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Responsible drug use
The concept of responsible drug use is that a person can use recreational drugs with reduced or eliminated risk of negatively affecting other parts of one's life or other peoples lives. It has to be noted that, irrespective of how responsible consumers believe they are, the use of illegal drugs, as well as the illegal use of some legal drugs, has effects that could hardly be considered responsible. For example, illegal trade of cocaine has caused tens of thousands of violent deaths in South America, corruption of government officials in producing countries, and social consequences derived from addiction in consumer countries.
Additional recommended knowledge
Philosophy of Responsible Drug Use
The philosophy of responsible drug use—which applies to alcohol, tobacco, and medical products as much as to any other drugs—asserts that to use drugs responsibly one must adhere to the following principles:
Duncan and Gold (1982) suggested that responsible drug use involves responsibility in three areas: situational responsibilities, health responsibilities, and safety-related responsibilities. Among situational responsibilities they included concerns over the possible situations in which drugs might be used recreationally. This includes the avoidance of hazardous situations, not using when alone, nor using due to coercion or when the use of drugs itself is the sole reason for use. Health responsibilities include avoidance of excessive doses or hazardous combinations of drugs, awareness of possible health consequences of drug use, and not using a drug recreationally during periods of excessive stress. Safety-related responsibilities include using the smallest dose necessary to achieve the desired effects, using only in relaxed settings with supportive companions, avoiding the use of drugs by injection, and not using drugs while performing complex tasks or those where the drug might impair one's ability to function safely.
Responsible drug use is emphasized as a primary prevention technique in Harm reduction drug policies. Harm reduction policies were popularized in the late 1980s although they began in the 1970s counterculture where users were distributed cartoons explaining responsible drug use and consequences of irresponsible drug use.
Critics believe that recreational drug use is inherently irresponsible (in that they see drug use as potentially dangerous, or as a fruitless escape from reality, and that it is illegal in many societies) and that drugs can therefore never be used "responsibly". One reason for this is that the unpredictable, unregulated nature of many illicit drugs carries inherent risks that might not be avoidable, even with great care, although proponents of responsible drug use would reply that these problems can be solved by legalization and regulation. Some types of drugs are very addictive, and even moderate use may result in a strong physical need for an increased dosage, with possible concomitant physical and social problems. While some people may be able to use some drugs for many years without serious consequences, others may have an unexpected reaction to the drug, even on first use. A single use of some recreational drugs may cause death or some other negative reaction, including a loss of control that may result in harm to others. Many critics consider it unrealistic to think that very many people will adhere to the principles of responsible use.
The stigmatized concept of a "recreational drug" does not feature in some societies. Members of the Rastafari movement, for example, use cannabis in religious rituals and some have no concept of it as a "recreational", much less "party", drug. Finally, some stigmatized and illegal recreational drugs are, some would say, physiologically and psychologically safer than alcohol (although their long-term effects might not be as well-documented partly due to their legal status).
Purity and potency of many drugs is difficult to assess as they are illegal, this may affect the ability to use them safely. Some people, therefore, argue that decriminalization of drug production and distribution could alleviate some of the most significant dangers of illegal drug use. The illegality of drugs in itself may also cause social and economic consequences for those using them. The morality of buying certain illegal drugs is also questioned given that the trade in cocaine, for instance, has been estimated to cause 3,000 deaths a year in Colombia alone. Some advocates for responsible drug use claim that the US government's war on drugs is responsible for these deaths, noting that pushing these drugs onto the black market inflates their value and potentially puts thousands of lives in danger.
Harm reduction began as a philosophy in the 1980s aiming to minimize HIV transmission between intravenous drug users. It also focused on condom usage to prevent the transmission of HIV through sexual contact.
Harm reduction worked so effectively that researchers and community policy makers adapted the theory to other diseases to which drug users were susceptible, such as Hepatitis C.
Harm reduction seeks to minimize the harms that can occur through the use of various drugs, whether legal e.g. alcohol and nicotine, or illegal e.g. heroin and cocaine). For example, people who inject illicit drugs can minimize harm to both themselves and members of the community through proper injecting technique, using new needles and syringes each time, and through proper disposal of all injecting equipment.
Other harm reduction methods have been implemented with drugs such as crack cocaine. In some cities, peer health advocates (Weeks, 2006) have participated in passing out clean crack pipe mouthpiece tips to minimize the risk of Hepatitis A, B andC and HIV due to sharing pipes while lips and mouth contain open sores.
The responsible user therefore minimises the spread of blood-borne viruses such as hepatitis C and HIV in the wider community.
Safe Injection Sites (SiS)
Safe injection sites operate under the premise of harm reduction by providing the injection drug user with a clean space and clean materials such as needles, sterile water, alcohol swabs, and other items used for safe injection.
Vancouver, British Columbia opened a SiS called Insite in its poorest neighbourhood, the Downtown Eastside. Insite was opened in 2003 and has dramatically reduced many harms associated with injection drug use. In fact, the research arm of the site, run by The Centre of Excellence for HIV/AIDS has found the following results:
The Responsible Drug User's Oath
The Responsible Drug User's Oath (RDUO) is an oath which is intended for recreational drug users who wish to use drugs in a relatively responsible manner, as opposed to doing so in the stereotype of a "junkie".
The RDUO first appeared on the Everything2 website in 2001. It was passed around by email and in 2004 resurfaced in a Dextroverse forum post by the user Nitin, with minor topical improvements.
The RDUO provides guidelines for drug users who wish to pursue a more responsible and non-harmful (to themselves and others) drug-use lifestyle. The document suggests that drug use should be considered a legitimate personal choice, not a crime, personal failure, or societal illness.
Text of the oath
(As is common on Everything2, the text contains links to other parts of the website; they have not been included in this copy.)
As of January 2006, other users of Everything2 have added new points:
Duncan, D. F., and Gold, R. S. (1982). Chapter 18: Responsibilities of the recreational drug user. In: Drugs and the Whole Person. New York: Wiley. Available online at http://www.angelfire.com/realm2/duncanian_theory/ResponsibleDrugUse.html
Nicholson, T., & Duncan, D. (2002). Is recreational drug use normal? Journal of Substance Use, 7, 116-123. Available online at http://www.duncan-associates.com/Is-Recreational-Drug-Use-Normal.pdf
Vancouver Coastal Health (2007) http://www.vch.ca/sis/research.htm
Weeks, M. (2006). The risk avoidance partnership: training active drug users as peer health advocates. Journal of Drug Issues(36)3: 541-570.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Responsible_drug_use". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|