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General*
Windows Bob - the best!
Sat 7th Feb '09 1:39PM
4213 Posts
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7th Apr '03
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7876425.stm

This news article makes the interesting point that spending your weekend gurning to techno in an ecstasy enhanced fever and taking your beloved horsey for a canter are equally risky pastimes, but one is far more socially acceptable than the other.

Instinctively I feel there is a difference, but why?

I'm not including the fact that the drug trade funds crime and terrorism aspect because if it were legalised this would of course not be the case.
    

Amanshu*
Giggity Giggity goo
Wed 11th Feb '09 10:24AM
2708 Posts
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25th Aug '04
The thing I always find interesting in these studies (both for ecstacy and marijuana) is that there is usually one expert saying 'actually it's pretty ok' and everyone else going 'NO! You're wrong'. That's a bit of a mass generalisation, but still.

Now we've debated in the past the effect of the media sensationalism on stories like this, and I really don't want to go into it here, but I always wonder if it's because the story's so juicy. For those who enjoy the drugs it's a rallying point, for those who dislike them it's a further indication of what's wrong with the world. Anyway enough with the random digression.

The problem with drugs has, and will always be, the uncertainty inherent in them. With horseriding you're introduced to it gradually and trained up to a level that you can handle. The risks involved with it is (or at least should be) reasonably controlled. Something can go spectacularly wrong of course, but in the vast majority of cases you have a good idea of exactly what will happen.

Drugs on the other hand go from nothing to full on straight away. There's no real learning curve, just a tolerance level (depending upon the drug). You could argue in the case of Ecstacy that it hasn't caused any deaths itself - all of the deaths are based upon people overheating, or overdrinking in an effort to control the overheating. So to some extent it is a controlled risk. If done properly then I guess that yes, the two situations have a certain similarity.

The main reason drugs are considered less socially acceptable is because they alter your fundamental behaviour. The lowering of responsibilty and inhibitions can leave you open to danger in a way that horseriding can't. If anything does go wrong with any physical activity then generally your mind is still intact to help you deal with the situation. With drugs the view is that your mind is impared and so if anything goes wrong you won't be able to deal with the situation as effectively as you would if you were sober.
   

Demian*
Oh Lordy, Plegaleggole
Wed 11th Feb '09 2:03PM
4678 Posts
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7th Apr '03
I think there's a major problem with this analysis. Horse Riding kills 100 people a year, Ecstasy kills 30 (and those indirectly). The report says one is as safe than the other, yet this takes no account of the number of people who indulge in either activity. Horse riding is a fairly exclusive activity (I have no idea of the actual numbers) whereas estimates place regular ecstasy use at around 2m people, of which only 30 die per year.

Please note that this is an argument with the statistical analysis, not an argument for the use of ecstasy. I believe that while ecstasy is almost certainly not going to kill you, it can and does cause long term mental health effects - when you take ecstasy it jams open the seratonin releasing parts of the brain, causing the euphoria, and preventing the seratonin from being reuptaken (as SSRI antidepressants such as Prozac and Citalopram do). However, a lot of studies have shown that the seratonin reuptaker parts of the brain don't fully recover for many weeks or months thereafter, and in some cases they never fully recover. Whilst you may imagine this would make you permanently happy, the opposite is true. We experience happiness due to relative increases in seratonin levels in the brain - if your base levels of seratonin are raised, then in order to experience happiness a much larger amount of seratonin is needed to cause feelings of pleasure in the brain. This is what causes the long term depression associated with regular ecstasy use. Personally I think a moderate chance of damaging your long term prospects for happiness far outweighs a vanishingly small risk of dropping dead due to cell membrane collapse through drinking too much water.
  

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