Rule Five Addictions Friday

Ever wondered what the five most addictive substances in the world are?  Wonder no more.  They are:

  1. Heroin
  2. Alcohol
  3. Cocaine
  4. Barbiturates
  5. Nicotine

Note that two of these substances are perfectly legal (at least for those of age) and two others have several and varied legitimate medical uses.  In fact, even heroin is just a member of the same general class of substances as morphine, still widely used for pain control.

Here’s an interesting comment on the Demon Rum:

Although legal in the US and UK, alcohol was rated as the second most addictive substance by Nutt et al.’s experts (scoring 2.2 out of a maximum of 3). Alcohol has many effects on the brain, but in laboratory experiments on animals it increased dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system by 40-360% – and the more the animals drank the more dopamine levels increased.

So, beer goggles really are a thing!

Granted, alcohol can be a serious issue for the addicted.  My best friend since childhood struggled with alcoholism for a long time, and has been sober now for over 20 years; but I remember how it was, watching him in a downhill spiral that he only barely scratched his way out of.  Nowadays I really enjoy a good craft beer or two with dinner, but any time I have the urge to tie one on I think of him and 2016_03_11_Rule Five Friday (3)his struggle, and it gives me pause.

Also, this on nicotine:

Nicotine is the main addictive ingredient of tobacco. When somebody smokes a cigarette, nicotine is rapidly absorbed by the lungs and delivered to the brain. While Nutt et al’s expert panels rated nicotine (tobacco) as only the 12th most addictive substance, there are reasons to believe that nicotine is a very powerful addictive drug.

More than two-thirds of Americans who tried smoking reported becoming dependent during their life. In 2002 the WHO estimated there were more than 1 billion smokers and it has been estimated that tobacco will kill more than 8m people annually by 2030. Laboratory animals have the good sense not to smoke. However, rats will press a button to receive

nicotine directly into their bloodstream – and this causes dopamine levels in the brain’s reward system to rise by about 25-40%.

Probably true; I haven’t touched a cigarette since about 1981, but I do smoke the odd cigar and even though cigar smoke is not inhaled there is still that little bit of a nicotine rush.

And, yes, I’m aware of the health risks of smoking.

Here’s the bottom line, True Believers:  Alcohol and tobacco are legal.  They should remain legal.  Adults are competent to judge the

risks and benefits of the use of both of these substances, and should also be willing to accept any consequences of doing so.  And, in my estimation, the same should apply to the other substances mentioned.  The billions of Imperial dollars sent into our overly-intrusive, wasteful, liberty-destroying War on Drugs could be better spent on treatment for the smaller number of individuals with severe addiction problems.  Add to that the benefit of removing the profit motive for millions of criminal gang members now engaged in the drug trade.

We should be free to make these decisions – and pay the consequences of so doing – for ourselves.  Anything else in inconceivable in a free society.