06 October 2011

Stop 'drugs are bad' mantra, expert says

DRUGS that enhance abilities or are used for recreation shouldn't be written off as bad, a researcher says.

University of Melbourne senior lecturer Dr Olivia Carter said that while she did not indiscriminately advocate drug use, society's belief that "drugs are bad" could close us off from future advancements that could make our lives better.

"Concerns around drugs, especially when they're not used for medical purposes, always focuses on negative side-effects and unforeseen consequences," she said.

"Drug companies around the world are spending billions of dollars trying to ensure their drugs have as little side-effects as possible."

Drugs developed to enhance memory, she said, could benefit healthy people as well as those with diseases such as Alzheimer's.

"To me there is no reason why we won't see some drugs that improve brain capacity in healthy people, not just sick people, so they can live a fuller life," she said.

Dr Carter conducted experiments in Switzerland looking at the effects of hallucinogenic drugs on healthy volunteers during her PhD, then worked at Harvard University for three years as research fellow in the Vision Sciences Laboratory and now is a senior research fellow and lecturer in Psychological Sciences at the University of Melbourne.

She will be in town this week for the Adelaide Festival of Ideas to discuss what society might look like if drugs had no negative side-effects.

"People think that's never really going to happen but if you look at immunisation we now think society is better off if we all have these needles," she said.

"This idea that it would be a tragedy if we have a pill to make people happy doesn't make sense  ... There are ways our lives and well-being can be improved through drugs."

She said if drugs on the streets today were tested for short-term and long-term side-effects they would probably be shown to be very bad for your health.

She said, however, this would not always be the case because there was no law of pharmacology that stated fun drugs must cause harm to health.

5 October, 2011
Sheradyn Holderhead
The Advertiser

No comments:

Post a Comment