How common is hard drug use, really?
May 24, 2013 3:20 PM   Subscribe

I was recently sitting down to tea with a friend of mine's (we're both in our early 20's), and the topic wandered over to hard drug use (e.g. stuff like cocaine and crystal meth, not marijuana or alcohol.) When comparing our perceptions of how common hard drug use was, we were completely surprised when our answers were polar opposites: I saw it as an extremely rare thing, but she said it was something virtually everyone did but no one talked about. What's the truth here? How prevalent is hard drug use anyway? And why do our experiences differ so much?

Rather than statistics on abuse, I'm more interested in statistics on how common hard drug use on a casual basis with people who are otherwise living relatively stable lives, as that's what our conversation focused more on.

If it helps in explaining why our perceptions differ so much, here's a little information on our respective backgrounds and the things that came up:
- We're both university students in our 20's
- We're both well connected with working professionals in our respective fields: I'm in academia largely in the biology/computer science sector, and she's in corporate marketing working for a company similar in size and scope as Proctor and Gamble
- One of the things that she brought up was that cocaine use in the corporate world was extremely common based on her experiences and subject to peer pressure like alcohol is.
- Her social circles have on average, fewer people with or working on university/college degrees - I would estimate at least 90% of the people I know have one or are working on one, while she estimated only 10% for herself.
- Her social circle probably skews a few years younger than mine's - that is, she tends to hang out with people more her age (18-24), while my social circle is at least a few years younger than me on average
- My social circles tend to be more diverse and include more marginalized communities as I hang out a lot with queers, feminists and Deaf people

I'm curious to know why we see things so differently, and what's the real truth behind it!
posted by Conspire to Society & Culture (43 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
The CDC publishes statistics monthly, and annually. Brief overview here

I believe they do an annual report with the breakdowns on various substances
posted by bobdow at 3:26 PM on May 24, 2013


I know about 150 people well enough to be reasonably confident about whether or not they're doing "hard" drugs; I'm only sure two of them done it (both talk about it quite openly, one as a "recovering addict" and one as a "cool older dude who has never stopped living in 1973") and I would be extremely surprised if any outside a group of four or five of specific people were actively doing it (and three of them constitute my entire set "let's go to raves and lose ourselves in the moment" acquaintances.)

I mostly know grad students, working professionals, and their children or parents. Only about 30% of them share my religious beliefs (which forbid alcohol, drug, etc., use.)

I'd bet twenty or so of them know a heck of a lot more active current drug users than I do, and I'm quite sure some of them know a vast quantity of older former users (the years before AIDS seem to be a huge dividing line on this stuff.) Oh - and if you count recreational illegal use of painkillers and stimulants, or broader recreational "stupidly dangerous consumption" by people who are living supposedly stable lives, I'm going to have to revise my estimates completely.
posted by SMPA at 3:30 PM on May 24, 2013


Oh, and my only friend who is openly proud of his use works in a very marketing/entertainment kind of atmosphere. When I worked in a corporate bank, no one was acting like everyone should use drugs (at least, not in front of us lower-level admin types, and they didn't exactly hide their alcohol and partying stuff.)
posted by SMPA at 3:33 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to think hard stuff like meth was used sparingly, but living in Oregon, where meth is kind of king, I realized it was ubiquitous when there was a serious car crash in a residential neighborhood near me. A guy went nuts and plowed into another car at an intersection while going 80-90mph, the cars careened through a few yards and hit and killed at least one pedestrian. In the end, the guy behind the wheel and a passenger were both high on meth, the person he rammed into in another car was recently in rehab for meth, and the pedestrian they hit was 2 years sober from meth. At least three people involved in the wreck were unrelated and had never met each other, but meth tied them all together in a way.

It's impossible to know the true answer to this question, but I tend to think it is bigger than most people realize.
posted by mathowie at 3:34 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


One of the things that she brought up was that cocaine use in the corporate world was extremely common based on her experiences and subject to peer pressure like alcohol is.

I've worked in a pretty wide swath of corporate environments, probably at least 5-6 F500-level companies and a lot of medium-size ones within the last decade or so, and at most of them I've gotten to know employees and gone out drinking and spent time with them socially. While I've heard a lot of joking about coke use, I've never actually seen it or been offered it.

That's different from saying that it doesn't go on, of course, but I wouldn't say it's in any way "very common" and especially not that it's subject to peer pressure like alcohol is.

There are a lot of places where you would be at a serious social disadvantage if you couldn't or didn't drink alcohol. But if people are doing coke, they're doing it on the sly and keeping their habits firmly to themselves and other users.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:39 PM on May 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


I used to work in banking in New York City, where there is a lot of bravado. People would brag, vaguely, about the "lines" they snorted; the reality is, working 100-hour weeks doesn't leave much room for partying. I'm sure some people did do it (there seems to be a close association between coke and finance--make of that what you will) but no one who does it at all regularly is going to stay employed for long on Wall St.
posted by dfriedman at 3:45 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


To your question about why your perceptions are so divergent, people generally assume that other people they like are like them. You don't do it and don't know specifically of people who do, therefor it's rare. Your friend may have used or at least knows of a few people who do, so it's common.

Figure 7.2 in the 2010 NSDUH study has drug use numbers.
1 Million Cocaine users in the past year
397,000 Hallucinogens
359,000 Heroin
357,000 Stimulants
posted by willnot at 3:51 PM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Cocaine use is everywhere in advertising. People don't even try to hide it. In fact, just before the GFC, when you went out to with colleagues to have drinks, instead of offering to buy you a drink, they'd offer you a line instead. I've also had it offered at business lunches and Christmas parties (though a while ago, right now now I'm a pregnant SAHM - people hesitate before they offer me coffee, much less anything harder! - but I can't imagine it's changed.)

This is in Sydney as well, where it's ridiculously expensive and apparently mostly very crap quality. I argued with my husband (totally conservative anti drugs banker) that it was all through his industry as well and he claimed it wasn't. I said the only reason he wasn't aware of it was because he came across as someone who was completely not interested and therefore anyone he knew who did it would keep it under wraps.

Sure enough, people are now relaxing enough around him to tell him about their big weekends out too. If you're in a white collar industry, particularly one that's creative like advertising or has money, like finance, I imagine there's quite a bit of it going around. Stupid habit. Expensive and overrated.
posted by Jubey at 3:52 PM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's not limited to "people living stable lives," but there's a fairly large, nationally-representative survey called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health that tracks rates of alcohol and illicit drug use among all people aged 12 and older. In the most recent survey, 22% of people said they had used illicit drugs in the past month, but the VAST majority of that was marijuana (18%) or prescription drugs like opiate painkillers (6.1%). The rates of people who used cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, or inhalants was pretty low--1% of the population or less.

If you dig into the data you'll see that there's quite a bit of variation in drug usage rates by state and by type of location (people living in large metropolises are more likely to report use than those in rural areas), but even given that I think it would be a stretch to believe that most people with stable lives are using hard drugs but not admitting it. I think your perception is probably much more in-line with reality than that of your friend.
posted by iminurmefi at 3:52 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had this conversation with my sister once about marijuana. I think it depends on your circle- stereotypes would concur that more marketers do it than biologists. Further speculation would be that people in marketing have more socialising/partying involved in their work lives and thus the environment is more conducive to this. I think if you're in a crew that does it you tend to think its very normal and not, if vice-versa.
Anecdata: when doing my arts degree in my 20s I think about 60-70% of my friends did coke. In my 30s as a teacher, I don't think anyone in my immediate circle would even consider it.
posted by jojobobo at 3:52 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I used to bar tend private parties for very wealthy people in New York. Mostly lawyers, bankers. While I wouldn't say coke was common, it wasn't exactly rare either. Plenty of very successful, professional people would do coke in a casual way at these weekend parties. Little bumps off keys and things. I saw a good deal of this and was often offered some. People definitely did lines in the bathrooms. Still, it wasn't like some 80s movie where there's a coke bar and everyone is just getting totally blown.

Coke use among service industry folks in NYC was...high. No pun intended. But seriously, there was kind of a ton of coke.

If I had to guess, I would say at least half of the people I know have at least tried coke at some point and a small percentage that still do some every now and again. I know a few people who have tried heroin. I know one person who used to do meth and you'd never, ever guess it.

All anecdotal.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:54 PM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Sorry, the chart I mentioned was for abuse. The table in 8.2 is the one you probably want. Looks like 11% of people age 18 to 24 have used coke at some point in their lifetimes and 4.7% in the past year.
posted by willnot at 4:05 PM on May 24, 2013


To me this question turns on what counts as "use".

I've never been surprised but once to find out someone was a regular user of hard drugs. And honestly, that was partly youthful naivete. I'd have suspected sooner now.

I have been surprised several times finding out someone had at least tried cocaine, crack, or meth. My notions about that have changed, and I wouldn't be shocked now to find out that [random person] in [random office environment] had snorted cocaine or smoked a rock at some point. Uncommon but not rare, and you can't tell by knowing the person casually.

I think the zone between totally straight and drug fiend is wider and has more traffic than most people realize. For example my former roommate usually just drank beer, but he was happy to snort a line of coke when his drug using friend came around.
posted by mattu at 4:11 PM on May 24, 2013


It is very easy to think that the particular culture of your immediate environment is "the norm". I have definitely been surrounded by communities at various times in New York or London where the norm included hard drug use. For medical reasons I've never done cocaine but I did think of myself as something of a goody-two-shoes for some years because of that, whereas in more recent years I've met people who have never even smoked pot and think of any drug use as a real offense and not just another form of entertainment. It does tend to be a group activity (unless it's a habit), so the social group sets a tone. And one guy can set a tone if the rest of the group doesn't have strong opinions...

Much like how much is normal to drink - some people think a pint with lunch, a few after work, a nightcap, all fit into a regular day. Others will say you're an alcoholic if you drink every day. Peers question or enforce each other's behavior - correct or get corrected, bow to peer pressure, or move on - and you end up with different neighborhoods of behavior...
posted by mdn at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Her assertions simply don't pass the smell test. If she was right, that cocaine use was so prevalent, then you'd naturally see a higher occurrence of obvious addiction and abuse to go right along with the not-obvious abuse. Some people can maintain outward appearances, sure, but we didn't ALL magically gain this capability. If usage were high (ha ha) then the obvious losers would be, you know, obvious.

Since you're not seeing the one aspect, then you have anecdotal evidence that the other doesn't exist.

It's like UFO sightings. If there were really that many real sightings, shouldn't there be *some* real evidence?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:23 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is probably abundantly clear from your general vibe that you're the type to consider hard drug use to be an "extremely rare thing". Which is why nobody will ever volunteer to you that they casually use hard drugs.

Just as a data point, I went to one of the most elite, academically rigorous universities in the world, and among classmates who "went out" with any frequency, I would say that by senior year at least one-third of them were occasional or regular users of cocaine, molly, or LSD. That includes a hell of a lot of academics, feminists, queer people, etc.
posted by acidic at 4:32 PM on May 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


I would have to agree with the "it depends on your social and family circle" answer. Rich kids partying at college? Numbers are going to be higher. Poor people in the Midwest? Meth is king. Etc.

The CDC numbers seem about right to me.
posted by gjc at 4:36 PM on May 24, 2013


I think it is not, as you put it, extremely rare. I've had several friends who have mentioned having done and/or being interested in opiates. I am the most sober person in most party settings, so they don't offer to me, but it's easy to hide. At some point I began filling in the blanks. E.g., oh, on that night when Jack was too drunk to stand, maybe he had help from a little something extra. So yes, I think especially for people in the under-25 demographic, "hard" drug use is (alarmingly?) quite common, especially among those who come from well-off families who can afford pricey drugs like coke. I think half my high school class ended up addicted to something.
posted by deathpanels at 4:47 PM on May 24, 2013


Drug use, and openness about drug use, are two different things. So one question is how prevalent is illicit drug use among people you know, and the other is the extent to which you are aware of that drug use. Both of those are, in my experience, highly determined by the culture of your particular group or setting. I would say that it is highly likely that there's more illicit substance use than you're aware of, because many, if not all, people have reasons to keep it that information to a limited set of other people.

Also, the vast majority of people who ever try a drug do not develop dependence or problematic use, but those who DO develop problems are more likely to become known in their social group as having used illicit drugs, so there's a bias to assume that only the people who have problems are the ones doing drugs (and people assume that a much higher proportion of people who try, say, cocaine, develop dependence, than really do).

Here's a whole bunch of stats about drug use.
posted by gingerbeer at 4:58 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


i think it rests in the middle and fluctuates based upon a lot of factors (and, like others have said, if we add pill popping the situation is much closer to your friend's perception). i hung out with a party crowd in my late teens/early 20s and i was the odd one out because i didn't crush and snort/smoke things. but, i also grew up devoutly religious and didn't see an adult consume a beer to my knowledge until i was about 11.
posted by nadawi at 4:58 PM on May 24, 2013


I'm curious to know why we see things so differently

This is sort of an odd question. The reason you and your friend see things differently is because you are different people with different life experiences. Are you truly that baffled by this basic fact of human existence? You yourself enumerated a clear and concise list of ways in which you and your friend differ!

Anyway. My social circle is wide and varied and I can count on one hand the number of people who do NOT have a drug history of some kind. On the other hand, I agree that her insistence that simply everyone in the corporate world is a cokehead sounds pretty ridiculous. It's not 1989.
posted by elizardbits at 5:06 PM on May 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't think I've ever met a chef who didn't do class A stimulants of one kind or another.
posted by pompomtom at 5:47 PM on May 24, 2013


(no, I lied, I can think of one)
posted by pompomtom at 5:48 PM on May 24, 2013


There's a difference between "has ever tried/went through a phase using" and "currently using."

I mean, the current president admitted to having used cocaine, and the previous president was widely thought to have used cocaine in his past.

But middle class professionals being regular users of hard drugs? That's not common at all.
posted by deanc at 5:50 PM on May 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


As everyone above me has said, if you're not used to it you won't see it.

It is probably abundantly clear from your general vibe that you're the type to consider hard drug use to be an "extremely rare thing". Which is why nobody will ever volunteer to you that they casually use hard drugs.


Yep. I have that vibe oozing out my ears, apparently, and in my early-mid 20s I probably would have thought the same as you. Even though I went to ASU, where two-thirds of the student population is probably either drunk or high on any given day, I didn't really hear about a lot of hard drug usage. When I did, I had this sort of cognitive dissonance about the person, like wait, aren't druggies supposed to be passed out on the sidewalk or something? Not TA-ing my senior seminars and debating Boudrillard... Cool Papa Bell's comment kind of reflects that mentality, as does a lot of the preventative narrative we've gotten from the media etcetera. And then I met my kids' dad, who is a computer programmer at a big national company and who has done pretty much every drug in the book (though not currently). He began pointing it out to me, and dude. My naive little brain was slightly blown.
posted by celtalitha at 5:52 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do not listen to anecdotal evidence.

For example, according to the reliable-looking stats linked upthread, about 0.5% of the US population currently uses cocaine. Those cocaine users undoubtedly cluster, so if you know (or are) one cocaine user, you'll probably know many more. If you don't hang around cocaine users, you won't be aware of its use.
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:19 PM on May 24, 2013 [5 favorites]


Like Stitcherbeast says, there's absolutely clustering and differences. For instance, if you compare US federal statistics with something like the self-reported national club drug use, eg, from MixMag, you'll see a really wide difference between cocaine users (34% in the last 12 months among self-reporting for club-goers reached by the global drug survey, versus something like a peak of 6% in the general population in the last year.)

The 'Monitoring the Future Report', which I didn't see linked above, and covers years 1974-2011 ages 19-50. It has really nice graphs, eg, Fig 4-7, "Cocaine: Lifetime, Annual, and 30-Day Prevalence among Respondents of Modal Ages 18 through 50 by Age Group, 2011", and FIGURE 5-9, Cocaine, Trends in Annual Prevalence among Respondents of Modal Ages 18 through 50, by Age Group." Some history of use within one's lifetime is relatively high for cocaine, based on high prevalence in the 1980s and early 90s, it seems.

The federal reports do briefly discuss other variables - eg, there's variation between geographic distribution of heroin and cocaine, as well as type of rural-town-city-large city living situations - but don't get into social networks, because that would be very hard to do on a large scale. Some sociologists have looked at networks of users in certain regions; I read a few papers re: NYC club users and studying patterns of use among social networks with regard to interventions. (You'd probably need institutional access for this, but, eg, Starks, T. J., Golub, S. A., Kelly, B. C., & Parsons, J. T. (2010). The problem of “just for fun”: Patterns of use situations among active club drug users. Addictive behaviors, 35(12), 1067-1073.)
posted by cobaltnine at 7:06 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


How do hallucinogens rank in your hard/not-hard scheme?
posted by invitapriore at 8:13 PM on May 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I think there are a lot of things at work here.

The War on Drugs has falsely informed generations of Americans that "if you do [INSERT DRUG] once, you're instantly hooked" which isn't true about any drug, even the biggies like crack and meth. Most people who do drugs rarely care enough to keep their own stash -- they'll only do them when someone else brings them to the party. The exception to this is weed, which is really unique among drugs (and I'm including alcohol here) in that you can do it every day and not have it affect your life very much. Also it's easy as hell to get and doesn't require much networking.

You'd really have no way of knowing if the person you're talking to does "hard" drugs unless you actually saw them doing the drugs, or else they admitted it to you. And why would they admit it to you unless they thought you did them yourself?

That is how hard drugs can be "prevalent as hell" and "unheard of" at the same time. Most of the people who do them don't do them that often, and probably wouldn't tell you about it even if they did.
posted by evil otto at 10:00 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having said that, I will add that the openness with which people talk about their drug use varies wildly by drug. I think of it as sort of a pyramid. At the bottom, you have things like alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, and prescription drugs, which people will be fairly open about even though they're just as dangerous (and sometimes more so) than "hard drugs". One level up the pyramid you have weed, which, depending on the social strata, people will be fairly open about, provided they're not around family or coworkers. The next tier up would be things like coke and MDMA, which people will generally only be open about among close friends or people in the same scene. When people talk about "casual hard drug use", I think this is the sort of thing they're talking about. (I guess hallucinogens and "designer drugs" would fit into this category, but those are a lot less common, especially after college) Finally, at the top, you have things like crack, heroin, and meth, which are pretty much verboten at the kinds of parties that straight, white, upper-middle-class people attend. I've known very few people who use these drugs casually -- all the users I've known have been pretty "dedicated". Again, though, this could have something to do with my aforementioned straight, white, upper-middle-class background. (I've heard, for example, that meth is big among gay men, so perhaps there's some casual use going on in that scene. Also, according to "Gang Leader For a Day", casual crack use was fairly common in the Chicago housing projects in the 90s)
posted by evil otto at 10:28 PM on May 24, 2013


Interestingly, both of your "hard drugs" are quite legal and used in medicine today.
posted by telstar at 11:38 PM on May 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


Drug use isn't really evenly and randomly distributed throughout the population. Populations tend to self sort between drug users and non-drug users. If you had asked me in my 20s, I'd have said that everyone I know uses drugs, but that would have said more about me than it did about the population as a whole. Now almost no one I know uses them, but again, that says more about my life now.

What i would say,though, is that there are a lot more drug users who don't have 'drug problems' than most people who never use drugs would suspect.
posted by empath at 3:03 AM on May 25, 2013 [4 favorites]


I work in advertising/media. I've seen drinking (duh) and some pot, but never anything beyond that. I hear stories from older director-level folks about working at big NY agencies in the 80's and how prevalent coke was, but in my 3.5 years so far in this decade I have not seen or heard of it.
posted by windbox at 5:24 AM on May 25, 2013


This PDF excerpt from a book called "Hidden Rules of Class at Work" includes the following, which I found amusing (in a "funny because it's true" way)

Could you survive in a corporate executive position?
[...]
11. Whether I “use” or not, I know how to discreetly purchase
cocaine and other designer drugs.

posted by kmennie at 7:03 AM on May 25, 2013


The thing is, drug use is secret. Until you're using drugs yourself, you're never going to know the extent of it. It is massively widespread. And today, pills are the real problem. They are just ubiquitous, and many people don't realize how terrible and addictive opiate pills really are, they are one step from heroin and just as addictive. I'd say 70% of the kids I grew up with (in their 20's now) use pills. And basically everyone has tried them.

Drug use skews to a younger age group, but it is much more common than you think, especially taking into consideration what one believes are "hard" drugs.
posted by catatethebird at 11:19 AM on May 25, 2013


For background, I grew up in a white middle class neighborhood, and about half on the kids I reference went to college. I've also encountered many secret addictions among older people I know, once again beginning with opiate pills.
posted by catatethebird at 11:21 AM on May 25, 2013


Your question's wording makes me think you're talking about present use, and by present use, I would think that means some sort of regular use, even if it's just occasionally.

Do you consider past use to be "using hard drugs"? For example, if someone had tried cocaine, or if someone had used it for a spell but that was years ago, are they a cocaine user? For obvious reasons, many more people will have used cocaine in the past than will be using it with any regularity in the present.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:03 PM on May 25, 2013


My personal background lead me, mainly in childhood and adolescence, to believe that "hard drug" usage was universally very high. Both my parents were "hard drug" users. Several of my aunts and uncles on each side were as well. My parents, to keep me on the straight and narrow, also used to take me with them to NA and AA meetings. Many of the people there had tried just about every drug imaginable.

On the other hand, my husband didn't know any drug users as a child, hard or otherwise.

Anyway, because about eighty percent of the adults I'd met had been drug users, I sort of accepted it as normal until five or ten years ago. It sort of depends on where you look, and if you know what you're looking for. I feel like I can always spot a user. It does sound like you may not be as familiar with drug behavior, and that it could make you less aware of it going on. Maybe your friend, like me, has a bias that makes her see it as more commonplace.
posted by nohaybanda at 1:38 PM on May 25, 2013


In the USA at least 1% of adults and teens use MDMA in any given year, and this has been on the increase. In my experience these things are very clustered and self-selecting. As others have mentioned, if you use it yourself you are likely to know many more people who do, too, if for no other reason than because you go to the same kinds of parties where its use is accepted and open.

Apparently in Australia it's closer to 5%, but almost half of the people self-reporting MDMA usage have actually been given fake pills!
posted by 1adam12 at 2:51 PM on May 25, 2013


The use of the word 'hard' automatically throws the discussion into opinion. What is 'hard'? Why? Most of you here seem to accept the idea that coke is 'hard'. Some of you call LSD a hard drug. I wouldn't class either of those that way. Well, maybe LSD, except it's not addicting, so no, not really.

Opiates, I'm happy calling them hard. But, bias! I don't use them. I've tried some forms, and get nothing from it. No reason to play with that particular loaded gun. Back in the 70's, I knew plenty of people who'd try just about anything that came along. I knew even more who would happily never touch anything but weed, if it would only stay in good supply.

Some people wouldn't call mushrooms 'hard', simply because they are 'natural'. Others would say they are hard because they can have a strong effect. Which is it? If LSD is hard, so are 'shrooms. How about peyote?

For some people, if it isn't injected, it isn't 'hard'. Seems a silly definition, considering how much a nightmare pills can become. But then, the extra risks of needles, what with AID, not too unreasonable, either. For so many folks, the needle was the limit of drug experimentation. Needles were a no-go, even zero-tolerance at a social level. I've known exactly 1 needle user, very briefly, back in the 70's. Anything else, hey! Let's find out!

So, really, what makes a drug 'hard'? How about reasonably safe prescription drugs, except maybe the chance of addiction? Back in the day, Qualudes were quite popular. (probably because they were heaven, in tablet form). I'd only ever had them exactly once, in an extremely unlikely situation. Very extreme addiction problem, especially since the only 'hangover' effect they produce is one of feeling fit and capable. Back in those times, I never even heard of addiction to them, until the day I saw a doctor collapse and go into seizures, from withdraw.

You call meth hard? This puzzles me. Meth is one of the more useful drugs. What's hard about it? I've been living outside the USA for 15 years, and don't really comprehend the idea of a "meth problem". It's speed. Speed is a drug that works. It's only 'hard' for people that get addicted, from using too much, to often. What about the folks that use small amounts, every day? It is, after all, a legit drug.

Drugs are such a difficult topic. The entire world is hip-deep in bullshit about drugs, good and bad! But we all know, most of the bullshit is from the propaganda machine of the War on (some) Drugs, where perfectly useful, low-risk molecules are defamed and dragged through the mud, while the real killers (nicotine) are largely given a pass.
posted by Goofyy at 10:58 PM on May 25, 2013


You call meth hard? This puzzles me. Meth is one of the more useful drugs. What's hard about it? I've been living outside the USA for 15 years, and don't really comprehend the idea of a "meth problem". It's speed. Speed is a drug that works. It's only 'hard' for people that get addicted, from using too much, to often. What about the folks that use small amounts, every day? It is, after all, a legit drug.

You might be confusing it with amphetamines in general, but it's worth noting that the addition of a methyl group that characterizes methamphetamine makes it significantly more potent and addictive, and significantly less useful. It's sold under the name Desoxyn, but it's really not frequently prescribed at all.
posted by invitapriore at 10:14 AM on May 27, 2013


I grew up in a fairly dull, poor town and weed use was really common, especially the lower down your income went; in the 80s, glue sniffing was even more common. As a student - a time when many experiment with drugs, and living in what's thought of as one of the traditionally druggiest cities in the UK (before the smoking ban it wasn't uncommon to get on the top deck of a bus and smell weed)- I knew one person who very occasionally did cocaine but pretty much nobody was smoking weed. (However, I hung around with theatre nerds a lot.)

I work in a non-glamorous section of the advertising industry and I've never been offered a bump at a party. Maybe I'm hanging out in the wrong toilets. However, I have heard people talk pretty openly about use of drugs and I don't get the impression that it is a matter for shame or secrecy amongst peers.
posted by mippy at 10:18 AM on May 30, 2013


Similar to what some folks above have said about someone sharing their drug use only with people who are used to it and hiding it otherwise, I also know that there are certain signs that someone who has done or been around drugs will see that others won't see or will attribute to something else.

For example, people that haven't been around heroin or oxy users might mistake the tell-tale optiate nod as someone in the process of just passing out drunk or mistake the rapid mouth movements of a cocaine user as just a twitch (it's not all just about rubbing your nose). Not everyone looks strung-out or hopped up dialated when on drugs.
posted by Pax at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2013


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