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Author Topic: What is the ratio of recreational dose to overdose for methylphenidate?  (Read 5004 times)

Offline briligg

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First, i don't do drugs recreationally, and i don't take methylphenidate. My interest is because i am writing about how drug regulation and oversight might work in a system where recreational drug use is legal.

I understand that the ratio of therapeutic dose to lethal dose is higher for methylphenidate than it is for most other stimulants. I am hypothesizing a system where it and amphetamines are legal for recreational use. However, i can't find information on how much more than a typical recreational dose a user would have to have taken for negative effects to begin, in particular an unhealthy elevation of blood pressure and heart rate.

The concept is to sell these drugs in drinks, as energy drinks are sold, to make overdose unlikely. But from the limited data i've been able to scrounge up online, just double a recreational dose could cause bad effects in many people, although not anything dangerous. Is that the case? Can anyone direct me to a source of information publically available online with good info about this?


 

Offline chris

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I'd be very surprised if we returned to the good old days of "Coke" when it contained cocaine as a pick-me-up.

For one thing, what would stop people evaporating off the liquid and concentrating the content to produce levels of the agent that could be abused? That said, the amount you would need would be quite high and, given the price of Red Bull, it would probably be cheaper to buy some amphetamines off the local pusher...

Chris
 

Offline briligg

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Let me just say i appreciate Naked Scientist letting this be discussed this way. I know this is a socio-political minefield...

In order for legalization to work, people who currently buy drugs illegally would have to prefer to buy them within the legal system. So it would be necessary to offer strong stuff, that can compete with illegal highs. Making legal products safer than illegal products is easy, but how do you make them safe enough for legalization to be a palatable idea to, say, someone who has a 15-year-old daughter? And what about addiction? Won't addictions increase tremendously if any adult has access to all kinds of drugs?

I assert that for humans, addictions principally result from an individual having inadequate coping skills to deal with the stresses they are under. I can back that up statistically, if people are interested. Legalization won't increase addictions, because they are the result of social, psychological, and genetic pressures. Either you are vulnerable, or you aren't. If you are, prohibition is not sufficient to protect you.

But could a legal system really do better? Well, making depressants (which diminish certain aspects of brain activity - alcohol, benzodiazepines, opiates) and psychedelics (which alter perception - LSD, magic mushrooms) sufficiently safe (safer than alcohol) is not too hard. Diluting them in drinks is enough to make getting high easy but overdosing very difficult. Proper purchase tracking and customer care can protect heavy users - as much as is possible, at least - by teaching them to rotate their drug use to avoid developing physical addiction, and providing them with 'bars' and such where staff take action to prevent them from getting themselves in too much trouble. And psychedelics aren't addicting, actually.

Stimulants are much harder. Cocaine and all amphetamine-related drugs work by stimulating the fight-or-flight mechanism. Serious side-effects begin at only about double the recreational dose - big jumps in heart rate and blood pressure, anxiety, clenching of the jaw, sweating and other effects leading to extensive dehydration. There is no way to avoid such serious side-effects by diluting doses. In the cases of methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine, the drugs i think would be appropriate to legalize, lethal overdoses would be very unlikely, the dose required is very high. But doses high enough to cause significant circulatory damage, including strokes and heart attacks? That would happen. You would have to ignore warnings of various kinds and take more than you have been specifically advised that you should, but of course people will do that.

What would be the real risks of physical harm? Would putting natural vasodilators like capsaicin and the nitrates found in fruit and vegetable juices in the drinks offer much protection? How about incuding small bottles of suspensions of activated charcoal with all products containing methylphenidate and dextroamphetamine, and advising people to drink them if they experience anxiety or a pounding heart?

These products would also be sold from behind the counter, and their would be extra restrictions on their sale. Modafinil, coca leaf, or khat would be far easier to purchase and be taxed far less.

I know this is an elaborate supposition of what legalization could be like, but i feel it is time to try and figure out what would make sense, how it might work. Brainstorming is necessary. The legalization debate makes no sense without this being properly considered. I hope some of you will find the topic interesting.
 

Offline briligg

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what would stop people evaporating off the liquid and concentrating the content to produce levels of the agent that could be abused?

If a moderate-to-strong high can be obtained from the products on offer, few people should be interested in doing that. For those who are, the idea would be to detect those people by purchase patterns and such before they become a danger to themselves, and coax them into doing their drugs in places where the staff can keep them safe. Will some not listen? Yes. Will they still be a lot safer than they are now? Yes. Will our communities be safer because people will at least still be getting their drugs from a legal system, and not drug gangs? Yes. Especially where i am. I live in central Mexico.
 

Offline Geezer

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Funnily enough, and I realize this is a bit off topic, but still slightly relevant -

I was in Washington (the state of) the other day, and I happened to turn on the radio in my truck. I was slightly amazed to hear a commercial for a clinic that can provide prescriptions for "medical marijuana". According to the commercial, it sounded like the stringent requirements for obtaining the stuff, consisted of;

a) Handing over money to the clinic.

b) Proving you were still alive.

c) Convincing someone (they were a bit vague on that point) that you are suffering from any one of a very long list of ailments. I'm pretty sure he said that one of them was flatulence.

This might also explain why there is a move afoot to change the name of Washington State to New Hempshire.
« Last Edit: 06/02/2011 00:21:21 by Geezer »
 

Offline briligg

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Yes, that sort of thing is happening a lot. The evidence indicates that marijuana is a pretty innocuous drug - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long-term_effects_of_cannabis - but this is of course debated strenuously. The Wikipedia article is actually a great eye-opener, in that its table of contents lists a rather ugly-sounding series of negative effects, but when you read it, nobody has been able to prove those effects actually happen. The scariest one - increased risk of psychosis - is purported to occur based on the evidence of population studies alone, and so of course the objection has been that this does not show that marijuana increases the chances of psychosis. It may well be showing that people with a risk of psychosis tend to smoke pot. Considering the controversy surrounding marijuana, you would think that if there were clear-cut risks involved in consuming it, that would be well-established by now. So i conclude that since that hasn't been established, the are no significant risks. Except for the lung damage caused by smoking it, but it isn't necessary to smoke it, and healthier ways to consume it ought to be promoted. As long as you don't use marijuana so much that its effects or after-effects are interfering with your life, you are fine. But no, i don't use it.

But the important thing about your example, i think, is it shows how transferring from prohibition to a legal system piecemeal, and only grudgingly, makes drug use needlessly dangerous. If government decides to simply stop enforcing drug laws, rather than replacing them with a proper regulatory system, then it is shrugging off its responsibility. Cannabis is a pretty safe drug. The designer stimulants now being sold through a legal loop-hole as bath salts, sometimes in corner stores, are not safe at all. http://www.physorg.com/news/2011-02-white-house-salt.html

If governments hadn't painted themselves into a corner for the last century or so by telling the public that drugs are way more dangerous than they actually are, they would have the option of moving pretty smoothly from a prohibition approach, to a comprehensive regulatory approach. That way they could have a say in important details, like marketing, and public education, and the responsibility of vendors. Instead, they are giving ground an inch at time, and so they constantly have to put out fires, and there is all kinds of confusion and controversy.
 

Offline briligg

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I wonder if it would be a good idea to start a new thread with a question like 'How could drug legalization work?' Or maybe 'What is the best way to limit the risks of drug use?' It seems too general, and it would be fishing, really, since i already have strong opinions on the subject, but just lack the medical knowledge to properly assess the possibilities of various techniques i have been proposing.
 

Offline Geezer

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I wonder if it would be a good idea to start a new thread with a question like 'How could drug legalization work?' Or maybe 'What is the best way to limit the risks of drug use?' It seems too general, and it would be fishing, really, since i already have strong opinions on the subject, but just lack the medical knowledge to properly assess the possibilities of various techniques i have been proposing.

I don't see why not. Drug legalization is a fine line.

My dad was a pharmacist in the UK who was required to supply heroin addicts, and that was fifty years ago.
 

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