Sunday, 22 February, 2004

Well this post is a few days late.. but let's have a look at FUD with regard to Anti-Drugs Campaigns.

I dont condone the use of drugs but I dislike the pedaling of disinformation by the various campagins i've seen on the issue. The problem stems from the level of emotional charge people place on the drugs issue. I think you can get further to tackling drugs by bringing a cool head to the discussion!

FUD is everywhere with regard to drugs. Let's take the Leah Bett's Ecstasy death as a case in point.

The facts of the issue are this. Leah's death was caused the huge intake of water (3 litres in half an hour) her mother gave her because she thought water would reduce Extacy's effect. The water intake caused her brain to swell which killed her. The chemical compound itself had nothing to do with her death.

The knee jerk reaction was a poster campaign with the catch phrase "The next one could kill you". While it is true that MDMA (the active compound in Ecstacy) can cause death, it is very rare.

About 20 million pills a year are consumed in the UK. Around one death a year is caused by ecstacy and that is normally due to the tablet containing chemicals it shouldn't. Indeed, you are far more likely to be killed in a car then you are by consuming Ecstacy.

That poster campaign is FUD, plain and simple. I've never seen a poster campaign says "the next bus might kill you" yet the chances are roughly the same.

FUD has the "little boy who cried wolf" property. People might listen to your FUD today but the chances of them listening next year or the year after diminish. There is no better way to lose the interest of the very people you are trying to protect then by FUDing them to death.

That campaign helped no-one. Leah's parents didn't know what to do when Leah returned home high because of the government's inability to consider the drugs issue in a practical way.

If Leah's parents had known about the water-retention issues of Ecstacy then they wouldn't have given her 3 litres of water in half an hour. The government should be giving practical advice to parents and should be informing users of the consequence.

Maybe if the government had put up posters saying "Ecstacy causes erectile disfunction in 50% of men." or "Ecstacy leaves you with a feeling of detachment and has long term links to depression" then I suspect the campaign to have worked much better.


13:46:42 GMT | #Life | Permalink
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