home Opinion Failures of the State & Drug Culture in Ireland

Failures of the State & Drug Culture in Ireland

Molly’s at every party these days; the one that makes those around feel in tune with their surroundings rejoicing in this untouchable euphoric state. The one to rely on for those 6am tracks that haze around while others divulge in temporary love & affection for those around them. Sometimes you forget you don’t even know Molly that well. She’s always there at some point throughout the night, sometimes it’s her friends, but you don’t really mind because they seem pretty alright too. You’re an adult though, perfectly capable of making responsible decisions, and if you want to play the game with her then no one can really stop you. Molly’s not an actual person though, as you probably guessed, it’s an extremely popular prohibited drug known to many as MDMA, Ecstasy, Mandy, XTC or, more commonly used amongst the Irish population, “yokes.”

It is no genuine secret that MDMA is extremely popular, especially among the student population; however, the markets response to this is not favourable to its customers. Pure MDMA is both a risk and an expense to make, and the reality is that this runs a favourable risk that the majority of what’s being sold as MDMA are cheap & unregulated synthetic substances instead.

This is where we need to realize that the generic “drugs are bad” education is failing us. This is where we need to educate ourselves and realize that if we don’t act now tragic unnecessary deaths will continue to occur. This is where the introduction of regulation, rather than the constant prohibition we see in society, works towards both eliminating the illicit market that harms its consumers and producing safe, high-quality drugs such as MDMA in a strictly regulated environment.

Adulterated MDMA pills kill, be it friend or stranger; they are substances that are neither tested for dosage or potency, but are as commonly picked up as a box of Paracetamol. An example of these is PMMA. PMMA, commonly passed off as MDMA, is a slower acting drug which leads to users increasing dosage thinking they have purchased a weak MDMA pill. This inevitably can lead to a toxic dosage. If you combine this with the fact that MDMA testing kits are very unlikely to be found in a household, then you’ve got a pretty horrible recipe for disaster. Users are unaware of what they are purchasing and this is inherently damaging as these products are taken & can have extreme results, many leading to death.

The stigma attached to drug usage in society prevents open and honest drug education. Those who set out to learn are blocked at all levels of access and are forced to resort to using websites such as pillreports.net. This leaves the user with no choice but to research collective information from other users and go out on a whim. Those who do seek knowledge are responded to with a large list of harms and side effects in an attempt to deter, and are constantly looked down upon for turning to drug usage in the first place. This is where education is crucial to reducing harm. Education is key to making informed choices. Individuals who are presented with information on both the good and bad are surely more likely to react positively than those who are constantly presented with the narrative that their actions are foolish & to be looked down upon. Attempts to shock or horrify, and other generic approaches, are inadequate & do not prevent individuals from dosing. These people have already decided to use for what ever reason.

There are many reasons responsible for why people chose to engage in drug related behavior. Some do so for recreational purposes, but there are also systemic issues at play that make individuals feel like they have to engage in this culture. For example, take those who depend on the welfare state. Due to a lower socio-economic background because they are constantly shut out of a meaningful way of life, and, unable to access any point for politic engagement, these people are often expected by society to fulfill the role that society has put them in the first place. The State does not attempt to engage with these people and does not respond to the duty owed to them. If an individual has spent their whole life in an area where the status-quo is to leave school at 16 & to engage in the drug culture as those before them have, then there is an inherent pressure for that individual to conform to that. There is an inherent pressure on these individuals to fulfill the duty that the State has placed on them and this is a problem. This is a problem because we continue to shut out these people and refuse them access to the education & support that could remove them from their situation.

The obsessive myopic focus on the stigma of taking drugs itself prevents constructive debate from occurring and prevents the individuals from accessing necessary information & facilities such as test kits, possible test centers etc. but also refuses the individual to escape from what society has essentially trapped them in. It is harmful to install a blanket solution that deems those who chose to use as criminals. They are not criminals, but just people unprotected by legislators & stuck in a society that binds them by stigma.

Emanuel Sferios, long-time harm reduction activist and drug educator said:

“We should be modeling responsible usage, like we do with alcohol. A culture that prioritizes safety and education over shame and scare tactics will create a healthier, more informed atmosphere that doesn’t induce the dangerous behavior it seeks to prevent.”

And quite frankly, I agree with him. It is time for a change.