Another Old Fashioned Thing: “Say No to Drugs”

As we have seen, a dated thing is the critique of consumerism. Today we have to buy fancy things to empower ourselves, that is, to make others believe that we are happy and financially successful. Another thing that disappeared was the “Say no to drugs”. The poster showed an open hand with a line running from above the thumb to the wrist. It was an obvious sign of “forbidden” and, at the same time, referred to life, because this line of the hand is popularly known as the “line of life” thanks to the practice of palmistry. Drugs were prohibited in the name of life.

Memories of anti-drug propaganda vary according to age and region. But the adult who isn’t old enough to have grown up in a drug-free environment will remember one. The thing started with the counterculture, in the late s 60. It was good to do free love and “expand consciousness” through drug use. It was upper-middle-class and university stuff. As this group rules the press and creates trends, in the 80 years, joints were already commonplace in any “enlightened” niche in the country. Hence, I assume that whoever is in the house of 40 grew up with anti-drug propaganda, like me. However, those who are growing up today do not see such a thing.

2003The USP case illustrates this well

Today what reigns is a pessimistic fatalism allied to a philosophy of exacerbated individualism. Fatalism says: it is inevitable that young people take drugs. The new philosophy says: each individual is free to do what they want and nobody has anything to do with it. It is a strange mixture of freedom and determinism, since it is believed that the “sum of individuals” (society) is condemned to use its freedom in the best possible way.

Thus, thanks to UOL, we are informed that the new trend at USP – not in cracolândia, not in beggars’ shelters, not among society’s pariahs, but at USP – is for beautiful and sincere people to defend the “safe use” of drugs, and this good crowd has been attacked by abominable Bolsonarists who do not accept the directions of progress.

UOL is didactic and immediately opens the article explaining: “Reducing the risks of consumption of psychoactive drugs by people who are unable or unwilling to stop using them. This is the north of harm reduction practices. In 2003, the health strategy focused on user embracement was consolidated as a service approach in the SUS (Unified Health System). But it still faces resistance from public authorities and society.” Suddenly the person who “can’t” stop using drugs appears. Does this figure exist? Withdrawal syndrome exists, so we can say that yes, there is a person who cannot stop using drugs. What to do with that person? Here is a medical matter that I am not sufficiently aware of, but I am aware enough to know that it is a medical matter.

And it doesn’t matter, because the “harm reduction policy” is for those who “can’t or don’t want to”, without distinction. Now, if we treat the two groups as if they were the same thing, is it nonsense to think that the two do not become the same thing? If public use of drugs more dangerous than marijuana is normalized in full USP, won’t use increase and convert voluntary users into dependents? When it comes to addictive and dangerous drugs, this is not a bold hypothesis.

Thus, before a traditional party at USP, the Instagram profile of the Academic Center warned that a certain ResPire had tips on how to do drugs at the university party. The post (which is still live) contains “tips” for those who are going to use alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, MD, perfume launches, LSD and marijuana. Furthermore, the post stated that ResPire “is an organization that works on the issue of Harm Reduction. They will assist anyone who needs to test substances or is on a bad trip, for example. We will have information booklets, rapid HIV testing and many other services.”

Ah, well, since students use drugs, so, instead of discouraging them by alerting them to the risks, we will ensure risk reduction. Before, these risks went beyond health and included the criminal level. But we learned that drug addiction was a “public health issue”. So now that it’s just a matter of public health, we can put babysitters at every party, taking care to prevent bad trips.


Alcohol is slyly included in the list. Let’s read the tip: “Pay attention to the alcohol content and quality of what you drink. Avoid mixing different types of alcoholic beverages (beer and spirits, for example). Remember to have a good meal before you start drinking and stay hydrated throughout the day. Do not drive under the influence of alcohol!” In fact, many freshmen are starting to get drunk. At or 18 years one is not an experienced drinker, and young people tend to err in hand when they are learning to drink. However, this learning process is as old as alcohol. No one ever thought it necessary to include permissive nannies around young people to explain how to avoid hangovers. Every young person is told not to drink too much, nor on an empty stomach, nor to mix drinks. The novelty of this organization is not only permissiveness, it is the infantilization of young people. It’s the assumption that he’s not going to find out about drinking on his own, or from friends, or family. It is necessary to create a private bureaucracy to advise young people about drinking.

Would it work? This drinking advice is no different from what young people receive at home or from friends. The truth is, learning to drink isn’t much different than learning to ride a bike, or learning to do anything that takes practice. Practical instructions are of no use without practice. Reading cookbooks doesn’t make you a good cook. Learning to ride a bike or cook involves a few falls and a few burns, despite advice. And even after being experienced, it is possible to take a tumble or burn the rice.

In the end, the only thing that this “organization” has to offer that young people do not find at home or between friends is unrestricted leniency. Family and friends don’t say, “Go on, snort as much cocaine as you want, but be careful which straw you use. Safe use, huh??”


The reason why not even crazy friends stay in this role is that taking care of drug addicts takes work. Every family has an annoying drunk, but what you do is not advise him on food, it’s curbing his behavior. Imagine if at every family party there were a group of ongoers there telling Uncle Juvenal that he can drink as much as he wants, he just has to take care of hydration…

I said ongoers ? UOL explains that the ResPire is “an initiative of É de Lei, a CSO (Non-Profit Civil Society Organization) that since 1998 promotes the reduction of risks and damages — social and health — caused by drug policy. The collective works with advocacy , communication, teaching and research, practicing practical interventions in different means.” As you can see, they created a euphemism for NGOs, which are now CSOs. Of course, these NGOs don’t do anything for free. They have dedicated professionals, rather than mere volunteers who commit idle time. Funding for these kinds of agendas is also far from an issue – the Open Society and the Ford Foundation say so.

So I think it would take some conspiracy theory to claim that no we are experiencing drug apology propaganda. The very article on UOL – one of the largest media groups in the country, owner of Folha – looks more like the NGO’s press office than journalism.

Who dares to tell young people today , that they shouldn’t use drugs, because they are harmful, addictive and finance drug trafficking? Apparently, it became a believer’s thing, and no longer general. Today the government says it’s to fight a lot of phobias. Damn, nothing. It’s a “health issue”. However, being fat is a matter of health and of great importance in Covid. But the press prefers to warn of the evils of chloroquine and ivermectin while weaving praises for the increasingly far-reaching potential of marijuana. Is this all by chance, without even a tiny bit of funding involved?

Conservatives talk about the abortion industry. It started as a “health issue” and obviously undesirable. Then “safe abortion” became a human right. Isn’t it time to start talking about the drug industry? By the way, next year we will be fighting Cracudophobia and distributing safe crack, because a citizen has the inalienable human right to smoke crack.

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