Friday, January 16, 2015

White Lies

Hi,

Another week rolls by eh? Well, a strangely short and long week for Muggins here. Short because I've just had one day at work. Long, because I was off sick with some cold virus that put me flat out. I must have been proper poorly, as I didn't open the shoe cupboard once. ;-)

What I'd hoped would be a two day cold, you know the sort: a drippy nose, a bout of sneezing and before you can say Hot Bath & Beechams, it's over and done with. Immune System, one. Virus, nil. But not this time! Oh no. Each day was a new variety as the virus decided to ditch the old and switch to something new! So, we had a day with blocked ears, then a cough, before moving on to chills and excessive sleeping. Hmm, actually, the latter might just be me :-)

Anyway, it's all over now, well, bar the 50 A Day voice rumble and all things considered, four days off from work was a long stretch for me. BTW, I read the other day that our American cousins don't all qualify for paid sick leave. This seems insane to me! Is this true?

Being housebound, I did catch up with reading, a film or two, but mostly, just resting and wondering when I'd feel well enough to go back to work. Oh, I start my new job next week. #HappyDance!

A War on Who Exactly...?

In other news, I caught Russell Brand's programme on BBC3 about drugs and the UK laws surrounding them. I find the social reasons of recreational drug use - and I'll include alcohol and smoking in this - on people, fascinating. Just this week, the radio (R4?) were reporting how the NHS were amending their few on what constitutes a drink problem. I think this was more than 3/4 of a bottle of wine for men, or 1/2 a bottle of win for women, is now classed as problematic.

On to other drugs and although I've never been an addict - thankfully (luckily?) - I have sympathy for those who fall into that trap. Perhaps I'm too much of a softly-softly liberal, to think that putting people away helps, rather than doing something to help them resist taking such substances? The reasons for drug use, and addiction, are varied and are no doubt better documented, than I'd do in a couple of paragraphs.

I haven't self medicated. No, not even with a credit card and a shoe catalogue. :-) In the darker days of my depression, I slept an awful lot. It seemed that some days, I just could not keep my eyes open and given five minutes, I would nod off. I know of some friends who suffered under the Black Cloud, as it were, who drank or smoked. I don't know if they took anything illegal or not. If they did, that's their business and I wouldn't judge them for it either. I might try and help them not take it, but that's another story.

So where am I going with this? Given the above 'dark times', I can see how you might want something to numb you. Indeed, an old college friend was a secret drinker. He would regularly put away a small bottle of vodka for his nerves. Ironically, when he was sober, he was charming, witty and good company. The drink may have numbed his fears, but he was an arse, when tanked.

Going back to the BBC3 programme, some of the findings from decriminalising some drugs (Portugal plus others), and not to mention various UK think tanks / science papers, they all seem to point rather strongly to relaxing our prohibition stance. Yet, our Government, and indeed the ones before the current, seem uninterested into doing so.

What are you views on this? Is it better to ban what's dangerous? Or better to legalise, regulate and ensure quality in what people are taking?

Take care,
Lynn

15 comments:

  1. Our cousins get a set number of sick leaves days which they can also book as holidays ......

    ReplyDelete
  2. sorry to hear about the cold, wondered where u were. Take care, sometimes it can come back for a second round, Ive got a couple of cases like this in the office at the moment. With sick leave here in Germany, we, the employer that is, pays up to 10 days then the state kicks in to cover the rest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Mostly over the cold now, thanks. It was a bit of a stinker - at least, compared to previous fly-by-night temporary infections.

      Delete
  3. Replies
    1. Pretty much over it now, thanks, Sue. Rather unusual to be laid low by a cold. Still a bit sniffy, but at least the headaches are on their way out.

      Delete
  4. Re illicit drug use, unfortunately our government seems hell-bent on maintaining a prohibitionist approach too, which annoys me as I find the whole War on Drugs very Big Brother (it's certainly not a war I signed up to fight!). One annoying consequence of that approach here is that if you want to buy Sudafed or any other decongestant (as you probably would, oh, if suffering from a cold!) nowadays, you have to have your personal details entered into some big Orwellian database. This is because some illicit drug manufacturers were extracting the pseudoephedrine from such medications, and using it to make meth (or ice, as it's more commonly known here). Obviously, then, the rest of us have to suffer so that Big Brother can keep us nice and safe, ensure we're protected from ourselves, and don't put anything non-approved into our bodies! Yeah, as you can probably tell, I don't have much time for prohibition...

    Funnily enough, despite having nothing against their use, I haven't indulged in many illegal substances myself - just the odd bit of weed over the years, really - though I know quite a few people who've been a lot more adventurous! For a period during the '90s, I was actually tempted to try heroin (mainly because I'd heard it wasn't quite as horribly addictive as it's popularly believed to be, and because it's actually quite safe to take if reasonably pure (though that's a very big if!)). More recently, I've been tempted to try meth, idiotically enough, my curiosity about it being piqued by the show, Breaking Bad (which, given that it did anything but glamourize meth use, just goes to show You Just Can't Tell Some People, I suppose!). I suppose one thing that makes me think twice about taking a lot of things is the fact that some of them have some nasty potential short and long-term effects eg memory loss, increased aggression, increased risk of stroke, possible neurotoxicity etc. Then again, all of the above have been linked to alcohol consumption too, and that's been no deterrent to me getting sloshed on a regular basis! (Luckily, people tell me I'm a happy drunk - indeed, one person I know said I become like a teenage girl when I'm pissed: all bubbly, and talking non-stop about all sorts of shit!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I saw the Sudafed link on Breaking Bad. Does that count? :-)

      Like you, I had the odd herbal ciggie at college, but that was it. This was during the turn of the 90s and Rave Culture was at it's height. I remember reading some leaflets about E and how laid back and 'low risk' the activity seemed. I'm not sure who produced them and I felt they [the leaflets] seemed as wrong as some of the anti-drug literature my son was given at school.

      I don't like scare tactics, because kids talk to other kids and as they get older, they will meet others who've taken drugs - regularly even- and the latter may well have been lucky enough not to have a bad trip / experience. If that's the case, where does your scare power go then?

      I heard from someone I knew, that his friend was a semi-regular user of heroin, and said chap shot up only once a week - usually the weekend - and held down a regular job in finance. Not that that story makes it true, however, I think it offers some food for thought and we're back to the fear factor again.

      Regardless of what a person is taking, I'm always reminded about the cost of the fun. You eat a lot of cake, you put weight on. You drink a load of beer, you get hungover. Too much pot can f--- up your lungs, etc.... and isn't this the mild end of the spectrum? :-)

      Delete
    2. What's the anti-drug literature they give out at schools these days like, if I can ask? I remember we had a bunch of anti-drug ads on TV here a few years back that were clearly meant to be scary, but were so over-the-top they were actually quite funny (the most ridiculous one showed a little kid saying he wanted to play rugby for Australia when he grew up or something, and then jumped forward a decade or so to show him being zipped up in a body bag because he'd ODed. Because, clearly, the only thing that ever stops people from fulfilling their childhood dreams are those damned DRUGS!). What were even worse were a series of follow-up ads which depicted such oh-so-realistic scenarios as a teenager watching the aforementioned ad in which the kid got put in a body bag, and saying to his parents, "Wow, drugs sure are scary! We'd better read that anti-drug booklet that Our Beloved Leader so thoughtfully sent out to every household in the country recently, and have a big family discussion about this important issue!"

      Re the responsible heroin user you heard of, I once heard of someone like that too. Same sort of thing: it was the friend of a friend who apparently only shot up once a week (in fact, I remember once reading that, when it comes to heroin, you have to take it every day for at least a few weeks before dependency sets in. Obviously, take this with an ocean full of salt!). I also knew a couple of people who tried it at least once (both said it made them very sleepy), and another guy who'd dabbled in it, and said that coming off it was no big deal - it was just like getting the flu! (When I mentioned that in an online discussion about the subject once, though, someone responded with a comment to the effect of, "Yeah, sure it's just like getting the flu: the nastiest, shittiest bout of flu you've ever suffered!")

      I know quite a few people who've dabbled in E's, and at least one who took ice. The last individual was a drummer in a band, and said he'd sometimes smoked meth before a show to give himself the requisite manic energy to perform. He also said that while he was on the stuff, he'd have a bunch of chewies in his mouth, to keep himself from grinding his teeth to dust! Talking of ice, I read a book last year about its use in Australia, which said that most people who take it do so responsibly. Of course, that sort of thing wouldn't make for a very interesting book, so the author spent most of his time detailing all the horror stories (eg the guy who went crazy on the stuff after smoking it non-stop for a week, then killed his mum and ate her! Well, not quite, but some of the stories were a bit disturbing!).

      Delete
    3. I don't have the folder to hand and the process - at least in our part of the UK, is called DARE:

      http://www.familyrapp.com/drugrapp/the-united-kingdom-dare-programme/

      Now, I can only go on the small amount of literature I saw and what my lad had to tell me. My problem with it, is when a tutor - and I don't mean a school teacher - says "so-and-so took blah and they died." Yes, there are some horror stories where a person takes something for the first time, and has a very bad reaction. There are also the media stories around regular users, who are used to a low grade of their drug - usually IV - and they get an uncut dose....

      The thing is, there are plenty of people who do take drugs and they don't die on the spot. I'm not saying you should take what you want and to Hell with the consequences. What I am saying, is if you put out the message that 'a dose of blah will kill you', and you know someone who has taken it and been okay, that to me, dilutes the power of the message. We've had the 'just say no' campaign in the 80s and... well, that worked really well in the 90s didn't it. Rave culture, heroin chic, pot, etc. If anything, it seemed to get worse :-)

      As to an ocean of salt, not with my blood pressure :-)

      So.... people are going to take them and when Jones Junior asked about them. I said that people took drugs because it either made them feel good, or in the case of very serious use, they used drugs to hide from their problems. We had a bit of a chat about it and he came out with the line about one dose could kill you. I said that's true, but it's rare. I said it was more like riding a bike down a street with your eyes closed. Most of the time you'll be okay and it may be thrilling, or you may be terrified. Equally, your first, or second ride and you don't see the truck coming until it's too late :-) I also tried to get into his mind, the idea that you don't get something for nothing. If you go out and run around all day, you get tired. You drink a lot of beer, have a few laughs and the next day you'll be hungover. Likewise, with some drugs, the payback for having either the energy (E?) or being out of it (downers), may mean you feel crap for sometime afterwards. Assuming you know what the quality of the stuff you're taking is. Short version: "Risk, yeah! Can you dig it?" :-)

      Perhaps this is all a bit odd considering I rarely drink and I've never had anything 'harder' (oo-er mrs) than a *ahem* herbal ciggie. So much for it being a gateway drug.

      I wonder what Wee Man's thoughts on drugs will be as he gets older? It's not something my folks talked to me about. Did yours?

      Delete
    4. Thanks for the response. I can't say my parents ever talked to me about drugs much, and, funnily enough, the subject didn't seem to come up much at any of the various schools I went to either (I certainly don't recall anyone from outside the school coming in to talk to us about it). I do remember at one school, we once had a class (in one of those Mickey Mouse subjects like health or social studies) in which we were divided up into a number of small groups, and given the task of going through a bunch of old magazines and cutting out any pictures we found in them relating to drugs. In retrospect, that was a bit of a daft assignment. After all, unless any of the magazines we were given had something like a special on drugs for parents who wanted to talk to their children about the topic, we were hardly going to find ads for weed, Es, coke or anything like that in them (though back then, we were as likely as not to find ads for things like beer and cigarettes)! At any rate, a couple of the people in my group chose to use the exercise as an excuse to tear out every ad for women's sanitary products they could find in the magazines in question, which they seemed to find the height of hilarity (as did I, I'd have to admit)! Yeah, I don't think anything constructive resulted from that particular lesson!

      Oddly enough, though, my schoolmates and I must've had some teachers trying to educate us about drugs because every time I sat down to watch some TV show and discovered that that day's episode was going to be one of those very special ones about drugs, my immediate reaction was to think, "Oh God, not this again!" (I found the whole subject a bit of a bore, actually), and go do something else!

      Delete
  5. As one of your American cousins, time off varies widely by employer & industry, and in most places there aren't any specific regulations yet. The average seems to be 3 weeks vacation & sick leave combined as a "Paid Time Off" pool. My own employer is quite generous in this regard, and I get 5 weeks PTO, though I rarely manage to use more than 3. My wife's last employee was miserly, and gave only 1 week PTO. That discrepancy made it awfully difficult to plan any actual time away. Hourly retail & service employees, and many other non-union hourly laborers often don't get any paid time off.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for that. That does sound a bit poor, but then we Brits get a holiday quota. Our sickness pool is outside of that and the State will pick up the tab (to a point). If you're off for too long, your wage can drop.

      Delete
  6. As long as you don't hurt anyone else, I don't much care what you do. It's more complicated than that, like most things, but in general that's what I believe.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They'd be no place for that open view in the Nanny State. Pubs closed at 11pm and don't take anything naughty if you're going clubbing :-)

      Lots of people do and I wonder if we, Brits, should be a bit more honest about what we do. I mean, some European countries sell drug testing kits. If a person is going to take something, is it a good thing that they know what they're taking?

      Delete