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The American point of this essentially I'm talking about the general population a conservative one in the ground and I was seen as a worker of the boxset galaxy. This drug talk about drugs what they are and how they affect modern man. Produced for radio by the American University broadcast center in collaboration with the National Institute of general medical sciences a unit of the National Institutes of Health. In our discussions with authorities on drugs and their use We'll explore where drugs come from how they are discovered. The natural substances provided by nature and the synthetics invented by man. We'll examine why people take drugs of all kinds and the effect of drugs on 20th century society. We'll investigate the latest developments in pharmacological research ways
in which the federal government is concerned with drugs and drug use. Drug laws why we have them and whether they are beneficial. These and other questions facing us all in this drug age on this program. Why has contemporary society turned to drugs in such apparently increasing numbers. Why are drugs being used to satisfy psychic needs that were formally gratified in other ways. To find the answers Patricia Wakeling talks with a psychiatry and a psychologist from the National Institute of Mental Health. The psychiatry list is Dr. Jerome Levine chief of the. And I am age psychopharmacology branch Michel Barnier is a research psychologist with that branch and research director of a national program concerned with the nature and extent of psycho active
drug use research that will lead hopefully to new insight into our attitudes toward illness suffering and the use of chemistry to cope with life. First Dr. Levine defines psycho pharmacology and psycho part of the code really refers to an area of study and of use of drugs drugs which have as their main effect the. Control of mood and behavior as opposed to effects on other parts. Such as the cardiovascular or respiratory system. It refers to an area of study in which we try and learn how these drugs have their effect. And it refers to an area of study in which we try and find drugs which can be used to treat mental illnesses. This statement has been made that. Some said days are part of the human condition
and it is not the function of the physician to induce a bit euphoria. This savors to me of another way of saying a little suffering is good for you is it. Let's say that it's unavoidable. And that it is true or at least in my is my impression that people are increasingly trying to avoid the states that we call suffering. And there is very likely a shift in values in the sense that suffering as a means of. Forming character improving the quality of of mind and the like is going out of style. That this is no longer seen as the virtue that it once was. Assuming that that some pain is necessary or unavoidable. Drugs simply become a way of offsetting or reducing the amount of suffering or the number of occasions on which people suffer. And there seems
to be a different predilection to take drugs based in part upon one's view about how much discomfort one ought to experience. And drug is viewed as a technology among others or it can be that it makes life more pleasant. And this may be a shifting consideration in contemporary society from the medical or psychiatric point of view. We have to make clear that the physicians role is healing and the patient who seeks help is coming because he is having some pain of one type or another. Now suffering is not an all or none phenomenon. There is an amount of suffering. And I think everyone would agree that when suffering is intense that a physician has one way of dealing with this suffering and no one would object to it. When
we find conditions or people complain of things that other people do not think are severe suffering then we get into the fringe area of whether a drug should be used or not. But I think it's a mistake to think and of suffering in terms of all or not want about the other reasons why we start to take drugs to feel right feel better generally fear of death out of boredom or just just plain guilty also. I think these are the very areas that would be considered gray and some person's attitudes lead them to believe that this is too much suffering and too difficult to cope with these issues and they do look for relief of various types. One type of relief would be the use of medication to reduce the anxiety or the depression associated with coping with these problems. What about the guilt in this.
It's really the notion being that that if one uses drugs which essentially is a passive means of altering one state of solving one's problems. That in the older tradition this was regarded as some somehow less respectable than a direct attack than personal discipline was. And what we're really talking about when we would at least assume that if there is a change in point of view. About discomfort about illness and about the manner in which drugs are used and the purposes for which they're used. It would seem to be accompanied by a reduction in the associated guilt. The two things would apparently go together and I think we're we're really talking about the extent to which good character or strength of character is defined by the ability to tolerate versity and the willingness to
tolerate adversity. And that is in a sense what we are we are at least hypothesizing may be changing in contemporary society. I think it's also important to point out that our drugs are not so potent and so specific that we can remove all forms of anxiety and all forms of depression at will. Our drugs tend to diminish anxiety and diminish depression but not in a particularly specific way. And therefore I don't feel that the issue is as clear cut as do you take a pill to instantly remove your anxiety or eat your depression or do you not take a pill to do this. Could we talk a little bit more specifically about psychotropic drugs not of these. Let me say go back over the same shit is in the form of a natural substance is that they're also as new as tomorrow that was made from synthetic substances such as in this house since it is times have been used in the treatment of disease. They have
played a social role. For instance alcohol and religious for example Misc. out. Well you know Dr. Bolduan tell us about the advantages of the drug as a heuristic device that agents drugs can give us insight into how people function. However important certain aspects are if you like the mind or the body in a particular kind of functioning. The fact that you can control a dose that you can control a mode in which you put the drug in the body the rate at which you put it in makes it possible to selectively study aspects of functioning behavior and things of that nature. At the pharmacologic and physiologic level for example we have a specific chemical compounds these may not be drugs that are actually used therapeutically. But there are specific chemicals that alter
physiological processes that go on in different parts of the brain. By altering this physiology we can then see what the effect is upon behavior and thus learn better how the brain functions normally. It might be appropriate here if you said something about LSD. It is one of the synthetic drugs that you mentioned LSD does not occur in nature. It was first synthesized in 1938 by Albert Hofmann in Switzerland. At that time it was an intermediate in the production of the drug ergo no being a drug that is used to control uterine bleeding especially after childbirth. It was not until 1943 when the drug this intermediate drug was accidentally ingested by Dr. Hoffman that its profound effects on the
thinking perception and mood were discovered. At first the drug was thought to produce a model psychotic state. That is the symptoms that produced visual distortions in allusions shifts in mood Rosse of time sense mimic some of the symptoms that were seen in major psychosis such as schizophrenia. And it was thought that this drug in fact produced a model psychosis a closer examination of the symptoms or psychopathology that was produced. However showed that they were not the same as those that routinely occur in major psychosis such as schizophrenia. Further it was found that giving the drug in more supportive circumstances sometimes led to what has been called the psychedelic reaction. This psychedelic reaction has also been referred to as ego dissolving
experiences a transcendental type experience this. Nirvana type experiences and some have felt this type of experience gives them greater insight into themselves and into the world in which they live. Those people sometimes took on a type of missionary zeal and having found this new way of looking at the world we're interested in having others share the experience. Consequently the drug was in a sense promoted for these purposes rather than for medical purposes. It's hard to know. What causes a drug to be abused in the first place and what causes it to stop being abused. Certainly the early claims that taking this drug in an unsupervised way in a non-medical setting was entirely safe have proved to be erroneous. The dangers from taking the drug in this way are both the
psychological nature and are possibly of a physiological nature. There is some evidence that ingesting LSD Bay in fact cause some damage to chromosomes part of the cell structure in the body. There is definite proof that taking LSD in unsupervised Circumstances may lead to definite psychopathological symptoms of a short or even of a long duration. There were some well fields. On the whole that the use of drugs must be controlled. Is this attitude a result of the masochistic teachings of the early Christian reformers is it something to do with the theological concept of Ben being a strong moral force. There is a school of thought that believes that taking drugs leads to a poverty of this. If you stop hurting you stop getting the boot.
I think we ought to. Dissect that issue a little. First there are variations within the Western World are some countries that have many of the drugs that we have on prescription controlled by the physician has sold over the counter. That is there are countries that are much less stringent. Italy in particular Mexico to name another one. And yet these countries do not report any any serious. Consequences which raises. Questions about the cultural constraints that operate on drug taking. In the general sense I think drugs traditionally have been both celebrated and feared and for a very good reason. Drugs are one of the few substances that we know that can produce changes marked changes in behavior that are in effect or literally out of the control of the individual. They don't require a contribution of the
individual they don't require a decision about about action. They have some rather immediate effects. I think it's also true that traditionally we find or historically we find that the drug many of the drugs of abuse produce rather on responsive rather passive. Withdrawn States which reduce pain but do interfere with the and with functioning in the sense of awareness of the environment reactivity to the environment and that in that sense interfere with initiative. This is of course a matter of how often they're taken how frequently they are taken and under what circumstances. There also is the more concrete issue that every physician faces and that we face in pharmacology of the benefit risk ratio associated with any drug. Every drug produces an effect the desirable either from a therapeutic point of view or desirable from a personal or subjective point of view in that
it's pleasing. But I must add drugs have. Also have effects on the body that can be dangerous. This is is the risk in a sense that every physician takes so many administers drugs and he type traits that as he balances off the severity of the disease with other. Other treatments and other therapies available. And puts this in the contest of the risk involved in using this drug. There was I saw and I think that's been underlying underlying much of our discussion today a notion of the benefit risk ratio that could be applied to the social consequences of drugs. That is if we were to take narcotic addiction for example heroin may very well produce a state of motional anaesthesia or analgesia that relieves the pain of the situation. It may quite obviously under present circumstances has bad social consequences.
One could also ask the right or the left turning to alternatives to heroin. One could ask the same question about the use of psychotropic drugs in our society those that are dispensed by the physician. Drug as I see it is why Raan coping mechanism is. It is one alternative among many that can be used to alleviate certain conditions or situations. Its value must be balanced against the values of other alternatives. Including the effectiveness of the alternatives including the social consequences or the possible betterment or detrimental effects associated with the use of other alternatives. That's a judgement that is part medical. In my opinion and part social. To the extent we're dealing with the benefit risk ratio the harm to the body. I think we're dealing principally with a medical question to the extent that we're we're talking about. The possible effect of drugs
on individual character and on social character and functioning in the society. I think we're dealing more or less with a social issue and to be sure the medical issues are part of the social issues. They are not separate from the medical issues are a subset within the larger social issues and are in no way contradictory to the social issues. If we could talk just a little more about the problem of coping you know could we put it this way everybody needs a crutch to cry on something to tend to we need. Would you agree that drugs including alcohol not play the role that. Shall we say that your actual religion used to. I think Dr Bolter put it well when he said drugs are one way of coping with problems. To the extent that religion. Or contemplation or drinking or other things
are an aid to coping with problems so drugs are one way of doing this. The advantage of drugs are they can be given in a quantitative and precise way. They have been studied thoroughly so that we know what their effectiveness is. We know what their benefits are and we know what their risks are. To this extent the drug is an improvement in the technology of coping with problems. Which leaves one also to consider. The notion that the to be. Educated about drugs to be sophisticated about the use of drugs and their effect is to be forearmed. And it may be that if we were to educate the younger generation in a broader perspective about all drugs not just psychotropic drugs about the
virtues of drugs about the values what have been accomplished by drugs but at the same time pointed out that drugs such as digitalis drugs such as insulin and many other very effective drugs have. Or could can possibly have. Or produce serious harm to the body and that it is a matter of the manner in which the drugs are taken and the extent to which one understands the kind of potent effects that are possible by drugs but at the same time appreciates the dangers involved. The strong social taboos that have kept women from drinking until the sun is over the young Dom have resulted in women turning to drugs. Several years have shown that women are twice as likely to use drugs as men. Well this this question or this point under a general rule book of what I will call a compensation
hypothesis. That is that if it is an individual and it fits with some of our earlier remarks about coping that if individuals do not have available one set of alternatives social or personal or other they might well turn to another to handle the same problem. And that's what's really implied in your question. I think before we go into the specifics it should be established that women for example I responsible generally for a higher proportion of patient visits to physicians than are men whether they get drugs or they do not. In the year 967 for example. Women represented 53 percent of the adult population 18 and above in the United States. They accounted for some 59 percent of the patient visits. And they account for some 68 percent of the prescriptions for psychotropic drugs brought in drugs in general. Women account for approximately 60 percent which means
that they are getting drugs from physicians. If one uses the term generally the term drug generally at about the rate that they're coming to the physician the notion of compensation gets some support from the kind of statistics that you have given it is true that women are more prone to get psychotropic drugs in the medical system are less prone to be alcoholics or escape drinkers men. Much less prone than women to get psychotropic drugs in the medical system appear with high rates in ARCA holism in narcotic addiction or in suicide. In many other forms of deviant or escape behavior this is of course a kind of an inferential thinking can't really establish the cause and the effect but it at least I gues for this kind of a relationship that individuals seek out and the avenues in which they can alleviate
their problems and if if the socially accept more socially acceptable alternatives are blocked for whatever the reason then I think those can be attitudinal reasons they can be economic reasons they can be by dint of ignorance and the like that they may well get. And it does appear so be more prone to appear in other drug systems outside the conventional. It is true that if one runs a clinic in hour in the evening hours or on weekends that the proportion of men that come to that clinic goes up. But that is not a sufficient unto itself to explain the large differentials that exist between women and men. Other possibilities are. Women are more prone to express psychic distress more prone to complain about it. It's also part conceivable that they are more sensitive and more likely to find themselves and they stay. Another plausible hypothesis is that Fisher
physicians handle women differentially in the medical system. They are more prone to adopt the more stringent criteria with respect to suffering with respect to toleration of discomfort with men and they are OK with women. It's also the case where it could be that many men do not like to be interfered with in the course of their functioning in their daily work. They work under stressful conditions and that they don't like the idea of being interfered with or in some way not being at the in tip top shape. Tranquilizers I don't sell stimulants about for one social scientist say this ratio reflects that it is considered more acceptable socially to take pills to relax that relax then just immolate. While these that these same data can be interpreted a different way one could also say that the characteristic problems of life.
Involve the need for tranquility and sedation. More often then they involve the need for stimulation. This is to say that there are more people that are anxious and agitated then there are but I obviously don't have data or statistics available to verify that. But it turns out that the amphetamines for example which are stimulating drugs. I take in principle is in principle in the 20s and 30s that the tranquilizers are very popular at least in the medical system as dispensed by the physician in the between 30 and 60. It is also at this period of life that the anti-spasmodic send drugs to treat the stomach upset and nervousness are also very popular. This is also happens to be the period of life in which men in particular are striving competing and coping strenuously and are very powerfully achievement
oriented. It turns out that sleeping pills and sedative drugs become popular are more frequently used in the 40s and up into the 60s at a period where people want essentially peace. It's difficult. The other problem is that stimulation carries with it at least. If it if it's not associated with. A path ology if we're not talking about depression stimulation implies in some manner a super normal activity by a super normal capacity. The attitude studies that we have been doing to date would indicate that Americans are quite willing at least to. To see drugs or to use drugs to offset path ologies like nervousness and depression. But they're much less prone to endorse the use of drugs to enhance
normal functioning and to overcome normal fatigue and to use drugs in a social facilitating manner. Do you think this is a simple as for you not knowing about enough about the fix. No I don't think it's a matter of fear it's a matter of tradition. I think the American point of view is essentially and I'm talking here about the general population. A conservative one in which drugs are seen as a vehicle but offset by theology with the younger generation. There is some evidence that this point of view is changing that drugs are obviously when one begins to consider drugs as tools for expanding the mind for increasing one's potential. We have the very conflict that we we've been discussing. Crucial rate playing has caught up with Dr. Jerome Levine and then Dr. Mitchell abaft of the National Institute of Mental Health. About drugs and contemporary
society. On the next program in this series Dr. Herschel J will discuss drug experimentation. New discoveries and new problems for this drug age. This is the national educational radio network.
This drug age
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Drugs and Contemporary Society
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Chicago: “This drug age; 2; Drugs and Contemporary Society,” 1970-00-00, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed September 25, 2023,
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APA: This drug age; 2; Drugs and Contemporary Society. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from