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  1. 5-HT2A
    What if the media covered alcohol like it does other drugs? This was a question that came up in my coverage of flakka, a synthetic drug that made headlines after law enforcement blamed it for people running in the streets naked in delusional paranoia. What follows is a satirical attempt at capturing that same type of alarmist reporting, but for a substance that really causes widespread and severe problems.

    NEW ORLEANS — An ongoing drug epidemic has swept the US, killing hundreds and sickening thousands more on a daily basis.

    The widespread use of a substance called "alcohol" — also known as "booze" — has been linked to erratic and even dangerous behavior, ranging from college students running naked down public streets to brutal attacks and robberies.

    Federal officials suggest this drug has already been linked to 88,000 deaths each year across the country, including traffic accidents caused by drug-induced impairment, liver damage caused by excessive consumption, and violent behavior. Experts warn that it can also lead to nausea, vomiting, severe headaches, cognitive deficits among children and teens, and even fetal defects in pregnant women.

    Excessive consumption of alcohol "is a leading cause of preventable deaths in the US," Centers for Disease Control and Prevention principal deputy director Ileana Arias said in a statement. "We need to implement effective programs and policies to prevent binge drinking and the many health and social harms that are related to it, including deaths from alcohol poisoning."

    On the ground in America's alcohol epidemic capital


    Here in New Orleans, the horror of the drug was particularly prominent in the city's French Quarter, where hundreds of young adults could be seen roiling from the effects of the drug. Some collapsed on the ground, dazed from alcohol's effects. Others could be seen vomiting in public — a common result of drinking alcohol. Many could be seen limping and clumsily walking down the street, showcasing the type of impairment that public health officials warn can lead to accidents, especially when someone is behind the wheel of a car.

    What's worse, public use of this drug has become widely accepted in some circles. In New Orleans, several men and women in their 20s and 30s shouted that they're going to get "wasted" — a slang term for coming under the effects of alcohol. Some have even turned drinking alcohol into a game that involves ping pong balls and cups. One popular holiday, St. Patrick's Day, appears to celebrate the dangerous drug.

    In other places, there have been similar reports of individuals engaging in bizarre, inexplicable behavior while under the effects of alcohol. Some reports found intoxicated college students exposing themselves to others or running the streets naked while shouting hysterically, particularly during spring time. Others report people urinating in public streets after a few alcoholic beverages. And at least one man who consumed alcohol tried to ride a crocodile and was seriously injured when the animal fought back.

    "It actually starts to rewire the brain chemistry," one law enforcement official said. "They have no control over their thoughts. They can't control their actions. It's just a dangerous, dangerous drug."

    Across the US, public health officials have linked alcohol to much graver effects, including domestic abuse, sexual assault on college campuses, 40 percent of violent crimes in the US, and more than 4.6 million emergency room visits in 2010.

    According to federal data, alcohol is already the second deadliest drug in the country — topped only by another legal substance called "tobacco," which causes an astonishing 480,000 deaths each year by some estimates and 540,000 by others.

    No other drug comes close to the staggering fatalities of these two. Heroin, which has consumed widespread media attention in the past few years, was linked to fewer than 9,000 deaths in 2013, and marijuana — another drug that federal lawmakers, including President Obama, have warned is dangerous — reportedly caused zero overdose deaths in the past few thousand years.

    Public health experts demand action

    Despite the heightened public health crisis, federal and state officials seem reluctant to do anything about the drug, which remains legal for adults 21 and older to possess and even sell in most of the US. Policymakers say that banning alcohol is out of the question, citing its importance to the economy and American culture.

    Drug policy experts have suggested levying higher taxes on the drug or bringing its sales under state control, pointing to numerous studies that have shown these measures would reduce use. But lawmakers at the state and federal levels seem reluctant to take up even these milder measures, likely under the influence and lobbying of drug producers and dealers profiting from hundreds of billions in sales of alcohol each year.

    Perhaps as a result, alcohol producers have felt free to advertise their product during major televised events such as the Super Bowl, which is viewed by millions of children each year. The marketing ploys tend to portray alcohol as cool and fun, seldom mentioning the risks and thousands of deaths linked to the drug.

    As policymakers stand idly by, alcohol consumption has reached epidemic proportions. A recent Gallup survey found nearly two-thirds of Americans admitted to using alcohol — even as another survey by Gallup found more than one in three Americans blame alcohol for family problems.

    For many public health officials, the startling numbers pose the question: What will it take to wake up the public and officials to this widening epidemic?

    Original Source

    Written by: German Lopez, Jun 28, 2017, Imagine If The Media Covered Alcohol Like Other Drugs, Vox

Recent User Reviews

  1. Loveheartshapedrock
    5/5, 5 out of 5, reviewed Jul 5, 2017
    Great article. People think because Alcohol is legal it is better than other drugs.

    I have done IV heroin and Meth speed balls, lost people I love to heroin OD (caused by spike in purity due to unregulated supply). I've talked a number of people down from meth psychosis (also due to OD and lack of understanding of dosing) and totally asside from legality which greatly makes those substances more dangerous to users... Even with the advantage of legality I still think Alcohol is hands down the most harmful dangerous drug I've tried.

    Alcohol is legal because it was worse than all of the other drugs combined. Popular like pot, causing accidental OD like heroin, made people dangerous to others like meth and the fact prohibition never worked and instead made criminal networks, increased harm and created problems, all of this happened under alcohol prohibition at a rate no one could hide.

    Prohibition is the major factor in harm with other drugs. There is no science basis ro prohibition.

    MDMA for example is the superior and safer drug compared to alcohol in absoutely every real life trial I've witnessed.

    Alcohol is so badly regulated that its sold in shoping centres and petrol stations to any adult who wants it.

    I absolutely believe all popular drugs should legalised and regulated in a way that reduces harm and gives support to users while discouraging up take and encouraging responsible use. Thats why I like the idea of licencing similar to Australia's gun licencing.

    Hard drugs like alcohol should require higher level of licence including new users undertaking more intensive harm reduction/ responsible use training. Loss of licence for criminal/ irresponsible behaviour.

    They could offer support at point of sale and literally use tax raised from drugs to fund treatment for those with problems with drugs... and at the same time help pay for other things like healthcare and education for everyone.


  1. linc606
    The entire campaign against legitimate use of opioids is stunning. There are thousands of people in America today who no longer have the right to pain relief. I do not think the average American is aware of the witch hunt going on in the name of opioid addiction. Imagine taking away insulin from diabetics because someone found out how to get high from it? Yet chronic pain patients with debilitating pain are being denied their meds! Yet alcohol and nicotine
    " drugs" kill more people than opioids ever did! But because there is no " taxation/ profit " in opioids we, people suffering unending pain have no voice. Most people can't comprehend trying to live with tears constantly in their eyes, because they simply hurt so badly.
    The Drs in America are terrified to prescribe pain relief because America has been led to believe Drs, not cartels are the culprit. I can't imagine breaking a bone, getting pain pills, finishing my meds and then running to the corner, and buying heroin and sticking a needle in my arm. That's a very far jump. I imagine the bone healing, my meds running out and getting on with life! I imagine people getting high with their pals and trying the cheap easy high heroin... without any influence from a dr. Though. The whole situation is beyond ridiculous... we are going back into the dark ages with this "no opiods for anyone unless they're dying from cancer" mentality. What else can relieve excruciating never ending pain for us who are unfortunately suffering ? I personally would eat cat food if it indeed took pain away. For now though after 17 years of having some quality of life I now am back in my wheel chair, bed bound, because some non medical government officials have scared my Drs into no longer giving me my medicine which by the way I have never abused. 170 clean urine tests plus never being short one pill beared witness to my non abuse. Yet my life is over as I knew it due to other people's mistakes. And as we approach nearly one billion deaths attributable to alcohol and smoking, American government cares nothing about those victims. That is, as long as those drugs... makes it money. God bless the American dream. Biting down on a piece of wood, and taking a swig of alcohol as a limb is amputated is closer than you think. This is what happens when the governor thinks he's an M.D.. I know far too many horror stories of people I knew who chose to commit suicide then live with constant pain. Pain that stops you from eating, sleeping, reading, working, sex, smiling, and finally breathing. Who speaks for those victims? Where is the voice for those who UNDER-dosed? But media would have you ignore that, and yes, has no desire to give equal time to alcohol abuse... imagine if they did....
  2. aemetha
    While I agree to some extent @linc606 I think we need to be really careful about moving from one extreme position to another. There is evidence that over prescription of opioids is at least partly responsible for the epidemic. It could probably also be said that inadequate approaches to moving people off opioids when it was time to do so resulted in them turning to heroin in desperation. Society has lurched from the position that opioids are always addictive to everyone, to opioids are not addictive it's just some people are addicts, back to opioids are always addictive to everyone. Simplistic responses to a complex interaction of individual factors, environmental factors and the drugs themselves. The opioid epidemic and its response is fuelled more by politics than general concern for peoples well being. Politicians are elected to lead people, make decisions for people in their best interests, but instead what they do is follow whatever hysteria the public is currently experiencing rather than putting in place policies that might address the problems.
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