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Sounds like that someone made a bad decision for which they are suffering consequences.

But the addicted individual doesn't exist in a vacuum. There is a drug dealer who has knowingly made the person addicted and is profiting from it.

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But the addicted individual doesn't exist in a vacuum. There is a drug dealer who has knowingly made the person addicted and is profiting from it.

First of all, nobody "made" the person addicted. It was their choice to use whatever drug they use. They continue to make that choice every time they use that drug again. It could certainly be hard to break an addiction, but many cigarette smokers break their powerful physical and mental addiction every day. Your statement seems to have the flavor of the 1980's "drug pusher" you might see on the Cosby Show. Dealers don't go around pointing guns at heads saying take this or you'll die, nor do people take one drink or one line of coke and immediately become hopelessly addicted with their fate sealed. Drug dealers have plenty of business in the people that find them. Drug dealers profit from drug users and their addictions, of course they do. But to act like dealers have some sort of magical ability to addict people is reminiscent of illogical "Reefer Madness" campaigns of 50 years ago.

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Your statement seems to have the flavor of the 1980's "drug pusher" you might see on the Cosby Show. Dealers don't go around pointing guns at heads saying take this or you'll die, nor do people take one drink or one line of coke and immediately become hopelessly addicted with their fate sealed. Drug dealers have plenty of business in the people that find them. Drug dealers profit from drug users and their addictions, of course they do. But to act like dealers have some sort of magical ability to addict people is reminiscent of illogical "Reefer Madness" campaigns of 50 years ago.

I recognize that at some point an individual has to choose to take drugs, but if their value system is impaired to the point of altering their means of perceiving reality, then it's no longer an individual choice.

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I recognize that at some point an individual has to choose to take drugs, but if their value system is impaired to the point of altering their means of perceiving reality, then it's no longer an individual choice.

I think I understand better what you are saying. It seems to be headed toward a deterministic slippery slope. If someone's value system is initially impaired, then they cannot properly value having a better value system, which pretty much means they're doomed. If they cannot perceive reality properly while on a drug, they still chose to use the drug. I don't believe chronic drug use itself really takes away free will, though it certainly can be more difficult for an addicted person to make the right choices. The one case where it would not be a choice would be mental illness that exists even when sober.

There is a clear line between mental illness and temporary impairment due to drug use. A meth head can be mentally normal when sober, but can act insane on a meth binge. Since they chose to go as far as a binge they are accountable for their actions.

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It's probably true about the resveratrol in wine; it's the people who insist it's the alcohol in the wine (or just say "wine" and want you to conclude it's the alcohol) that provides the benefit, that I am complaining about.

They'd be a lot less enthusiastic about a non-intoxicating way of getting the resveratrol. It's just an excuse to get the alcohol.

Perhaps...but I'm just as excited about grape juice :P and I don't get intoxicated from the amount of wine I drink.

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It seems you could apply this argument to food as well.

"Why not try relaxing without ice cream?" Or "why not try eating dinner without dessert?"

My honest answer is this: if one wishes to occasionally enjoy some form a drug to relax, then why not? Now this assumes of course that the person has weighed the pros and cons, which includes the long term effects on both his/her physiological and psycological being.

This would mean the issue is still whether or not you can relax without the drugs. Personally, I find people who insist that "fun=drunkenness," and that they can't "cut loose" or have fun without being drunk to be morally repugnant in their regards to recreation, as well as mentally stiffled. However, if a person is capable of relaxing without the use of narcotics, then they shouldn't be condemed for indulging (safely) in their own selfish pleasure.

I think this is just rationalizing the use of drugs for relaxation. Your example uses the same purpose but different particulars (ice cream for relaxation?).

My honest answer is this: if one wishes to occasionally enjoy some form a drug to relax, then why not? Now this assumes of course that the person has weighed the pros and cons, which includes the long term effects on both his/her physiological and psycological being.

I eat dinner without desert all the time.

But, if one is weighing the pros and cons, it seems that the cons of doing opiates would usually outweigh the benefits for most people seeking a long-term healthy lifestyle. In fact, I can't think of a single reason, assuming that purpose, that one would seek to do opiates as a form of recreation. A big "con" being the immunosuppressive nature of those drugs.

The fact that opiates are pain killers could logically lead you to the idea that recreational use of them would constitute an abuse of the drug (by your defense of the recreational use of opium, do you also defend those who take drugs in a manner other than what they are designed for? If so, how can you defend the use of opium for recreational use, but not Morphine? or Heroin? Those are opiates also.). Aside from that, I still maintain that it is a form of escapism. You don't need painkillers to "relax", ever. If you are doing it "just for fun", I think that you're ignoring the cons in favor of the "feel good" effect of those drugs.

That "feel good" effect that comes without a cause. When you relax without those drugs, the process is much different than just injecting a needle in your arm or taking a few puffs.

Lastly, I can eat deserts - especially if they are sugar free or "no sugar added" (provided they taste alright) - and not risk pulmonary edema, respiratory failure, or cardiac problems. Can't say the same thing about opiates.

I think just those alone would keep me from ever taking up those drugs as a form of recreation.

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I'd like to point out that sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes, starches are hardly better, salt can cause kidney problems and hypertension, fats can cause obesity and arterial disease, mammal flesh can cause digestive problems, fish can contain heavy metals. Caffein is poison. And none of this is a problem if these foods are consumed appropriately. The same applies to alcohol. We really need to put to rest the notion that Objectivism is some kind of puritanical Zen macrobiotic straight-edge cult.

Eating a good steak is highly pleasurable, and is one of the many values that can be pursued as part of an integrated choice "I decide to live". It is part of what makes life self-validating. If you don't like steak then for crying in the beer, don't eat it. If you don't find a good glass of wine enjoyable, please do not drink it. If you find yourself with a bad wine, please please do not drink it.

The touted "relation value" of alcoholic beverages and foods comes from their sensory qualities (which really requires knowledge -- you need to know something about your food and drink to properly appreciate them). Conveniently, food also provides necessary nutrition. The virtues of wine do not reside in the ethanol -- ethanol does play an important role in the sensory qualities of the drink, but the mind-numbing effects of ethanol are not valid reasons to drink. They are part of the risk of drinking, and an intelligent person can learn to manage those risks.

The thing about drugs is that they only have mind-numbing effects (and very often have heart-stopping effects). If you think that cocaine or PCP are "pleasant diversion" drugs, I'd suggest talking with a physician to see whether it's such a good idea for you to take such risks. Even with a medically risk-free mind-numbing drug, you should question why you want your mind numbed. Mind-numbing is a good thing when you're having surgery, and that's about it as far as I can see.

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I recognize that at some point an individual has to choose to take drugs, but if their value system is impaired to the point of altering their means of perceiving reality, then it's no longer an individual choice.

Regulation, censorship, altruism, the nanny state, collectivization... all have their roots in the ill conceived notion that we should "fix" other peoples problems by eliminating the source of the problem. The problem is, when the "problem" is traced back past the compulsion (using drugs) to it's root, the real problem is freedom of choice, and the "solution" ends up being nothing less than the removal of everyone's rights.

It might be harsh, but every junkie has the right to be a junkie, not you or any other person has the right to force them either physically or through the compulsion of 'law' to be otherwise.

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I'd like to point out that sugar can lead to obesity and diabetes, starches are hardly better, salt can cause kidney problems and hypertension, fats can cause obesity and arterial disease, mammal flesh can cause digestive problems, fish can contain heavy metals. Caffein is poison. And none of this is a problem if these foods are consumed appropriately. The same applies to alcohol. We really need to put to rest the notion that Objectivism is some kind of puritanical Zen macrobiotic straight-edge cult.

I agree somewhat. All foods have tolerance levels. Even water can be dangerous. But I want to point out that none of this happens in a vacuum. I think an argument could be made that it is the combination of foods with lifestyle that will cause all of the things you mentioned.

For example, I think an argument can be made that fats can be good for you (even saturated fats help you metabolize certain vitamins that otherwise would simply pass through you), salt can help you retain water (which can be a good thing), animal flesh provides you with necessary zinc, protein and other nutrients...

...but combine fats and sugar, and you have a problem. Combine carbohydrates and lots of sodium and you have problems...etc.

Eating a good steak is highly pleasurable, and is one of the many values that can be pursued as part of an integrated choice "I decide to live". It is part of what makes life self-validating. If you don't like steak then for crying in the beer, don't eat it. If you don't find a good glass of wine enjoyable, please do not drink it. If you find yourself with a bad wine, please please do not drink it.

I think I know what you're getting at, but to me it sounds hedonistic. You could make a case for nearly anything that you like or don't like doing, couldn't you?

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I think I know what you're getting at, but to me it sounds hedonistic. You could make a case for nearly anything that you like or don't like doing, couldn't you?
Hedonism elevates sensory pleasure over everything else, including most prominently, your health. When sensory pleasure does not cause you harm, there is not only nothing wrong with it, it is a good thing.
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So Marijuana doesn't inhibit your rationality?

I've been a light marijuana user in the past and I can see that it has at least some utilitarian value. It allows you to have thoughts that you could never have while sober, and improves your literary ability somewhat. It allows you to hear music in ways that you normally couldn't. At the same time, I think it is fundamentally dangerous to mess with your mind or alter your perception of reality in any way. I haven't made up my mind on the subject yet, but it may be better to maintain a firm policy of not doing drugs of any kind. Although, I will say that whoever drinks alcohol in any form is no better than a marijuana user, because alcohol is by far the more evil of the two drugs.

Edited by cliveandrews
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Hedonism elevates sensory pleasure over everything else, including most prominently, your health. When sensory pleasure does not cause you harm, there is not only nothing wrong with it, it is a good thing.

I understand that as a starting point, however, at some point you need to be able to discover what is actually good for you and be able to determine benefit from harm. You can't simply base everything on whether it feels good and leave it at that. Otherwise, you have to be promoting recreational drug use. :D

Edited by prosperity
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You can't simply base everything on whether it feels good and leave it at that.
Right, so the first question has to be "does it do harm" (specifically, does it, not might it if improperly used). If so, stop and do not proceed. Otherwise, it is an optional value; you must determine if it creates a pleasurable sensory experience or an unpleasant one. Some people find IPA and red wine unpleasant, so they should abstain for that reason.
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I thought the only medical syndrome that has been attached definitively to pot is amotivational syndrome, and that is after long time continuous use. As a person who smoked quite a bit of weed when he was a young teen (from age 12 to 16) I can honestly say that I have never experienced depression or a "psychotic state similar to schizophrenia".

I've also been much more screwed up from binging on alcohol than from pot.

Wow, I sound like a poster boy for what not to do with your life :?

Oh well, I haven't had a toke since I was about 17 and in spite of how it sounds I do not have to attend AA meetings :o

Part of the problem with pot today is that hydroponically grown stuff that is so common today is about 10 times stronger than the best natural stuff of my day. So I guess I'm saying that my first hand data is about 25 years out of date.

It is strong, but as a young adult of this age who smoked high end marijuana daily (ages 12-16) with my family (we all quit at the same time, and I do not use it more than once or twice a year now), I can say that I don't think that it causes any real psychological or physical problems, outside of possibly making you a bit more physically lazy and a bit paranoid when you are actually high. I actually made better grades and was more involved in school when I smoked pot every day. I got a job shortly after quitting though, and that may have been what caused my grades to lower after stopping habitual marijuana use.

My point is that I never had a physical or mental want or need to go buy it (it was always provided for me when I smoked daily), nor did I or do I miss it very much. I think that a lot of mediocre and lazy people tend to fall into smoking it, and that gives the plant itself a horrible reputation. I believe it is like alcohol but less physically harmful... okay in appropriate moderation.

Edited by Alicia D Ridout
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  • 4 months later...
Perhaps we are focusing too much on the drug itself instead of the underlying reason for using the drug. Why do people use drugs?

...for example, the only reason I've ever heard someone give - in essential terms now - for using pot is that it makes them "feel good". They're after the high. They're after an emotional response. But that emotional response is not to any particular achievement. The value becomes - intrinsically - the drug. They are after the high for the high's sake.

Could you say that doing drugs promotes an intrinsic value system? This may not mean much to the non-Objectivist, but the implications would be clear to one familiar with Rand.

Of course, I've known a few pot smokers who were essentially looking for the effect (feeling good) without the cause (achievement). In my view, while perhaps not immoral, it is self-destructive.

I'd like to get some clarification on this...

I will admit firsthand that I used to smoke pot almost every day, and drank on weekends. I've done, in the past, magic mushrooms (3 times), LSD (3 times), cocaine (once), and MDMA (twice). I've ceased all drugs except the drinking, and pot smoking, which is down to once or twice a month... just to give some upfront bias if any may remain.

I think everyone here is in agreement that drugs should be legalized, but I wanted to find out if they are truly "moral" in the sense of the Objectivist code. It would seem to me that Ayn Rand would not find them moral because anything which alters the mind (that includes caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco) would be distorting the mind, and distorting the mind from being able to be rational and objective would ultimately be immoral. However, I read this quoted post above and it got me to thinking...

If people who smoke pot are indeed after the "high", I'd like to see how this justification differs from Ayn Rand's views on sex. It is clear from what I've read about Ayn Rand's views on sex that she believes sex is no more than the body's highest ability to deliver pleasure, and that it should be done only for yourself, and not for your partner. So, the basis of understanding this here is derived from her belief that sex should be conducted in order that you get pleasure from your body, and for no other reason. The underlying moral principle that is applied to Ayn Rand's view on sex, it would seem, could certainly be applied to smoking marijuana. Both pot and sex can be abused, but both also have the potential to bring an unprecedented level of pleasureful feelings - in different ways, of course. Could it be reasonable to use the same justification Ms. Rand gives for sex as a basis of understanding the morality of smoking weed, or doing certain other drugs?

By the way, I would run under the suspicion that it is immoral to be addicted to a drug, but that no drug in and of itself is immoral, the above being the case, until you're addicted to it. This would mean, however, that substances like cocaine, opium, and tobacco, have a much higher chance of being used immorally than weed or psychedelics. Just wanted to establish that final thought...

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If people who smoke pot are indeed after the "high", I'd like to see how this justification differs from Ayn Rand's views on sex. It is clear from what I've read about Ayn Rand's views on sex that she believes sex is no more than the body's highest ability to deliver pleasure, and that it should be done only for yourself, and not for your partner. So, the basis of understanding this here is derived from her belief that sex should be conducted in order that you get pleasure from your body, and for no other reason. The underlying moral principle that is applied to Ayn Rand's view on sex, it would seem, could certainly be applied to smoking marijuana. Both pot and sex can be abused, but both also have the potential to bring an unprecedented level of pleasureful feelings - in different ways, of course. Could it be reasonable to use the same justification Ms. Rand gives for sex as a basis of understanding the morality of smoking weed, or doing certain other drugs?

I'd suggest that sex isn't just about physical pleasure. There are deep emotional connections and a sort of "gift giving" involved in romantic sex. Otherwise masturbation would be as fulfilling which it is not. But it is a good comparison when it comes to abuse. A sex addict and a drug addict are both using those actions as a replacement for happiness and joy they don't have in other parts of their life. If sex or drugs can be used as a gift and not as a crutch, they can put the cherry on top and not be the dish.

By the way, I would run under the suspicion that it is immoral to be addicted to a drug, but that no drug in and of itself is immoral, the above being the case, until you're addicted to it. This would mean, however, that substances like cocaine, opium, and tobacco, have a much higher chance of being used immorally than weed or psychedelics. Just wanted to establish that final thought...

Weed can certainly be psychologically addictive and psychedelics (which I'm likely a rare proponent of on this board) can be used to escape reality so I'm not sure a solid addictiveness -> immortality connection can always be made. The context really matters with drug use and one really must look at how and why a drug is used before you can call that use moral or immoral.

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In my opinion, it is simply stupid to put something in your body that will cause harm, whether it be liver, lung, or brain damage. I would think that any risk of damaging vital organs vastly outweighs any benefits the drug may have. Alcohol appears to be fine in moderation. Although, since I am under 21, I haven't had much experience with alcohol and cannot say I know its full effects firsthand. I would assume hangovers are unpleasant.

Any thoughts or feelings that a person has on a mind-altering drug are not truly his thoughts or feelings. It distorts the mind. A person is just as able to realize and discover things while he is able to to hold a conversation and be a rational human being.

To those who have tried it, is alcohol an aquired taste? Every time I've tried it, it has left a nasty, burning taste in my mouth.

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To those who have tried it, is alcohol an aquired taste? Every time I've tried it, it has left a nasty, burning taste in my mouth.

'Alcohol' is a pretty broad category. For instance, 'coolers' tend to be very easy and tasty to drink while straight whiskey is bitter and not so tasteful (generally speaking). Wines are probably easy on the taste buds.

For me, beer was an acquired taste, but I un-acquired a taste for any alcohol over 10 years ago. I've recently reconsidered wine for dinner purposes as I recently started learning to cook (for more than mere subsistence).

Edited by RationalBiker
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In my opinion, it is simply stupid to put something in your body that will cause harm, whether it be liver, lung, or brain damage. I would think that any risk of damaging vital organs vastly outweighs any benefits the drug may have. Alcohol appears to be fine in moderation. Although, since I am under 21, I haven't had much experience with alcohol and cannot say I know its full effects firsthand. I would assume hangovers are unpleasant.

Any thoughts or feelings that a person has on a mind-altering drug are not truly his thoughts or feelings. It distorts the mind. A person is just as able to realize and discover things while he is able to to hold a conversation and be a rational human being.

To those who have tried it, is alcohol an aquired taste? Every time I've tried it, it has left a nasty, burning taste in my mouth.

Tylenol is extremely toxic to the liver but it can treat many ailments so a cost-benefit analysis must be made. (not to mention very dangerous drugs like lithium) Most drugs (usually less toxic) require the same risk vs reward thinking. There are things like inhalants which basically just kill brain cells, but most are not that clear cut. Alcohol is toxic as well but if used properly one can manage the risk... and avoid any nasty hangovers. :P

Mind-altering is not mind-stealing and as such, I would contend that many thoughts in an altered state are one's own thoughts. Someone suffering in pain may be more rational and clear headed after taking opiates. I'm not sure why this entire subject seems to hit such a nerve. It can and should be approached with the same sort of objectivity as any other subject.

Many cultured, fermented, or strong flavors can be acquired tastes. Since many alcoholic drinks have those qualities, I'd say they qualify. I used to hate things like Scotch but as I trained my palate I came to enjoy it. A good cabernet sauvignon is pure bliss to me. I wouldn't be in a hurry, you'll have plenty of time after 21 to try things out if you so choose. B)

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