‘Drugs’. n. (from Common Germanic “draugiz”)
What does this polysemic word mean to you? The aim of the issue you hold here is to explore the many different meanings behind the word drugs and bring a few ideas and opinions behind those meanings to light. Whether we like it or not, a key facet of 21st century living appears to be popping pills; either as a medical overreach or an escape from reality. There are so many ways to do it. When you hear the word ‘drugs’, what do you think of?
Are you like Emily Alsworth, whose article describes the addictions services in Sheffield the population it cares for? When you hear drugs you think of the social stigma and physical health problems caused by addiction and substance misuse? There are many opinions to take on this issue from full prohibition all the way through to complete permissiveness. As the legalisation debate rages on, who is looking after the victims whose lives may have been ruined by the big names? Heroin. Alcohol. Meth.
Or you are reminded of our routine practice? Much of what we may end up doing as a doctor is based on guidelines or recommendations established and governed by bodies outside of ourselves? Who are they and how do they do it? Lucy Faulkner defines NICE and the scope of its advice whilst Izzy Avery-Phipps highlights the problems of falling afoul of its broad dictums and definitions.
Maybe you are like Michael Houssemayne du Boulay, who following the 31st Summer Olympiad in Rio, writes on the ethics of doping in professional sport. Where and why do we draw a line defining what is acceptable for competitors? What does the future hold for athletes and sportsmen seeking peak performance? How far would you go to gain an advantage?
Perhaps you are even like myself, and are concerned by growing antibiotic resistance and the powerful phar- maceutical industry who choose to look the other way. Although they are a necessary evil for modern medicine (after all, who else is developing drugs), I can’t help but long for some semblance of responsibility in what is a developing crisis. However, it is important to remember that such mistrust of these corporations creates its own problems. Katie Pearson writes about the paranoid epidemic of anti-vaxxers and why they might be feeling that way.
Hopefully there is something contained within this magazine expressing the way you feel or the first thought you associate with drugs. In small doses you may find it interesting and worth reading. Side effects may include being well-informed and having an opinion. I’d like to thank the tireless work of the production team and those who have contributed their articles and competition entries to this issue of North Wing. I hope you don’t feel as though your trust in me was misplaced.