Does giving drug advice encourage use?

Photo of MDMA (Ecstasy) pills via the Drug Enforcement Agency

Since March “at least seven young people” at large dance festivals in the U.S. have died “of symptoms consistent with Ecstasy overdoses,” reports the New York Times. Promoters of TommorrowWorld, a three day dance music festival outside of Atlanta say the deaths could be avoided by better drug education. “A nonprofit drug education group will be giving advice,” at this weekend’s festival “not only on the dangers of drug abuse, but also on how those who choose to take party drugs can use them more safely.”

Vivian Schipper, a spokeswoman for Unity who oversees an affiliated drug-testing program, said the organization’s volunteers walk a fine line. They advise people up front that there is no safe dosage of Ecstasy, but then add that there is a rule of thumb for avoiding an overdose: you should not take more than 1.5 milligrams of MDMA for each kilogram of body weight. (That means that a 180-pound man should take no more than 123 milligrams in a day.)

Ms. Schipper said the counselors generally do not dwell on the gory details of an MDMA overdose: extremely high body temperatures that lead to organ failure and bleeding from the nose and mouth. “We don’t want to scare them without any reason,” she said. “If you want to have this generation get through without too much damage, it is better to give balanced information.”

Today’s Question: Does giving drug advice encourage use?

  • Sue de Nim

    Maybe. But exaggerating the dangers also does more harm than good, because it teaches kids not to trust warnings. We’ve tried telling generations of young people that cannabis is highly dangerous, and when they find out it’s not, they’re less inhibited about trying drugs that really are– heroin, meth, PCP, etc.

  • Jim G

    Raise your hand if in your younger days you abused a controlled substance. Didn’t we all experiment to some extent? No one wants experimentation to end in an early death. So collectively, we should at least try to protect our young people with drug information; their dangers, effects, and lethal dosages . Providing that Information on drugs and their dangers is what a pharmacist does every time a prescription is renewed. Saving young lives with immature brains unable to correctly assess risky behavior is the important part of this non-profit group’s work.

  • PaulJ

    Good advice is good. Caffeine’s, for example bright eyes, use can be best managed when its pros/cons and procedures are known.

  • david

    The three other comments have nailed it on the head. My own experience was finding out the 80+ years of corporate sponsored lies in the name of prohibition left me with a distrust of all the alleged facts. That did cause me to take risks and push things further then someone with actual facts probably would have.

    • Fred Garvin

      Could you please elaborate on what the heck you’re talking about?

      • david

        Nope

        • Fred Garvin

          Didn’t think that you could.

          • david

            Ok

  • Rich in Duluth

    Yes, it might encourage some to try drugs, but informed decisions are best.

    I was a young adult in the 60s. The lies the “establishment” spread about marijuana use, among other things, and the reality I saw for myself made me distrust authority. Young people will experiment with drugs. Honest information encourages safer usage of drugs.

    It sounds like this DanceSafe group is doing a good thing.

  • JQP

    well the whole “lets let the dealer tell you what’s good for you” certainly isn’t working out.

    Of course its good to have them out there providing accurate basic information. Information of this type to concert-goers isn’t steering them on a completely different path … if there already thinking of doing or not doing the drug … this process opens them up to the idea that it is a topic you can talk about without having some court action and a lifetime record for being curious.

  • Ralfy

    Does honest, accurate information about tobacco encourage using? Does honest, accurate information about driving a car encourage speeding? Does honest, accurate information about war encourage … Honest, accurate information allows an opportunity for a reasoned decision, and a reduction in regrettable impulsive actions or misinformed choices.

  • Max

    Unfortunately, there is a portion of our society that believes that any attempt to address an issue with education is the same a condoning the behavior. Even if this was true, I would rather have more people experiment with drugs than more die from overdose.