The Impact of Technology on Drugs and their consumption 


In the understanding of modern technology, we often think of things that promote the overall furtherance of humanity, however in the case of technology surrounding drugs, one may think that perhaps we are not. The derivation of such new technology often has onset that is rapid and outpaces standing laws and regulations, which variably, can be a driving force in the enframing of contemporary technologies of this type (Hiedegger, 20). One such example of this principle which has been more and more widespread in recent times is the concept of vaporization. Now, of course, naturally the first thing that many individuals associate with vaping is nicotine, but this is only one of the offsets of the entire technology and implementation itself. While this most definitely constitutes as a technological change that is affecting drug culture, the widespread legality that accompanies nicotine is not exactly in the scope of what I am seeking to analyze here. My focus for this project is narrowing in on the genesis and implementation of legal technologies, and their ultimate effect on illicit substances with clandestine modification. 

When we begin the investigation of mind altering substances and the advancement in their technology, the use of bio power as the technology stands out, as particularly useful in expanding the influence of certain cultural practices, and uses of substances. Bio power is being utilized through the cultural connections that substances can make with a group of people. This can be understood by analyzing the usage populations of any particular drug and the subcultures that accompanied them. With each youll, find a rich history of usage patterns, and marks that have been made in particular areas throughout the world. Each of these routes and hotspots are the result of the use of bio power, the use of human communication as a means of technological advancement. In this particular case, the technological element is varying across different cultures, but there is one idea that is common amongst them. 

That is the idea that the utilized technology of consumption follows along the same routes of travel and integration as the substance itself. When thinking about the ways in which these cultures are impacted by technology, one of the first questions that arises is around the notion of accessibility. In stating this, I would like to firstly qualify the statement in saying that accessibility depends on a variety of factors that are somewhat independent of technology, such as time, place, and legality. The notion of accessibility that I am referring to, is in that of the ease of consumption. The technology that relates to the consumption of mind altering substances, can appear to have an impact on the prevalence of usage. However, it is important to take into account that this occurs somewhat anecdotally, oftentimes yielding inaccurate and harmful perspectives in the eyes of the ruling parties. This ultimately leads to inaccurate ideas surrounding usage rates in the current zeitgeist as well as the demographics that are considered likely to use. 

In discussing how these kinds of technologies impact humanity and the ways in which humanity ultimately thinks about drugs, I would like to unpack some examples of changes that have occurred in human history, which lead to the impacts that I was referring to. One of the first ones that comes to mind is one the first drugs to be widely consumed by humanity, Ethanol. The fermentation of barley and wheat in order to produce alcohol is a rather ancient practice and its spread throughout the world is shown through the development and curation of new technologies of production. The first main premise that was so alluring about alcohol during the time of its early synthesis was its resilient ability to remain consumable for much longer periods of time than water. This not only is a reference point for where humanity stood technologically at the time of alcohol’s expansion over culture, but also for the plethora of variation in technological production that ensued thereafter. An understanding of Alcohol from this perspective allows one to more deeply dissect the explosion of technology that can ensue after the popularization of a new type of substance not only in humanity’s creation of said technology, but also in the purpose or role that is being filled. 

When thinking about some of the impacts that are ultimately generated, the lens of the modern corporatized global economy seems to be a good first step in analysis. During this day and age, of course the monetary incentive never fails to supersede the rates of addiction that would likely suggest a need to halt or intervene production of a substance, however this point of contingency is one that seems to be widely overlooked. For instance, as these large corporations that are associated with pharmaceuticals have grown over the years, the subsequent technology that has developed along with them has brought greater and greater profit margins to these private entities through improvements in efficiency, production, distribution, etc. So, as a result of this there are many cases in the 20th and 21st century of sustained populations who are abusing pharmacologically manufactured drugs illegally, simultaneously to their continued legal production. Whether or not people are abusing these substances seems to be nearly irrelevant to these corporations in comparison to the amount of demand there is for a particular substance.

The application of this in the functioning of bio-power is nearly endless. The ways in which pharmaceutical drugs, especially, are promoted in America are a mass use of bio-power, in order to get people talking about the medications and the usefulness of their effect. Ironically enough however,  the use of bio-power seems to have an impact that is more than what is supposedly intended in these instances of mass marketing. As humans connect with one another in conversation or any other medium for that matter, there is a segment of the population that discusses the use of these substances for the recreational realm. At first, to many this may not seem problematic, those who choose to do drugs will, and those who don’t won’t. Yet, this fails to account for even more bio-power further down the line, as the word of a substance spreads, so does its culture, influence, and association. 

Codeine cough syrup, commonly known as lean, is the quintessence of pharmacological impact on the populations that are not intended for consumption. The original prescribed usage, being a prescription strength cough suppressant that comes in the form of a dark liquid. It might come next to question how and why this drug in particular is such a classical case of bio-power’s reach in the world of illicit consumption. The reason that it is connected to bio-power is because of the drug’s use and patterns of use across relatively recent American generations. Part of the notion of biopower here is referring to the idea that humans are acting as a technology to accomplish a goal. There are varying different cases where the desired outcome is reached, nonetheless it surely is. In the aforementioned case, as the usage of the drug grew, and its popularity and status of use grew, immediately too did its market value increase, both in legal and illegal markets. This outcome of increased value rather ironically even further drove the status of using or being in possession of codeine cough syrup. 

It is important to note too, that the cultures where codeine cough syrup is being used recreationally, most often do place a significant personal value on having high monetary resources. In rap cultures for example, where having a lot of money is something very commonplace to show off, having a drug that costs a lot of money then follows as a display thereof. This drug’s recent and strong affiliation with rap culture brings in yet another aspect of bio-power, the usage of media. With lyrics, songs, albums and even careers of artists being based on this drug naturally the knowledge of lean and subsequent usage increased drastically. This in doing so, yet again, functionally drove lean to an even higher status and value in rap culture. All occurring as a result of human interaction with an inanimate object and its attainment. Enforcing all of the rules, laws, and regulations that are associated with it during the drugs continued legal and taxable production.

Mini Project #3

  1. Examine the notion of the gift in Sandel. Does it just reduce to some idea that the unnatural is bad or that we’re “playing God,” in manipulating our children’s genetics? Or, even to the claim that we are somehow disrupting a child’s agency or autonomy in altering their genes? If it does reduce to one or other of these claims, assess Savulescu’s attempted refutation of Sandel.

“Giftedness of life is to recognize that our talents and powers are not wholly our doing, despite the effort we extend to develop and to exercise them.” (Sandel, 2004) 

In my own examination of Sandel’s writing, I believe that we may perhaps, somehow be altering our children’s agency and or their autonomy by altering their genetics. If we are saying that there is something fundamentally wrong with altering our children’s genetics, we must first determine what is specifically wrong in doing so. The first of which, noticeably in Sandel’s opinion, is that of the agency of the child. The ability of the child to truly make their own independent decisions and choose between each, in a way seems to be altered by predetermined genetics, in either case, whether the genes were chosen by the parents or not. However, it is specifically this idea that separates the two. When a child’s genetics have been altered or filtered, we feel that we almost are at a point of too much control over the outcome of their life. Of course, the main objection to this is in that of the choices that we make for our children before or after birth, even before we typically consider them competent. Where they go to school, what they eat, what they consume in the media and much more are all determined parentally before we even begin to consider that our children are able to make any of those choices on their own. So, from this standpoint, I start to follow the notion of enframing in which we begin to understand that these predeterminations are less influential than we usually like to believe, especially in comparison to many of the things that we will ultimately choose for our children without their input. 

While agency begins to tackle the nature of the “gift” to Sandel it does not simply mean that children who are then genetically enhanced or modified are absent of this quality. Part of the point that is being expressed is that in our births, we have no recollection, we did not choose when, where, or even what body we are born into,  yet the agency of the individual is one of the first things to be questioned in the topic of altering genetics. Furthermore, I think some appreciation should be given to the ways in which Sandel is saying that we don’t have influence over the lives of our children, as I would agree that this is much more largely the case than many people are willing to admit, or even are capable of comprehending. So many factors are contributing to the future life that a recently born child will have and ironically enough, the vast majority of them will occur independently of the carefully curated choices that parents make about their children in those first years of life. This isn’t to say that these years aren’t impactful, but rather that their lives will ultimately sway in patterns that are uncomputable to the human mind. 

The “gift” that is being referred to here is simply speaking about that of “natural” creation. The somewhat formally thought of as a “random” creation of consciousness from two already existing beings has been held as sacred for the duration of human existence. The idea that is reminiscent of a “gift” here is that of the curiosity of what is to come in the future, whether it is in the form of a present being unveiled or the presence of a life.