(Conversation heard in pub - two guys discussing the dangers of "mephedrone".)
Dave: I don't understand why these young people need drugs, Paul. What do they get out of them?
Paul: (Raising glass) Well, this beer is a drug, isn't it Dave? You take it for granted because you grew up with it. You like it because it gives you a glow and makes you more sociable. But drunk in excess its as harmful as any other drug. That doesn't stop you having a pint or five at the end of the day now does it?
Dave: Okay, I grant you that. Wine, beer, you can call them drugs. But they're also part of a meaningful culinary experience, Paul.
Paul: Yes they are Dave. But you like getting pissed at least once a week. And that's when it becomes a drug, I'd say.
Dave: OK, Paul. Say I accept the point you're making. Alcohol's a drug. But why can't people stick with alcohol then? What more do they need?
Paul: Well, Dave. You also like to pop out for the odd fag now and then, don't you? That's a drug as well. You don't smoke for any other reason. And smoking kills tens of thousands of people each year.
Dave: But it was okay to smoke when we were growing up, wasn't it? We didn't know it was bad back then.
Paul: But we do now. And anyway, we always knew smoking was addictive and made us smell horrible.
Dave: Okay, okay, Paul. Cigarettes are also drugs. But apart from those two, what more do people need. Can't young people be happy on those?
Paul: Happy? Good question. Those pills your daughter Deidre's taking, they're basically happy pills, aren't they? She needs those drugs, as do millions of other people.
Dave: But the doctor gave them to her. She doesn't get high on them.
Paul: Wouldn't be happy without them, would she?
Dave: They're therapeutic, Paul. She got depressed with her last job and what with all the stresses of becoming a mum and all that.
Paul: So anti-depressants are ok if a doctor gives them to you, but not if you just want to get happy yourself, that's really what you're saying, Dave.
Dave: I suppose...
Paul: But even then you've got to admit, mate, that's still a reason why people take drugs.
Dave: Well, I'm not sure I'd agree with that - but even say I do - then apart from alcohol, cigarettes and antidepressants, what do people get out of drugs? What more do they need?
Paul: What about the tranquillizers my doctor prescribed for insomnia? Valium. Couldn't live without them, Dave. And very, very tranquillizing they are too.
Dave: Yeah, but that's another one people've been taking for years. I accept its a drug...
Paul: A mind-altering drug in fact.
Dave: Okay, a mind-altering and also a necessary one. But even if I concede that people get something out of those drugs, then apart from alcohol, cigarettes, antidepressants and tranquillizers, what other reasons can you possibly have for taking drugs?
Paul: What about those pain-killers you said Marge's sister takes all the time? They've got all that codeine in them. That's a very addictive drug.
Dave: They were for her headaches, Paul.
Paul: But then she started taking them all the time. She started abusing them, didn't she?
Dave: Alright mate, I catch your drift. The thing is though... what I was really thinking about all along was street drugs.
Paul: Street drugs? That mephedrone was bought on the Internet; its not a street drug. You said: why do people need drugs? Not why do people need street drugs? And anyway, drugs are drugs, when you're asking what people get out of them.
Dave: Okay. Fair enough. All those things you mentioned are drugs and people need them. But just let me finish where I was going to...
Paul: Where were you going to?
Dave: I was going to say... that apart from alcohol, cigarettes, antidepressants, tranquillizers and pain killers...
Paul: (Quickly breaks in) ... And weight loss drugs, beta-blockers, statins, steroids, triptans - to name a few others that aren't exactly without their consequences.
Dave: Struth... Okay Paul, so apart from things like alcohol, cigarettes, antidepressants, tranquillizers, pain killers, weight loss drugs, beta-blockers, statins, steroids and triptans, what do people actually get out of drugs? Why do they need them? That's basically what I'm asking.
Paul: (Puts glass down) Dunno, Dave. You'll have to ask your doctor that sort of question.