Friday, January 16, 2009

K is for kids

(n.b. I am not the Devil's Kitchen)

Ketamine is a silly drug which tends to turn people into gibbering window-lickers. The drooling and the eye-rolling are temporary, I grant you, but it's not for me. Still, live and let live (or "do what you're told", depending on your politics).

Alas, according to the newspapers I am in the minority. The country has been infested with rampant ketamine abuse. Middle England, your epidemic for the week is: horse-tranquilisers.
Ketamine tops cocaine as new drug of choice (The Independent)

and
Health fears as ketamine use rockets (Metro)

As usual this news comes to us from a 'charity', in this case an organisation called DrugScope.

As the Beeb explains:
There has been a rise in the number of young people taking the Class C drug ketamine, a charity warns.

Oh dear. I wonder why.
A gram has dropped in price by a third during the past three years and now costs £20 - half the price of a gram of cocaine.

In the past three years, eh? Did anything significant happen three years ago?
Ketamine was made illegal three years ago after a surge in the number of people using it as a recreational drug.

So prohibition was a miserable failure? Banning a drug actually led to lower prices and greater demand? Say it ain't so!
To quote The Independent:
The government’s decision to make ketamine a class C drug in 2006 does not appear to have impacted on the drug’s availability, popularity or price on the illegal market.

Well, I'll be a baboon's bare-arsed uncle. Can we give this prohibition shit a rest now or shall we give it one more century? Oh go on then, just one more century. You guys!

Making ketamine illegal has, predictably enough, done fuck-all to discourage people from taking it, but has ketamine use really "rocketed"? Or could it just possibly be another load of old bollocks to guarantee more funding for some fake charity?

For a start off, this is the evidence given for ketamine's rise in popularity:
Drugscope found the use of ketamine – also called raver's smack – was on the rise in nine out of 20 areas it surveyed around the country.

Keen scholars of mathematics will notice something about these figures. If ketamine was "on the rise" in 9 out of the 20 areas, it must have been "on the slide" in 11 out of 20 areas. So not quite the "surge" in use that the headlines might have led you to believe.

The other evidence DrugScope uses to justify its tales of reefer madness comes from the British Crime Survey [pdf]. That's only been recording ketamine use for the last two years, so it's a bit of a bullshit exercise to quote it at all. Still, here goes:
Percentage of 16-24 year olds who have used ketamine in the last year:

2006/07: 0.8%
2007/08: 0.9%


Percentage of 16-24 year olds who have used ketamine in the last month:

2006/07: 0.3%
2007/08: 0.3%

Keep your eye on that top figure, for it forms the entire basis of the headlines shown above. An increase from 0.8% to 0.9% is, to use a statistical term, "fuck all", especially when you only have one year to compare it with. The fact that ketamine is taken by 0.3% of 16 to 24 year olds on anything like a regular basis is also "fuck all", and that last figure, you will have noticed, has not budged in the last two years.

Okay, if you want to split hairs, I suppose that The Independent is technically correct when it says:
The British Crime Survey shows that use of the drug last year increased nationally by 10 per cent on 2006-07.

But to go on to say, as it does, that...
Ketamine—once the drug of choice for ravers—is now in widespread use


... is the sheerest bollocks. Out of the 807,000 16-24 year olds that took drugs last year, only 19,000 of cheeky little scamps took ketamine even once.

As for ketamine "replacing cocaine as the substance of choice among Britain's recreational drug users" (The Independent), the British Crime Survey shows that 5% of people took cocaine last year—more than five times as many—and 18% smoked cannabis.

Still, I am grateful to DrugScope for pointing me in the direction of the British Crime Survey website, where I found this very interesting little graph.


Do my eyes deceive me or has drug use been falling continuously for ten years? Funnily enough, I don't believe I've ever seen this graph in the newspapers. Doesn't quite fit the narrative, does it? (And there is a similar, if less dramatic, graph for alcohol consumption)

And who the fuck are DrugScope anyway? As is becoming customary, let's have a butcher's at the accounts of this 'charity' [pdf]:

Department of Health S64 Grant: £300,000

Other Government departments and EU: £710,629

Donations: £2,838

Out of this huge wedge of (taxpayers') bunce comes the CEO's salary of over £70,000. His name is Martin Barnes and he was available for interviews yesterday with such wise words as:
"The very fact that the price is falling shows how popular it is becoming."

Yes Martin, prices fall when things become more popular and prices rise when they become less popular. That's how supply and demand works. Fucking hell.

Another fake charity on the make. Another bogus scare story. Go away Drugscope, and give me my money back.

27 comments:

M0nkeyb0Y said...

Brilliant article Smoker, wi-five! Another 'charity' propped up with our cash supporting pretty ropey policy. How refreshing!

ENGLISHMAN said...

I am not au-fait with drug use these days,but in the sixties ,horse tranquilizers were emourmous,like gob-stoppers ,i nearly choked,and the effect was not that good either,but since today those that are not yet crazy ,induce it,and popular opinion encourages lunacy,depravity cos its my right man,we are in a word finnished,such a sad way for our country to end up.

Earthlet Nigel said...

Given his clear and underlining lack of sagacity can he now be returned to the village whence he came and continue falling off walls for the merriment of passers by

Obnoxio The Clown said...

Keen scholars of mathematics will notice something about these figures. If ketamine was "on the rise" in 9 out of the 20 areas, it must have been "on the slide" in 11 out of 20 areas.

Or constant. :o)

Anonymous said...

Since drug use has fallen over the last ten years, does this mean that the government's policies are working?

Winston said...

These charitable Quangos are becoming too commonplace we need to do something about it.

Shall we add the financial data to their Wikipedia page?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DrugScope

Trixy said...

"The very fact that the price is falling shows how popular it's becoming."

Well, actually it doesn't. If supply was constant and price falling then it would be less popular. If prices rise and supply stays the same then it's more popular as demand is increasing, pushing up supply and whittling down that consumer price surplus.

However, I'd supply is increasing but demand stays the same then the price falls, which does raise an unfortunate question for DrugsScope: If the latter is true, perhaps the pushers responded to K being made illegal by increasing supply but the demand hasn't gone up yet it could signify that making a drug illegal and thus encouraging production for those hoping to respond to the 'forbidden factor' actually has made that drug more accessible.

Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

Give it time and ZanuLab will be dropping Ketamine in the water supply to control all the sheeple.

Dr Dan H. said...

All of your posting, and indeed Drugscope's entire argument depends on the reported levels of drug usage being accurate. If there is much inaccuracy in these figures, then the whole argument Drugscope is making is spurious.

Now, how do you assess the actual level of use of a drug, without question of someone lying? Easy, you look for drug metabolites in the sewage, extrapolate the amount of metabolite back to actual drug ingested, check for any other routes by which this could have ended up in sewage apart from by drug use, and publish the results in a well-known journal.

Like this, in fact: http://www.nature.com/news/2005/050801/full/news050801-12.html

This clearly says that the amount of cocaine metabolite in Italian sewage is higher than that which they expected; similar work looking at antibiotic metabolites demonstrated that these levels were about what you'd expect given how much was being prescribed in the city; i.e. the researchers have a control study which indicated that their method was sound.

What this quantitative study does demonstrate is that questioning potential drug users about drug use is a very poor way of assessing drug use levels, and what Drugscope may in fact be measuring is not levels of drug use, but reporting bias or truthfulness of persons surveyed.

In conclusion, their reported statistics are almost certainly spurious crap.

Antipholus Papps said...

Sterling work FS! What I love about these bullshit articles are the little facts they get wrong, thereby demonstrating what a shower of horsepiss the rest of the article is. Nobody I know calls Ketamin 'raver's smack'. 'Cybersmack' certainly, but the raver's drug of choice? Have you tried dancing on ketamin? Ketamin rips you out of space and time! You realise that you are in fact a pan-dimensional being, and that the universe exists in every cell of your body. And it's hard to move when you're already everywhere!

Fuck it - if it's good enough for horses, it's good enough for me.

Onward!

Dave H said...

"(And there is a similar, if less dramatic, graph for alcohol consumption)"

Yeah, but I was living outside the UK until 2006. Watch it jump from then on.

Roger Thornhill said...

Percentage of kids taking Ketamine? 0.3%

Percentage of Drugscrote income from private donations? 0.3%


Hence the need for Drugscrote to big up 0.3%.

Budgie said...

Dr Dan H said: "In conclusion, their reported statistics are almost certainly spurious crap."

In a school survey of drug use my children wrote that they started on weed at junior went on to cocaine at 11 and were mainlining by 13.

Don't know if the survey went anywhere but its results were complete tosh.

T said...

"Yes Martin, prices fall when things become more popular and prices rise when they become less popular. That's how supply and demand works. Fucking hell."

Again (as Trixy similarly noted) not necessarily. Given a constant supply, the opposite would be true.

Chalcedon said...

Good article. What is says is that mathematically there has been a 10% rise but the actual number is very very small. Interesting to see that drug use is reducing. Now that never makes the MSM does?

This government loves to ban things. what it should do is repeal the law criminalising the possession of these drugs. Then see the abolitionists splutter.

Nice outing of this bogus charity BTW.

The Filthy Smoker said...

T said...
"Yes Martin, prices fall when things become more popular and prices rise when they become less popular. That's how supply and demand works. Fucking hell."

Again (as Trixy similarly noted) not necessarily. Given a constant supply, the opposite would be true.


Yes, yes, I know. It was in fact an attempt at sarcasm. I realise now that the printed word isn't the ideal medium for that. I've learnt my lesson.

Obo - yes, the rates could have stayed constant but the chances of exactly the same number of people getting ripped on ket from one year to the next are very small indeed. I think can assume the rate fell.

Roger - damn, I wish I'd said that.

Wat Dabney said...

Telegraph article: "Mexico in danger of collapse, says US army. America may be forced to intervene in Mexico to prevent the country's "rapid and sudden collapse" at the hands of organised crime and drug cartels..."

You see, that's how we know the War on Drugs is working.

Roger Thornhill said...

"Roger - damn, I wish I'd said that."

You are most welcome to.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Trixie and T. That is really interesting - can you explain a bit more clearly please.

quango hater said...

Want to know more about Martin Barnes. Background, career, politics, etc. Want to know more about all these highly paid quango CEOs, where they come from, how they have risen, etc.

A new elite has been created to rule us from quangoland. I didn't vote for any of these fuckers so I want to know who they are and why they are in the positions they are in.

As for the article. Spot on. The quango charities have become a money spinning spinning industry.

fewqwer said...

It's the same pattern repeated over and over:

1. Government funds "charity".
2. "Charity" lobbies government.
3. Government changes policy.
4. "Journalists" fail to report it.

Fuck them all.

quango hater said...

I looked at their website but it tells you nothing about who these people are.

Their membership page says this:-

"With access to decision makers and MPs, and regular representation in print, broadcast and online media, DrugScope can make a substantial contribution to policy-making on drug-related matters"

Is that democratic? Our whole bloody country is being run by these "charity" quango conspiracies. I bet they are all lefty activists and constitute most of the 30% still rooting for the Nazis.

Dick Puddlecote said...

1. Government funds "charity".
2. "Charity" lobbies government.
3. Government changes policy.
4. "Journalists" fail to report it.


Twas ever the case. It's just that some people are starting to notice now.

One day the sheep and MSM will too.

It might be too late by then though.

Shug Niggurath said...

First heardof ketamine being used socially about 15 years ago. And it was pretty much getting used as a come down pill.

In the last few years though (the scope of this report), ketamine has been pretty notoriously been mixed with MDMA. So if you'd asked me if I had taken ketamine I'd probably answer yes, even though I have never actively done so*. That in itself is a bit of an argument for actually controlling substances rather than just putting them all on the black market.

*assuming of course if a fat, sweaty student with a clip board walked up to me in the street asking to know which illegal drugs I chose to take was met with a positive response rather than a swift boot up the arse.

Laban said...

fewquer :

1. Government funds "charity".
2. "Charity" lobbies government.
3. Government changes policy.
4. "Journalists" fail to report it.

You forgot to mention that stete-funded journalists (BBC/Guardian) amplify the campaign.

As i put it in relation to a different issue :

The whole thing falls into the standard mode of liberal campaigning, viz :

i) tax everyone
ii) recycle the tax to favoured pressure groups (see the list of sponsors for Ms Kerr's pressure group)
iii) produce report which is amplified by state-owned (BBC) and state-sponsored (Guardian) media.
iv) et voila ! Thus minority views get majority cash - as long as they're the right views.

Such techniques eliminate all the hassly bits of campaigning, like finding people who agree with you, getting them involved and getting them to put their hands in their pockets. Like so many other things, political activism has been contracted out by the State to its preferred suppliers.

Gawain Towler said...

Englishman, if you still have one of those gobstoppers maybe it could be used as a suppository for the well paid Mr Barnes.

Just a thought

whoops said...

anonymous- they don't need to, they are already planning to add sodium fluoride to the water for the same reason.
wat- yep, it.s working fine, the whole point of the war on drugs is to destabilize south america and ease those countries' absorption into the planned one world government. just as gordon's bankrupting of this country ii designed to force us into the euro. these people aren't stupid, even though they may want you to think so.