The United States Navy has recently released a video to try to dissuade Navy Personnel from using and abusing “bath salts”, a relatively new synthetic drug that resembles epsom salts and has similar affects to amphetamines. According to some reports, Bath salts can cause hallucinations and paranoid delusions, and its use has been linked to a spate of vicious attacks all around the world. But the way that the United States Navy is tackling this problem is an interesting one. The PSA they have created shows that heavy handed abolition is not sufficient to exterminate drug use, what is required is a change of culture.

Once upon a time it would have been possible for drug production and use to be completely stamped out. But this was when “drugs” were nothing more than plants or other natural substances that were simply grown and consumed. At this time all that was needed to “stamp out” drugs would have been to physically stop the growing and transportation of drugs. But drug taking has ever evolved, and has become increasingly synthetic; we have seen the introduction of alcohols, opioids, and other chemicals (etc.). Drugs are no longer simply grown; they are invented and manufactured. It is no longer necessary to have access to a specific plant or a specific set of machinery to create mind altering substances (e.g. alcohol can be created with little more than sugar, water and some form of starchy plant material). In reality, the available sciences and the extent of imagination are the only limits to the range, quantity and quality of drugs. As science progresses, so will the variety and access to drugs. Just as the new age of 3D printing heralds the end of firearm prohibitions, so has information technology and universal education brought to an end the reality of stopping drug manufacturing and abuse by simple restrictions on supply.

For some reason many countries think it is justified to restrict individuals from recreational drug use. While I agree with this principle to some extent (e.g. I think that drugs like Bath Salts, which allegedly cause the user to commit violent crimes, should be banned), I think they are going at it the wrong way. It is not possible to stamp out drug use through eliminating supply. People will always find a way; a new drug, a new derivative (etc.), and the rapid advance of science and technology will only aid them in their quest. Unless people find that drug taking is disadvantageous for them, they will continue to take drugs. If societies really want to stop drug use; they must change the drug culture. They must show them that drug taking is disadvantageous.

For reference, here is the video released by the US Navy: