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Hooked on the story of drugs.

Call me old fashioned, but I have never indulged in recreational drug use. Well, alcohol aside, that is. I don't smoke, and I've never seen the attraction of snorting powder up my nose or sticking a needle into my arm. I've just never felt the need. And hallucinogens? Well, I once worked in Tipton.

However, since the end of World War ll, drugs have become part of the fabric of the nation's social (or anti-social) life. And there's been plenty of television debate on the subject, both pro and con. But, until now, no one's simply offered an historica l context.

Rush (Channel 4) attempts to remedy the matter with a three part oral history of the past 50 years, presenting facts and patterns rather than passing judgement. And, on the evidence of part one, it's a fascinating subject, linking drugs to culture and cl ass and illustrating how attempts to control usage merely exacerbated it.

Ironically, the source of Britain's modern day drug usage can be traced back to the doctor's surgery and the slimming pills freely prescribed to middle aged women in the late 50s. Heavy with amphetamines, the energy boosts these Black Bombers provided we re not lost on a younger generation, leading to addicted housewives, pill popping Mods and a lucrative black market.

Heroin too was easily available, sympathetic 'junkie' doctors generously prescribing it, until the government cracked down. Which, of course, is when, as with speed, it went underground, became the province of gangsters, turned impure and, as addicts spi ralled from hundreds to thousands, the real problems began.

Advocates of both decriminalisation and tougher crackdowns will find much to debate, the rest of us will be simply hooked.

Mike Davies
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Oct 27, 1998
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