Mainstream media tend to report more stories about illicit drugs than alcohol.
Stories about illicit drugs are also more negative. The media is more likely to frame illicit drugs as dangerous, morally corrosive and associated with violent behaviour, while it frames people who use illicit drugs as irresponsible and deviant.
In particular, the media is more likely to link illegal drugs with violent crimes, sexual assaults and murders than alcohol. This is despite one study finding 47% of homicides in Australia over a six-year period were alcohol-related.
Coverage of the recent Rainbow Serpent Festival in Victoria is one example of how the media have linked illegal drug use with violence.
But we’d argue there were no more than any alcohol-related violence and sexual assaults expected at a similarly large gathering on Australia Day.
There were reports of alleged sexual and physical assaults at the festival, held over five days including Australia Day. But we’d argue there were no more than any alcohol-related violence and sexual assaults expected at a similarly large gathering on Australia Day.
Considering media reporting plays an important role in shaping people’s opinions, this might lead people to believe illicit drugs are more likely to lead to violence than alcohol.
This is because of a type of cognitive bias or “mental shortcut”, known as the availability heuristic, which leads people to form opinions based on the most recent information they receive.
So what does the evidence say about whether alcohol or other drugs is more likely to lead to violence? And are some drugs worse than others?
What does the evidence say?
Most violence linked to alcohol and other drugs in Australia is due to alcohol, with 26% of Australians reporting they have been affected by alcohol-related violence compared with 3.1% who reported being affected by violence related to illicit drugs.
Despite rates of alcohol consumption remaining relatively stable in Australia between 2003 and 2013, there was an 85% increase in alcohol-related family violence over the same time period. While some drugs such as methamphetamine (“ice”) have been implicated in a recent royal commission with an increase family violence, the degree to which it plays a role is not clear.
When people drink, they tend to make poor decisions and are more likely to react emotionally to situations in which they might normally respond with more reason and reflection.
How does this happen?
In understanding how alcohol and other drugs mediate violence, we need to consider how they work in the body.
As people drink alcohol, they experience reduced functioning of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, a part that plays an important role in how people regulate behaviour and make decisions. When people drink, they tend to make poor decisions and are more likely to react emotionally to situations in which they might normally respond with more reason and reflection. When people drink they are also less likely to consider the possible consequences of their actions.
MDMA (“ecstasy”) works in a different way. It leads to a release of serotonin in the brain so people tend to become empathetic towards others and emotionally open. So, MDMA is rarely associated with violence. That’s the case unless people take it with other drugs such as alcohol or stimulants, or they take what they think is ecstasy but really is a new or otherwise harmful drug.
LSD (“acid”) is a psychedelic drug that binds to certain serotonin receptors in the brain. So, LSD can lead to significant changes in consciousness and perception that are therapeutic in clinical settings. But people can become overwhelmed by the changes in perception caused by LSD at festivals, leading some people to become distressed and occasionally unaware of their actions. There are no studies showing a clear link between the use of LSD and violence.
Anecdotally, we have rarely seen people become violent as a result of their distress after taking LSD at festivals. However, as with ecstasy, there is no quality control of the illicit drug market in Australia and some people have had violent reactions or self-harmed as a result of unintentionally consuming NBOMe drugs sold as LSD.
So, it would appear alcohol is far more likely to be associated with violence than MDMA or LSD.
Drugs such as methamphetamine have also been associated with violent behaviour and psychosis in hospital emergency departments, particularly in association with extended sleep deprivation.
We are not aware of any data that compares emergency department presentations due to alcohol-related violence with amphetamine-related violence. But we know the total number of presentations to emergency departments due to amphetamines (the class of stimulants to which “ice” belongs) pales in comparison to those involving alcohol.
So, it would appear alcohol is far more likely to be associated with violence than MDMA or LSD.
Widespread use of alcohol
A key factor in this situation, of course, is that alcohol is arguably the most widely accepted social tonic in western society. The most recent data show that about 80% of Australians aged over 14 drank alcohol in the past year, with 6.5% drinking it daily.
While most people consider its risks to both personal health and community safety manageable, research suggests its widespread use makes it the most harmful drug due to the impact it has on others in terms of violence.
But most illicit drugs are recent arrivals in western society and have been subject to widespread prohibition rather than regulation. So, it is hardly surprising that fewer people use them.
The most recent data show that about 7.2% of Australians aged over 14 consumed “ecstasy” in the past 12 months, 2.1% had used methamphetamine and 1.3% had used a psychedelic drug, such as LSD, in the past 12 months.
What we’d like to see
Ultimately, we need more research to confirm, despite the acknowledged risk of other harms, that drugs like MDMA and LSD have a low potential for causing violence compared with alcohol.
The media should be more responsible in how they report on alcohol and other drugs, particularly given the consistently high rates of alcohol-related violence compared to violence linked with other drugs.
People who use illicit drugs are also a minority and it is important the media does not further marginalise this group by using stigmatising language.
Without such changes there will still be limited opportunities to discuss implementing evidence-based drug policy. Rather, Australia will continue to fall behind other western nations in implementing harm reduction measures such as pill testing.
Drinking one glass of wine with dinner is reasonable.
Consuming a pre-dinner cocktail, followed by wine with your meal, then another drink with dessert and maybe a nightcap before bed is, according to health experts, excessive.
And if you’re doing that once a week — or four to five times a month— then you may be one of the 12.5 percent of Utahns who binge drink, according to the “Excessive Alcohol Use” report released recently by the Utah Department of Health.
Being an excessive drinker is different from having an alcohol dependency in which a person is unable to limit alcohol consumption. But excessive drinking is still an economic burden on the state and its residents, costing Utah $1.2 billion a year in missed work, additional health care costs, increased crime and justice-related expenses, according to the report, which uses state health statistics and national data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Everyone is affected,” said Anna Buckner, an epidemiologist with the department’s Violence and Injury Prevention Program, “so it’s important that people understand what excessive use is.”
Binge drinkers and their families pay the largest amount of the binge-drinking bill at $512 million, Buckner said. State government takes on $292 million of the financial burden, followed by the federal government at $227 million and others in society at $201 milllion.
According to the CDC numbers, binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks in a single occasion for women and five or more for men. Heavy drinking is at least eight drinks per week for women and 14 for men.
When compared with other states, Utah’s 12.5 percent binge drinking rate is the fourth lowest. Only Tennessee (11.3), West Virginia (11.8) and Mississippi (12.3) were lower, the CDC numbers show.
Utah’s level also is below the national average of 16.9 percent and half that of the District of Columbia and North Dakota, which have the highest binge rates of 25.5 percent and 24.8 percent, respectively.
Utah’s numbers are due partly to its teetotaling population — 60 percent of residents are Mormons, who are taught to abstain from alcohol.
But the state still has work to do, said Buckner, noting that an average of 33 people died each year from alcohol poisoning from 2010 to 2012. That put Utah seventh highest in the nation for the number of such deaths.
Structural Bias Against Boys
Sitting in our Universities, with their fat paychecks some of our professors are out to destroy Indian society in the name of gender bias and inequality. They are running courses related to ‘Gender Studies. You visit any of these so-called classes run by these feminists, you will hear theories of how the Structural Discrimination and Implicit Bias is haunting women for ages. One of their popular theories is discrimination in food distribution and lower nutrition of girls. Their complaint is that the implicit bias in parents gives less food (or less nutrition) to girl children simply for their gender. Hence, they demand and create awareness in their classes that boys and girls should be given an equal amount of food. This was one of the basis that in Food Security Bill in 2013 where food supply became women-centric. Not only that, the National Policy for Women
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Iqbal Nadvi. Photo: screenshot YouTube Masjid Toronto
Dr. Iqbal Massod Al-Nadvi is the Amir (President) of Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA) Canada and is also serving as Chairperson of Canadian Council of Imams. he also served as Director of Al-Falah Islamic School in Oakville, Ontario from 2004 to 2011, prior to which he served as Imam of Muslim Association of Calgary Islamic Center from 1998-2004 and as a member of the University of Calgary chaplaincy team.
On October 23, 2015, a few days after the landslide victory of the Liberal Party in the federal elections, Imam Iqbal Nadvi delivered the Friday sermon at Masjid Toronto Mosque (168 Dundas St. West, Toronto), which is affiliated with the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC).
Nadvi hailed the Muslim youths for mobilizing the Muslim community to vote in the elections and to help Muslim candidates to win their seats in Parliament.
He called on Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau to…
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