If you are triggered by the above statements and thinking “can drugs end or destroy lives?” I encourage you to take a moment to grieve your loss or feel your fear. In no way am I trying to invalidate your trauma. It’s true that drugs can enable negative behaviors, spark or inflate instabilities, and lead to devastating, tragic consequences. But I hope to show you that out of control drug use is the symptom, not the cause, of degrading mental health, that often the same population that is most vulnerable to falling down that rabbit hole is the most isolated by its stigmatization, and that ignoring the path we’re on has already placed us in a dangerous position so we must act now. We are in crisis and we need to understand reduction of harm. We need to prevent further tragedy. We need to invest in educating our vulnerable communities instead of pushing them further from necessary support. And we need to set reasonable goals as a community that encourage unity in the shared goal of overall health, safety, and quality of life.

So to start let’s stop pretending that the solution is for all of us delinquents to simply stop using drugs. That suggestion is laughably unrealistic. Pretty much everyone uses drugs. Many are so integrated into our routines that we don’t even recognize them as “drugs,” but molecules are still molecules. All my research and personal experience combined has shown me that drugs are molecules and molecules are unbiased. Just as a car can be a routine form of transportation, a necessary safe space, a toy, or a weapon, the role of drugs in an individuals life is determined by their behavior. We are the ones who give them bias by the intentions, dosage, and societal/communal stigma we attribute to them.

People use drugs for a reason. It’s been shown that medical use typically means more responsible use. If we 

So what makes a molecule a drug? Here’s the scientific definition: it’s a molecule (group of atoms) that comes from outside your body (exogenous) and has an effect. Society typically splits it into three big categories of: medicinal/therapeutic, illegal/illicit, and routine/invisible.

Let’s hit the easiest assumption first – most people think the routine/invisible drugs are completely safe and without risk. **BBBZZZ** Incorrect. Some of the routine/invisible drugs that we often thoughtlessly integrate into our lives like tylenol (acetaminophen), advil (ibuprofen), and benadryl (diphenhydramine) have a fairly low therapeutic index. This is a measurement of safety used by pharmacologists to quickly compare safety profiles – it’s the amount of drug it would take to kill you divided by the amount of drug it takes to receive the desired effect. The bigger the therapeutic index, generally, the safer the drug. 

So if the therapeutic index is low, why are we so careless with them? Well, we understand the proper dose to use to minimize that risk.