may be criminals, they are still citizens of this country. The message that these people are the enemy has been so strongly supported by the media that the public is beginning to identify with the aggressor that the military methods used in the war on drugs are justified.
This brutal description of law enforcement has permeated into the mainstream consciousness and has created a cultural goal of eliminating drug use. This is evident in the phrasing that the mass media uses to describe drug abuse. One example appeared in the book Designer-Drug Abuse, by Michele McCormick. He titles one section of his book The Chemical Bullet Strikes Again (25). This example does not accurately portray the drugs that he is describing. By labeling designer drugs as a chemical bullet, McCormick is using scare tactics to dissuade his readers and perpetuating the myth that any use of the drug will kill you. The military mind-set has become intertwined with a medical condition. This is a very dangerous attitude.
The execution of no-knock search warrants is supposed to give law enforcement officers the element of surprise when executing a search warrant. SWAT officers in paramilitary clothing and military grade weapons most often carry out these raids. The dress of the SWAT officers carries a very loaded nonverbal message. Their black clothing and drawn weapons are very intimidating and create a symbol reaction of fear and coercion. These paramilitary officers also have their faces covered in black balaclavas that prevent the identification of the individual officers. This is a very inhuman appearance, and sends the message that the officer is not to be taken lightly.
The labeling of anti-drug law enforcement as a War on Drugs has also legitimized the taking of prisoners. While it is my position that drug sellers should be incarcerated, I do not believe that drug users should receive the same type of penalties for violating drug consumption laws. The act of taking illegal drugs has been labeled as deviant behavior by most of society. Drug use can be more accurately described as self-medicating. This term is much more accurate and helps show the correct treatment of the users problem. Drug users have a medical problem that will not be cured with a legal solution. Drug users would be better served in medical facilities with doctors and counselors instead of in the prison system surrounded by violent and deviant criminals. The idea that drug users should be incarcerated in prison is an outdated notion. By failing to index as new information and evidence arises, the government is continuing to treat drug abuse as a criminal issue instead of a medical issue.
When Nancy Reagen applied Occam s Razor to the sentiments and desires of the anti-drug campaign, the Just Say No campaign was born. This simplified directive use of language was supposed to help school-age children resist drugs during the crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980 s, and soon broadened to become the slogan in the War on Drugs.
Ten years ago, the nation told its children to just say no to cocaine derivatives. It is ironic that the most commonly prescribed and ingested drug among school-age children is Ritilan, a drug that is very similar in chemical composition to cocaine. This drug is taken to combat the effects of Attention Deficit Disorder, also known as ADD. It distorts the reality that a child would experience and makes them more attentive. There are millions of children in the United States that have been diagnosed with this disorder in the past decade. Ritilan is supposed to allow a child to remain attentive and improve their learning abilities. This is an example of dating. What used to be called boredom or poor teaching is now labeled a psychological condition that can be remedied with drugs. Due to this reclassification of a common childhood personality trait, parents are now medicating their children instead of looking for ways to engage their interests.
It is a logical assumption that this generation of Ritilan users will grow up with a different attitude towards drug use. Through the process of maturation, these kids will develop new theories on the correct use and classification of drugs such as MDMA, which has fallen victim to the war on drugs. There is much research to be done with this drug, and it is possible that it will become a very important tool in psychological healing. MDMA has demonstrated the ability to allow people to see through their fears and anxieties in a therapeutic situation. This is very beneficial to people who may be unable to progress in their therapy. Hopefully, the attitudes and restrictions that surround MDMA will relax and allow more research to be performed.
Cloud, John, and Romesh Ratnesar. The Lure of Ecstasy. TIME Europe Online. July 17, 2000.
Jenkins, Philip. Synthetic Panics: The Symbolic Politics of Designer Drugs. New York: New York University Press, 1999.
McCormick, Michele. Designer Drug Abuse. New York: Impact Books, 1989.
Saunders, Nicholas. E for Ecstasy. London: Private Publishing, 1993.
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