Alcohol and other drugs are inevitably part of our lives in some way, sometimes whether we like it or not. Despite their ubiquity, when you scratch the surface there’s often a lot that people don’t know about how individual drugs work, why they’re illegal (or not) – and especially about how to stay safe if they choose to use a substance.
The Drug Policy Alliance is working to change that, so we produced a series of four short videos about MDMA, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.
Our current system of drug classification sets up a simplistic and inaccurate dichotomy:
Formal drug education often ignores the history of how and why a drug was discovered and who used it before (and after) it was prohibited. We believe that people should be offered balanced information to make their own choices and ensure their own safety – whether they choose to remain abstinent or not.
DPA’s drug fact videos aim to present straightforward, factual information that give you greater context about each substance.
In the MDMA video, we break down the persistent – but wrong! – belief that “molly” or “ecstasy” is always MDMA. Because of prohibition, what’s sold as “molly” or “ecstasy” may or may not contain the drug MDMA. We remind viewers they ought to test their substances with drug checking kits to get a better idea of what they may have.
In the cocaine video, we highlight that coca leaves, from which cocaine is produced, have been used for thousands of years as a mild and nutritious stimulant, and that cocaine itself was marketed as a “wonder drug” placed in many products as recently as the early 1900s.
In the heroin video, we let people know that actually, most fatal overdoses involve heroin AND some other drug, pointing out the risks of mixing substances. We also remind people that overdoses can be reversed with naloxone – the sooner you can administer it, the better.
In the methamphetamine video, we show how similar this drug is to the prescription medicine Desoxyn, used to treat severe obesity, narcolepsy and ADHD. Pharmaceutical amphetamine is also available under a number of brand names, most notably Adderall. We point out that people who use this drug are often heavily stigmatized, which can make it harder for them to ask for harm reduction advice or treatment.
Getting basic information and harm reduction tips into two minutes is a big challenge! If you’re eager for more, we have more in-depth information about these and other substances on the Drug Facts section of DPA’s website.
Knowledge is power – on both a personal and political level. Please watch and share these and let us know what you think. Maybe we’ll make more…
Stefanie Jones is the director of audience development for the Drug Policy Alliance.