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“We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal  damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes these drugs so valuable –  while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.

History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.

We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could  focus  more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.”

http://www.leap.cc/about/why-legalize-drugs/

“We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal  damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes these drugs so valuable –  while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.

History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.

We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could  focus  more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.”

http://www.leap.cc/about/why-legalize-drugs/

It doesn’t take a Home Office funded research team to learn that an ever increasingly well-informed public is starting to spot the biases and interests behind FRANK:
Image

Although it takes no stretch of investigative journalism to discover that FRANK is funded by the government (via the Department of Health and The Home Office). Those unsuspecting marks, lured to the ‘Talk to Frank website’ by its multi-million pound advertising campaigns, would have no idea about it’s government connections from the website itself.

Nowhere on the website is it made clear that the charade is funded by the Home Office. Those visiting the site may wrongly assume that it is somehow independent, objective and fair.

This article hopes to highlight the intentional misrepresentations of psychedelics on the part of the organisation FRANK. In particular, this article analyses the misrepresentation of LSD to those who visit the FRANK website looking for objective information.

A Home Office report states that:
In March 2010

• 86% of 11 –18 year olds were aware of the FRANK service;
• of those, 80% trusted FRANK to give them reliable information about drugs;
and
• around 40% of young people would contact the FRANK website compared to 22% who would contact their friends for information about drugs.

The service offers “excellent value for money”, costing tax-payers a nominal £1-1.5 million per year.

Drugs education will always be a conflicted matter. On the one hand, educators and officials want to see a decrease in drug use; on the other hand, there’s the truth.

Now, nowhere on the FRANK website did we find any lies. As with so many things, it is just as important to spot what has >not been said< as to see what a given text makes explicit.

What's wrong with this picture?

What’s wrong with this picture?

So here’s the first thing an individual research LSD would see. It starts off with a cursory mention about positive effects: positive effects that are down-played and misrepresented. What the FRANK website isn’t so frank about is the widespread personality, emotional, and spiritual transformations that research shows are fairly likely to occur. It dedicates ONE SENTENCE to the positives, within which it refers to them with a metaphysically loaded (and dismissive) term “hallucinations”.

The rest of this neutral and unbiased introduction is dedicated to the negatives, it is dedicated to fear-mongering.

Note that FRANK doesn’t provide much in the way of numbers: it doesn’t say what percentage of experiences are good or bad, it uses words like “depressed” to insinuate mental health issues, whilst being a little sparse on any evidence.

Now let’s look at ‘The Risks’ section, note: there isn’t a section for benefits, clinical uses, or any research indicating that LSD can make a positive contribution to one’s life.

More propagandaNow, we think it’s a great credit to FRANK that midst it’s highly biased representation of LSD, it does state “There’s no evidence to suggest LSD does any long-term damage to the body or directly causes long-term psychological damage.”

It is also honest about LSD being non-addictive, and that impurities with LSD are rare. This does raise the question, why such matters have their own sub-headings?

Here’s the sneaky bit though. The ‘experience reports’. Now, there doesn’t seem to be a mechanism which allows for people who have used LSD to submit their own reports, that’s a little strange isn’t it?

One would think that, when designing a website which provides unbiased information, which offers “first hand accounts” of drug experiences, that it might be an idea to provide a function that allows drug users to submit their accounts? If LSD is so bad, why not just let people who have used it write their feedback? The truth about LSD can go no further than the experiences of those involved with it.

FRANK has a page here: http://www.talktofrank.com/story/add

Which allows users to submit their accounts. As we are about to see, there is sufficient evidence to indicate a very heavy bias in their selection process. I invite any qualified readers to try and submit a positive LSD experience to the FRANK website and see how far it gets!

Let’s just compare the headings for FRANK’s LSD reports to those contained on Erowid.

Erowid is, in fact, the website that FRANK ought to be: it offers truly unbiased information, and allows drug users to upload their uncensored experiences of ANY drugs, and ANY combinations. Erowid does not censor “negative” experience-reports, nor does it censor “positive” ones:

erowid screenshot lsdIn fact: it has over 1000 reports (on LSD alone), categorised in various useful ways. It has amassed a huge collection of experience-reports which are the result of hundreds of different drugs, in myriad combinations, being described by thousands of individuals.

FRANK offers only five experience reports, most of which feature LSD being abused, misused, and mixed with other drugs, perhaps you can identify the selection bias?

LSD FRANK Bullshit experience reportsThe implication of these reports, for a reader who is looking for some cursory information about the effects of LSD, is that the experience will be nightmarish, will “destroy your family” and “cost you good friends” and probably land you in a psychiatric unit.

Now let’s not be naïve here: as Erowid’s comprehensive collection of trip reports indicate, bad trips happen, train-wrecks and disasters occur, and LSD can become an unhelpful habit for some individuals. What Erowid shows, however, is that:

1) LSD is far more likely to produce positive experiences than negative.
2) That the nature of those positive experiences is often described as profound by it’s users.

If FRANK wants to be frank about LSD, it needs to be a little more FRANK about what motivates people to use it, how MOST people find the LSD experience. If it wants to avoid the inherent biases of subjective reports, perhaps it could refer to more scientific information. If it wants to provide a truly neutral resource, it ought to avoid generalisations and selection biases.

Perhaps most important of all, FRANK ought to be honest and explicit about it’s connections to the government. It is a political website pretending (by omission) to be non-political. It is a service built to serve the interests of the state, pretending to serve the interests of the individual: the harmony of those interests is a matter of great controversy.

TLDR: Don’t talk to FRANK, talk to erowid.

erowid logo sign image information knowledge awareness

“We believe that drug prohibition is the true cause of much of the social and personal  damage that has historically been attributed to drug use. It is prohibition that makes these drugs so valuable –  while giving criminals a monopoly over their supply. Driven by the huge profits from this monopoly, criminal gangs bribe and kill each other, law enforcers, and children. Their trade is unregulated and they are, therefore, beyond our control.

History has shown that drug prohibition reduces neither use nor abuse. After a rapist is arrested, there are fewer rapes. After a drug dealer is arrested, however, neither the supply nor the demand for drugs is seriously changed. The arrest merely creates a job opening for an endless stream of drug entrepreneurs who will take huge risks for the sake of the enormous profits created by prohibition. Prohibition costs taxpayers tens of billions of dollars every year, yet 40 years and some 40 million arrests later, drugs are cheaper, more potent and far more widely used than at the beginning of this futile crusade.

We believe that by eliminating prohibition of all drugs for adults and establishing appropriate regulation and standards for distribution and use, law enforcement could  focus  more on crimes of violence, such as rape, aggravated assault, child abuse and murder, making our communities much safer. We believe that sending parents to prison for non-violent personal drug use destroys families. We believe that in a regulated and controlled environment, drugs will be safer for adult use and less accessible to our children. And we believe that by placing drug abuse in the hands of medical professionals instead of the criminal justice system, we will reduce rates of addiction and overdose deaths.”

http://www.leap.cc/about/why-legalize-drugs/

This article challenges the dominant view that LSD plays a significant causal role in the occurance of suicide, it attacks the media double-standard around LSD and suicide, and discusses the scientific evidence that the public has been misled on the issue.

The Media Double-Standard

During the 1960s and 1970’s the right-wing US government saw that LSD use was asosciated with increasingly radical left-wing political thought and activism: they were terrified and would stop at nothing to curb its usage so as to protect their interests and agendas.

A media shitstorm of epic proportions was was unleashed with a view to demonising the drug and its users. The media at the time used a few tenuous anecdotes of LSD related suicides, amidst a vast sea of LSD users to successfully embed the idea that the drug would cause instant insanity and presented a high risk of suicide into popular consciousness where it still persists to this day.

These anecdotes prove nothing: it is likely that (the very small number of) suicides that occured under the influence of LSD occured in individuals already at risk from suicide. There is no evidence idea that LSD is likely to cause a perfectly sane and functional individual to kill themselves.

As with many claims about the harms of psychedelic or recreational drugs, this issue shows clearly how double standards are at work. How many suicides occur whilst people are under the influence of alcohol? How many suicides are caused by prescribed psychiatric mediation? Why is it that if a single individual dies under the influence of LSD it makes it to national newpapers- yet all these other suicides are ignored?

Then there are all the suicides that have nothing to do with chemicals at all. How many people are driven to suicide by monotonous, stressful and/or futile jobs? By failed or failing marriages? By money worries, poverty and debt? In fact, there are so many risk factors asosciated with suicide which are either ignored by the media or treated in a very different way to the rare occasions of a suicide that is linked to LSD use.

Given LSD’s proven use as a psychotherepeutic agent it is a fair assumption that LSD ‘might’ have actually averted suicides in some cases. Of course, such an assertion could (by its very nature) not really be proven with ease, and certainly such cases would never make it to the mainstream media.

Let’s not forget, in the background of all of this, we have an obvious double-standard: a government who would ban a chemical under the premise that it is “protecting” people, whilst asking the same people to sign up to its army, to die killing others in the name of the economy.

Scientific Research

Where does objective the scientific research stand on this issue? According to Stafford & Golightly’s research:

“In 1960 Dr. Sidney Cohen undertook an extensive survey of psychedelic use to determine the nature of possible drawbacks. [His data] represented over 5,000 patients and 25,000 sessions covering a dosage range of from 25 mcg. to 1500 mcg.
[…] no serious physical complications were reported—even when the drugs were given to alcoholics with generally impaired health. There was also a surprisingly low incidence of major mental disturbances. Despite the profound psychic changes that occur while a subject is under the influence of LSD or mescaline, psychotic reactions lasting longer than 48 hours developed in fewer than 2/10ths of one per cent of the cases. The attempted suicide rate was just over 1/10th of one percent. Not one case of addiction was reported.”

This was research carried out on psychiatric patients, already at a higher risk of suicide than the general population.

“Among those who had simply volunteered for LSD or mescaline experiments, major or prolonged psychological complications almost never occurred. In this group, only one instance of a psychotic reaction lasting longer than two days was reported, and there were no suicides. Among the mentally ill given the drugs, however, prolonged psychotic states were induced in one out of every 550 patients. In this group, one in 830 attempted suicide, and one in 2500 carried the attempt through.”

We must keep in mind that the current overall US suicide rate is 11.8/100,000 (0.0018%), meaning there is no significant effect of LSD on suicide rates (the research above reports it was slightly over (0.0010%).

Clearly the risk of suicide has been greatly exagerated by the popular press. One of the most annoying things about this is that many LSD first-timers, whose main source of knowledge are the lies they have been spoon-fed by the mass-media, are primed into suicide-paranoia which detracts from their experience and significantly adds to the risks.

The therepeutic effect so LSD, which are established beyond reasonable doubt, are ignored by the press: would the newspapers run a story if an individual claimed that LSD had stopped them killing themselves? ‘LSD saves another life’ is not a headline I expect to see soon, but I am confident that LSD does more good than harm for the majority of individuals who use it. The fact is, we have no idea of knowing how many (if any) lives LSD has actually saved over the last 50 years.

Discussion

There is a more subtle thing going on here with the issue of suicide. Having worked in mental health, one of the first things one is taught is to let go of our moralistic judgements around suicide. When I hear of individuals who have killed themselves on LSD, I interpret that series of events very differently to a story of a man who killed themselves because of their marriage or debt: the suicide has a different meaning, arguably every suicide has a different meaning.

On LSD individuals have the capacity to transcend their bodies their bodies. I can understand why, in such moments, some users feel that they no longer need the body at all. Whether this is right or wrong, delusion or not, is not my place to say. What I will say is this: self-immolation and the conscious destruction of the body  has a well known historical pedigree in Buddhism and Hinduism: not just as a form of political protest (as we see in modern times), but as an expression of spiritual realisation and attainment. This is well-documented in the book ‘Burning for Buddha‘, for those short on time the wikipedia article on self-immolation may suffice.

Research demonstrates that one of LSD’s applications is in end-of-life care: it has been shown to help people to face their own death, to reduce the anxiety and fear surrounding death. Given this, it may help us understand why there might be a link between some individuals using LSD and then taking their own lives. LSD is known to reduce (or even remove) the fear of death, that might make suicide a more viable option to many. Further, individuals who (before LSD) wish to kill themselves, may use LSD as a way of achieving it in a peaceful manner.

Suicide is the third biggest killers of young men aged between 16-25, a clear indication of the spiritual bankrupcy of our age. LSD has the potential to re-awaken the forgotten aspects of our humanity and make life worth living for those who have forgotten the significance of their existence.

To summarise this article:

  • A double-standard exists in the media which high-lights LSD suicides whilst ignoring myriad other causes of suicide that our society embraces or ignores.
  • Scientific research provides no evidence that there is a significant link between LSD use and suicide.
  • If it is true, as research consistantly indicates, that LSD has psycho-therepeutic potential, then it is reasonable to assume that LSD may have prevented suicides in some users.
  • LSD may be a useful tool in addressing the high suicide-rates in our society.
  • The ability for LSD to alleviate death-anxiety means it may be a tool used by the suicidal, rather than a trigger of suicide.
  • We must avoid simple moralistic judgements about suicide, since history demonstrates that suicide is, in some cases, asosciated with genuine spiritual expression and attainment.

Post-Script Side Note

In many ways, the right to take one’s own life is fundamentally an issue of cognitive liberty. Afterall, what more basic expression of choice is there: than tha ability to chose to live or die?

In 1961, the British Government chose to recognise this freedom by deriminalising that act. Given that suicide is the most extreme form of self-harm/high-risk behaviour, surely it is logically inconsistant to prohibit the use of drugs on the basis that they are a risk to people’s health?

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