Eric Harrington – Running is addictive, so we must make it illegal…

I see that Anderson Cooper will be doing a long segment on “Marijuana, the case for and against” and in the great tradition of showing two sides to everything (even when they have to fabricate one,) they will present a lady who used Marijuana for her Bi-Polar disorder, and claims that it “almost killed her”  I’m not surprised..

What doctor in his right mind would prescribe Marijuana for Bi-Polar Disorder?  ( i.e. manic depression)  None I suspect.  I haven’t seen the show yet, but I would guess the lady made this decision herself.   The problem is, treating ANY psychological disorder with Marijuana is going to be potentially risky.  Even pharmaceuticals have not had great success treating this complicated and often devastating disorder. They simply treat the symptoms by numbing out the emotions in both directions.. Not fun…

So this lady should have never used Marijuana or any non-prescribed psycho-active drug if she was Bi-Polar.  And CNN in their wisdom uses a mentally ill person to show that Marijuana can be addictive for some people? Yes, and Prozac shouldn’t be used to treat high blood pressure either.. This is very irresponsible if CNN is trying to honestly represent the issue.  But it really speaks to the question of what is addiction?

Addiction, simply put, is when a person has difficulty stopping something.  Anything.. They can have physical withdrawal symptoms, as in the case of heroin or coffee, or emotional withdrawal symptoms, as with Cocaine or Marijuana.  And addiction isn’t limited to drugs, that’s the really ridiculous aspect of drug prohibition.  People get addicted to lots of things; sex, gambling, even running.  (I am of the opinion that it is elevated endorphins that causes emotional addiction, but I will come back to that.)  Many will question the suggestion that running is addictive, and yet it fits both types off addition, physical and emotional. Once you get past the early difficulty, running provides a drug like high, because of the elevation of endorphines,  and that high is addictive.  Running is also physically addictive. If you stop, within days your body begins to ache, your energy drops, and you have a classic physical withdrawal. Your BODY craves the running just like your mind does.  It is a similar withdrawal to heroin, just not as severe.  I can hear the Ultra-marathoners cry out in unison, “BUT RUNNING IS GOOD FOR YOU, HEROIN IS NOT!”  And there is some truth there, but it is actually more complicated than that.

Running is good for most normal people. But it can be fatal for those with certain physical anomalies and genetic defects.  If your Cardio vascular system is not normal, intensive running can CAUSE a heart attack or an aneurism, and sometimes it can take quite a while to show and may give no warning. And excessive running on hard surfaces can damage joints and cause problems late in life.  But I am not suggesting anyone stop running just for the risk of an aneurism or a bad knee. It makes you feel good do it, for everything in life has tradeoffs.

Coffee is both physically and emotionally addictive.  If you doubt this, just have someone who drinks multiple cups a day stop cold turkey. They may experience a plethora of withdrawal symptoms from lethargy, to severe headaches.  And coffee is sold to TEENS legally!   Amphetimines and Cocain have no physical withdrawal symptoms, but both can be emotionally addicitive becasue they eleavate endorphine levels, and that may be where the root of addiciton lies.  Addicts have difficulty getting endorphine boosts naturally. But it is a proven fact –  some people become emotionally addicted and some do not, ever, even when given ample opportunity.

Another common argument against legalizing drugs is that not only are they addictive, but they also impair you, and that’s why they are illegal and coffee is not.. “We don’t want people driving HIGH!” And this again is true in a sense, and I would prefer that people not drive an automobile high on marijuana or alcohol or excessive coffee, or frankly anything.   But coffee DOES impair you. It has been clinically proven to the point that consumption of coffee can be cited in the case of a car accident. Excessive coffee definitely impairs you;  you get jittery, have a lack of focus, even anxiety, in the end, it’s just a matter of degrees between coffee and any illegal stimulant. And MILLIONS drive on it every day.  Every drug impairs you a little, with the possible exception of Cocaine.  It has been medically proven that real Cocaine (not the synthetic crap on the streets), in moderation, improves both physical AND mental performance. And in moderation, it is less physically toxic than even coffee, and it is NOT physically addictive like coffee. So why is Cocain illegal?

When you objectively analyze this issue, there really is no rational arguement that clearly supports the prohibition of cocain and marajuana while allowing coffee and alchohol to be legal.  But now let’s discuss the real downside to drug prohibition and why all drugs,  should be legalized under supervision.

Prohibition of anything people desire, creates a black market to supply it. It is one of the dark sides of capitalism, and has been proven time and again. The prohibition of cocaine and marijuana in the US has created a pervasive, mega-rich, extremely violent black market culture that literally threatens to take control of Mexico. Just as prohibited alcohol in the 20’s elevated the Mafia from petty street hoods to millionaire Las Vegas moguls, cocaine has created a very rich and powerful criminal element in this country and throughout South and Central America, and thousands are dying each year in the “War on Drugs”.  And not from addiction, but from bullets—caught in the crossfire of a war that can’t be won. Thousands more are poisoned by herbicides sprayed by, or on the behest of the United States. Millions more live in fear of the gangsters prowling the streets of the inner city brandishing all sorts of firearms—all bought and paid for with black market drug profits. Can anyone who actually considers this logically and unemotionally consider it a fair tradeoff –just to keep your kids from being exposed to illegal drugs?  I find it impossible, especially when in reality it only increases their exposure..

Extensive evidence suggests that prohibition actually increases drug abuse and the harm from it. It is easier to acquire drugs through the black market, drugs are of poor quality control and adulterated, there is no professional supervision, and the user is exposed to a criminal element in obtaining them.  But even if it is not supported by the evidence, it is at least arguable that addiction could increase somewhat with legalization.  But the impact legalization would have on the black market, and the gangs that operate it is beyond question. Take away the money, and the market dries up. Take away the buyer, and the powerful drug lords loose their power.. The local gangs lose their money and consequently their guns. The prisons lose ½ of their inmate population. And the state receives HUGE tax revenues for simply letting people be free to do what they want. You want that money to go to Columbia, or Washington?

The upside to ending drug prohibition is overwhelming. The only real downside is the unlikely possibility of a increase in drug abuse, addiction, and the costs of treatment. But in a prohibition free country addiction would be addressed with treatment only, and not vilification and incarceration. In the same way parents can open communication with their children by not vilifying unwanted activities like sex or drugs, addicts will also be pulled out of the shadows.

Unfortunately, the real driver in this issue is emotion and fear. People who have not used illegal drugs do not understand the problem, and they are made more fearful by the relatively rare cases of extreme addiction,and the self-righteous reformed addicts who are paraded by the media as examples of the dire risks of illegal drugs. In the words of Bill Hicks, “so you want to illegalize all these fun drugs just because YOU CAN”T HANDLE YOUR SHIT!”

People are only concerned with THEIR kid, and the fear that legalization will make THEIR kid an addict. The sad truth is the opposite, however. Illegal drugs are far easier for kids to obtain from the black market than their legal counterparts, as are guns and the violence that comes from the criminal black market that has crept into the neighborhoods and schools throughout the country.  Illegal drugs are just too profitable, and too difficult to police. The ONLY answer is supervised legalization. Allow them to be prescribed and supervised by a physician or psychologist, just like pharmaceuticals. Take away the stigma of simply wanting to take a drug to get high, for it’s really no different than the high received through running, or sex, or gambling.  Face people, humans like to get high on something… But only certain people become emotionally addicted, and they are the exception, not the rule.  And those unfortunate souls need treatment, not incarceration and villification.

Do it for the children…

~ by Eric Harrington on June 14, 2009.

5 Responses to “Eric Harrington – Running is addictive, so we must make it illegal…”

  1. I agree. The government is not our father. They have no business telling adults what to do.

    All valid laws have one thing in common; they protect the individual rights of the people. Any other laws are nothing but methods used by a big intrusive governemnt to take control, rule over us rather than serve us. We need less governemnt, not more.

    Support the only true law of the land; the Constitution.

  2. “Illegal drugs are far easier for kids to obtain from the black market than their legal counterparts…”

    Actually, that so called “black market” can be found at the local high school, Anywhere, USA.

    Just wait for the grungy looking kids without books coming to school late or leaving early. Whatever illegal drugs you want, they can get them for you, prescription drugs too.

    But in return, they may want you to buy them some booze!

  3. The so-called “Runner’s High” is a myth.

    In college I used to run a hundred miles a week and never experienced a “runner’s high”. In fact I often felt downright miserable, but did it because I did not get a driver’s license until I was 25 and running was cheaper than mass transit and faster than walking.

  4. Thats what I meant. Remember, they ultimately get them from someone that isn’t in high school…

  5. Might be true, but I have had several people tell me they experienced it, and I frankly feel it a little when I hit second wind… a kind of indefitigueable exhileration.. Don’t know if I would call it a high, but lots of people run HUNDREDS of miles a week, and they don’t just do it to get in that much better shape…
    But I’m sorry your experience was miserable…

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