Class Cancellation

Apologies for the inconvenience, but I’ve had to cancel class on Monday, October 23 due to illness. Make sure to read the last set of four readings in the drug unit, which we’ll cover in depth on Wednesday.


It Really Happened (Part 2): A Personal Account of Addiction and Withdrawal

Here is an excerpt of a blog post from my personal blog about my experiences with addiction and withdrawal. The events in question took place from roughly August 2013 until February 2014.

Anyway, here’s my story. After several straight months of insomnia and depression following a divorce, I asked my primary care physician for something to help me sleep. The something turned out to be Ambien. My doctor put me on a dose of 90 x 12.5 mg controlled release pills, which—in compliance with the directions on the bottle—I took “daily as needed” until I ran out (and then got some more).

Around day 25, the medication started to lose its original effect of knocking me out within about ten minutes of taking it.

Around day 40, I had regularly begun to lose my sense of how many pills I was taking on a given night, and started to double and even triple up on the 12.5 mg/day dosage. Having done that a few times, and having realized how insane it was, I then abruptly decided to stop taking the pills altogether, thereby inducing a relatively severe and totally unexpected withdrawal reaction (which I misinterpreted as the effects of extreme sleep deprivation). In the process, I almost crashed my car a few times, suffered two physical collapses on campus, and scared the hell out of a lot of people, including friends, family, students, colleagues, several nuns, a security guard, and an administrator or two. Colleagues had to call 911 for both of my collapses after finding me semi-conscious and on the ground. I found it scary, and judging from the looks on the faces of the first responders, and the way the cops encircled me and kept their hands on their weapons, they seemed pretty frightened, as well.

Continue reading

Quiz #3b: Defining “Addiction”

Quiz 3a is intended for those who want to respond to Jacob Sullum’s argument (and specifically, for those who reject it). Here’s an alternative assignment for those who want one.

Throughout our discussion of drug use, we’ve been relying on the concept of “addiction.” But the truth is, it’s not really clear what an addiction is. Definitions of the term are notoriously imprecise and unclear. Continue reading

Quiz #3a: What’s So Illicit About “Illicit Drugs”?

You have a choice on this quiz. You can either do Quiz 3a or Quiz 3b. Quiz 3b is described in a different post.

I had actually meant to cover Spriggs’s article today, but ended up spending the whole class on Sullum’s argument. Sullum’s argument is very simple. He points out that we already do a lot of drugs. The most obvious examples are alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. Arguably, a fourth example is pot. We covered the blackboard with a long list of other examples of mind-altering drugs that are available by prescription, and which are by definition, perfectly acceptable in our society. There are anti-anxiety medications (e.g., Xanax), stimulants (e.g., Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse), sedatives (e.g., Ambien), painkillers (e.g., hydromorphone, Oxycontin, Percoset), antidepressants (e.g., Prozac, Wellbutrin, Cymbalta), and many, many others. Continue reading

It Really Happened (Part 1)

Do I make up the stories I tell in class? No, I do not.

It seems absurd to think that a college student would be stupid enough to get drunk, walk across campus, climb on top of a train, touch the 11,000 volt pantograph on top of it, have one of his limbs amputated–and then sue the club, the university, and the train company for what happened. And yet. (The original story.)

Or that a law student would get drunk, drive, hit a freshman at his own college, leave the scene, get caught, then get off on a technicality–and become a successful attorney. And yet. (Don’t forget this.)

I don’t play.

The point of these stories, by the way, was to illustrate the one-off nature of the events in question. Things like this are rare, freak events involving the abuse of alcohol, a common psychoactive substance. Right? Continue reading

Quiz #2: Dating and Hooking

I had originally wanted to give you an in-class quiz on the first two pages of Ole Martin Moen’s article on prostitution, but on second thought, it occurred to me to give you an online quiz of a slightly broader nature.

Moen’s position is: if casual sex is OK, then prostitution is OK. His point is that there is no important moral difference between casual sex and prostitution. Casual sex is a non-romantic sexual exchange; so is prostitution. There are some minor differences between them, but nothing large enough to swamp the more basic similarities. So if you find casual sex unobjectionable, you have to grant the same legitimacy to prostitution.

Try to answer this question before you read the whole article (or read past p. 74): Is there any important difference (or are there any important differences) between a date in which both parties expect sex but have no romantic expectations, and a transaction between prostitute and client? Give me a “yes” or “no,” followed by a brief explanation of your answer.

Bunnage vs. Vrangalova on hookups

Comment on the videos by Bunnage and Vrangalova on “hookups.” You can discuss one or the other lecture, or both, but in general, who made the more persuasive argument for her position? What were the strengths and weaknesses of their various claims? You can focus on a variety of things, including the overall focus of their talk (what part of the issue were they discussing?), their factual claims, their use of social science, and the moral recommendations they were making. Whatever you do, make sure that what you make specific reference to what they said. (Watch the videos again if you need to.) Don’t just make vague claims that don’t refer to specific parts of either video.

Quiz 1: Cat-calling

We watched two videos today on cat-calling. The first one featured an attractive young woman walking the streets of New York City; the claim is that she was harassed 100 times in 10 hours. The second video featured an attractive young man walking the streets of New York City; the claim is that he was harassed 30 times in 3 hours.

Spelled out a bit, the first video seems to be implying the following:

  • The female model was sexually harassed 100 times in 10 hours (i.e., 10 times an hour).
  • The harassment ranged from egregious (following for several minutes) to merely offensive (mere comments), but was problematic either way.
  • The harassment took place in a male-to-female direction (male harasser, female target).
  • The preceding pattern generalizes to some unspecified extent, but ultimately, male behavior is the problem.

The second video seems to be implying the following:

  • The male model was “sexually harassed” 30 times in 3 hours (i.e., 10 times an hour).
  • The “harassment” may occasionally have been annoying, but none of it qualified as genuinely problematic in any serious way.
  • Supposed “harassment” need not take place in a male-to-female direction.
  • There are no important differences between what happened to the female model and what happened to the male one.
  • The preceding pattern generalizes to some unspecified extent, but ultimately, male behavior is not the problem.

Put in this way, the videos are in effect “arguing” with each other. Question: Which one wins the argument? Answer in about 5-7 sentences.